Motivation. It’s tricky, it’s not-so-sticky, and sometimes it seems like you’re either born with it or without it.
Lack of motivation is also one of the top reasons we can become derailed on our health journeys. For whatever reason, we know we want the results, yet we can often have a hard time sticking to the process. Why is that?
Typically, lack of motivation stems not just from lack of energy or being too busy (we all know those people who have worked insane hours day in and day out just to make their dreams a reality), but from lack of clarity surrounding a specific goal. And by lack of clarity, I mean anything from not having a solid definition of your goal, to not knowing the steps it takes to get there.
Have you ever heard anyone say “the hardest part about doing anything is getting started”? Getting started truly is the first barrier to keeping motivated, and possibly the most important. This is because we typically define “getting started” as, say, our first workout of a new health regime. However, “getting started” in terms of motivation is more like repeating the new regime until it becomes a habit. In this case, the “getting started” phase can last up to 21 days, or roughly the time it takes to form a new habit.
In reality, staying motivated past this point becomes much easier.
So how can you stick it out through this phase, staying motivated to push forward the entire time? Below are some of the best tools I’ve found for staying on track.
How to Have a Motivational Mindset
- Solidify Your “Why”
For instance, perhaps your goal is to “get shredded.” So we know what a shredded individual looks like, but what we really want to do to sustain motivation is to put that idea into a measurable format; ideally within a timeline. At what body fat percentage do you want to be in 3-6 months? Do you need to put a lot of muscle on also?
Or, perhaps you’re looking at gaining agility or stamina. What exercise/movement do you need to perfect to confirm that increase? Keeping this detailed “why” in your mind at all times helps you recognize the exact things you need to improve to help you achieve your goal.
- Keep Track of Your Progress (and pat yourself on the back!)
This is similar to solidifying your “why,” but focuses much more on creating incremental markers that encourage you to push further instead of giving up.
Think of it this way: it’s much more motivating to have a goal of running a 5 minute mile, and noticing how much time you shave off each week during your training, than simply running around the track and hoping to reach your “goal.” The markers you steadily reach keep you reaching for more, and create a momentum in your mind to move forward.
Along with this, it’s also important to stop once and awhile and pat yourself on the back for the markers you have reached. It’s easy to get so caught up in the goal that you start to resent not reaching it sooner … but this can actually de-motivate you in the long run.
Instead of constantly comparing yourself from where you are now to your goal, be sure to also look in the opposite direction, comparing yourself to how far you’ve come from day one.
3. Ask Yourself This One Question
Have you ever read a one-liner quote that changer your life, or maybe even just your perspective on a situation? When it comes to motivation, there are a few of the more cliche ones out there (“you only live once,” etc, etc…) that can inspire you to stay on track; however, I find that making these type of questions extremely personal can give you the metaphorical kick in the ass you may need. The following magic question should encourage you not only to get motivated for today … but to always keep in mind that how you live now creates who you are in the future.
Ready? The magic question is this:
“If I repeated this same day, or this same week, for the next 50 years … what would my life look like?”
If this week were on repeat, would you look the same as you always have? Would you feel better or worse? Be healthier or sicker? Stronger or the same?
Self- Motivation Gets Easier
Also, another important point to remember is that staying motivated to do anything – be it a new workout or eating healthier – is intrinsically tied to habit formation. The longer you stick to something new, the easier it’s going to become since it will eventually become habitual. Be sure to give yourself enough time of “pushing” to stay motivated (say, for 21 days since that is the standard length of time it takes to form a habit) and you’ll eventually be surprised when you no longer have to try so hard to “stay motivated.”
From here, habits then become a lifestyle, and by default, that means being motivated becomes your default.