Let's talk motivation! But first, what does motivation mean?
The desire or willingness to do something.
The reason(s) for behaving a certain way.
Another way to describe motivations is as "behavioral inertia". It is the energy and direction behind our behaviors. So, how do we change our behavioral energy and direction?
Tips to Get Motivated
Use External & Internal Motivation
Internal motivation come from internal rewards we get from engaging in an activity. With exercise, you may be motivated because it leaves you feeling satisfied. Or, you may include it as part of your identity which makes you value exercises
External motivation comes from external benefits from engaging in an activity. This may be getting a new workout outfit after completing a month of programming or maybe you add money to your vacation spending budget for every workout you burn over 300 calories.
Don't Rely on Motivation, USE IT
Motivation is for keeping your momentum, it is not for getting you started. Use it as a source of energy to keep you engaged and working towards your goal. It is not your kickstarter.
Force The Issue
You can either wait around and hope you find motivation or you can force the issue. Waiting around sounds like the following: - When I am mentally ready, I will go exercise. - I will try to use internal motivation to get myself to do it. - I will watch some motivational videos and get pumped up for it. In each of these examples, you do not have control of when or if the feeling to be motivated occurs. Forcing the issue sounds like this: - My exercise is on my calendar, so I will complete it. - I registered for a Tough Mudder, so I will prepare myself for it. - I sold my golf cart, so I will walk in my community/on the golf course. Forcing the issue structures your environment to limit your ability to be unmotivated.
Move Past Motivation
Motivation is for the early stages until an activity becomes a habit. Stick to your process long enough to not need to rely on motivation and for a behavior to feel natural and a part of your routine.
Growth Over Outcome
Often times, when we focus too heavily on an outcome, especially one that is challenging and will take a long time to achieve, we begin to lose motivation. The real goal should be growth, not an outcome. Focus on being better today than yesterday. Focus on learning, improving, and finding ways to grow.
Tips to Stay Motivated
Having motivation is not enough to keep you motivated. Rather, you should pair motivation with intent, most importantly, with a plan. Your plan adds intention to your feelings of motivation that you will rely on to make your activity a habit.
Your plan should be:
You can also make statements of intent like:
"When my alarm goes off, I will get out of bed, get dressed, and drive to the gym."
"When I leave work, I will stop at the park on the way home and walk outside."
"At the top of every hour, I will get up from my desk, drink a glass of water, and take a brief stroll around the office."
The more specific your plan and statements of intent are the better. We can take the same statements from above and clearly define them as follows:
"When my alarm goes off at 6:30 AM on weekdays, I will get out of bed, get dressed in the clothes I laid out the night before, drive to the gym, and exercise until 7:30 AM."
"When I leave work at 5:00 PM, I will stop at the park on the way home and speed-walk outside for 30 minutes in order to burn 100 calories."
"When my watch alarm goes off at the top of every hour, I will get up from my desk, drink 8 oz of water, and take a brisk 5 minute stroll around the office."