A gym member I coach recently was telling me that they felt horrible because they just haven’t “been motivated” to work out or focus on nutrition lately. This topic had been on my mind for a while and my answer was a little impulsive, inarticulate, but truthful. Ready for what it was?
“Motivation is BS.” (except I used the whole phrase).
Motivation is a word that gets thrown around a lot around setting and keeping goals…fitness, career, nutrition, financial. Almost anything really. And it’s a word that I think can do more harm than good in the long run without a good understanding of what it really means and how you should use it in your life.
Motivation is defined (according to Google) as the general desire or willingness of someone to do something or the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
So motivation may be the reason we get started but it doesn’t keep us going. Most of the time, we start any new goal or program with vigor and enthusiasm. Cue “Eye of the Tiger” or “You’re the Best Around” playing in your head as you picture yourself achieving said goal. You’re crushing it. Kicking ass. Taking names. But then life happens, stress happens, you get busy or the process to get there isn’t fun or exciting anymore. Finding that “motivation” again can feel a little like emotional hide-n-go seek with ourselves. And when we can’t find that elusive motivation, we take it as a character flaw, a personal failure, think there must be something wrong with us because we aren’t motivated, and then we give up.
So what should we do instead of giving up?
First of all, recognize from the get-go that the motivation WILL NOT STAY AROUND. You have to expect it to be gone from day to day, maybe even week to week. You won’t be as caught off guard when it does go hiding on you if you remember that motivation is fleeting.
Second, go back to the habits and practices that you had in place when you did feel like you were making progress (go to the gym, get to that meal prep, drink the water, go to bed early). Motivation may have gotten you started but habits are really what keep you going!
Finally, just do the thing. There are many times that you won’t WANT to do the thing, the habit, the practice we know is good for us….DO IT
ANYWAY. I can guarantee you that nearly every competitive athlete or successful entrepreneur has had days or weeks where they didn’t want to do the work they knew was necessary for their goals. But they do it anyway. I’m telling you, do it anyway.
And, before you know it, your old pal motivation may just find their way back to you.