There are many a day when I lament my lack of motivation to do something – go to the gym, get outside for a walk, finish a blog post, do the dishes. Some of these are random and transient, and are no big deal – I get over it enough to be consistent with that particular task. Others seem to be deeply entrenched and a constant battle to overcome. (And sometimes the best thing to do is to take some time off so you can come back refreshed and ready to kick some booty! ;-D)
Can you relate?
I think we all have something (or many things) that we struggle with. The pull of inertia keeps us from making progress on our goals. And that feels pretty crappy.
But according to Charles Duhigg in his latest book, Smarter Faster Better, motivation is a skill. And one that can be learned and honed over time.
Actively cultivating this mindset helps us to work harder and longer and to overcome adversity.
This is why taking a habit-based, step-by-step approach to fitness and fat loss can be so effective. When we focus on small behaviors and choices, we get those quick victories that create momentum and snowball into bigger results. We see that changing even just one thing that we do every day makes a difference. We feel more in control, and yes, motivated to keep going.
Action begets motivation, not the other way around.
So how do we do this?
Infuse meaning and purpose into those individual actions. Continually ask yourself: “Why am I doing this? What's my true motivation?"
Say it out loud, and even better, write it down. Do this every day if you want -- heck, multiple times a day. Remember why you are doing this workout, eating this meal, going to bed early. The answer has to be something that jives with your values and is emotionally rewarding, like having the energy to play with your kids or coach their soccer team. Simply wanting to “look better” or “get a six-pack for my beach vacay” is not enough for long-lasting, meaningful results.
Now dig a little deeper to get to the root of your desire by completing the “5 Whys” exercise.
Why do I want to lose weight? So my clothes fit better and I can finally follow through on a workout program.
Why? I’m sick of feeling like a failure every time I quit after just a few weeks and gain all the weight back.
Why? I want to feel proud of myself and more confident.
Why? When I feel confident, I’m more proactive about going after what I want.
Why? I’m not happy with how my life is going at the moment, and I’d like to make some big, scary changes.
Uncovering the real reasons for our health and fitness goals is critical to our long-term success. It’s what will get us out of the bed at 5am in the dead of winter. It’s what will give us the extra kick in the butt to do 5 more minutes on the treadmill or 1 more set of squats when we’re feeling worn out. It’s what will convince us to choose the salad over the cheeseburger at lunch.
When we tie in our habits and behaviors with a deeply held value that we would move mountains to protect, we are all but ensuring continued motivation, even during the tough times, which will lead to greater consistency, and thus results.
So not only do we get the body we want, but we get numerous other benefits as well that are even more meaningful to us and go far beyond the fun, superficial stuff.
What's your Why???