How do you find motivation? It’s the blight every gym goer. And almost anyone else you can think of.
First, it’s helpful to define what it is – motivation is essentially your willingness to do something. In other words, your desire to complete a task is greater than the resistance to it.
A common misconception about motivation is it must be found before doing something. You think, “Oh I need to find motivation within to do x, y…I don’t know if I can do it”.
That’s not the case.
The Hardest Part is Getting Started
Motivation comes after beginning. In fact, getting started is the hardest part. Once you’ve started, consistency becomes vital to sustaining motivation.
It’s a key psychological concept of the human brain. Motivation comes as we see small and steady increments in our progress. This is known as the ‘Goldilocks Zone’ – something not too tough, not too easy, but just right.
The crucial part is to become slightly uncomfortable. Small challenges work best because they’re achievable. And satisfaction from that achievement is the driver behind motivation.
So how does it work in practice? Where do you get started?
Let’s use exercise as our main example. As a novice, you start simple. It could be as basic as a ten-minute walk. Next time, you’d try a twelve-minute walk or a thirteen-minute walk. You don’t need to put pressure on yourself. That’s the worst thing to do.
Find something that’s easy to achieve, but slightly harder than the last time.
We haven’t reached the best part yet…
Momentum is a Powerful Thing
The thing is, once you start seeing progress the dread of finding motivation and overcoming resistance often disappears. You want to get out of bed. You’re excited to keep going. You don’t have to think about it.
It’s not always essential, but having a set routine can be a big help. Once you’ve nailed a routine, it’s simple to gradually increase the difficulty of your workout.
If you’re making habitual changes, make those changes easy to integrate to your existing schedule. Most people find it easier to make time in the morning. There’s less distraction, your energy’s higher and your mind is fresher.
As a basic plan, you could get up and do some form of exercise at 7AM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That’s it. No need to overcomplicate.
Guilt is Stronger Than Regret
Finally, it’s rare to find anyone who’s regretted doing a workout. The exception is people already unwell, and exercise put extra stress on their immune system.
But it’s more likely you’ll be wrapped with guilt for not exercising. And you can use that as fuel. Even if your energy’s low and you don’t feel like it today, just go through the motions. Get it done. Don’t feel pressured to perform at your best every day.
Chances are if you’re reading this, you’re not an Olympic athlete. So you don’t need to train like one.
One more thing – track your progress. Not everyone can or wants to, but it can be valuable. Keep a simple diary, paper or digital. It’s a brilliant reference to check over time.
Once you’ve seen how far you’ve come, you’re way more likely to keep going. Plus, if life gets in the way for a week or two, you pick up from exactly where you left off.
It’s easy for the mind to become cluttered, so leave a trail of your actions to minimize the number of things you must cram in there!
In summary, there are three things vital to finding motivation:
- Start small – making huge changes immediately is probably unsustainable. And overwhelm sets in quickly. Be kind to yourself.
- Make it slightly challenging – find the Goldilocks Zone
- Measure your progress – keep track of your activities so it’s easier to identify what you’ve done and set goals for the future
Want more? Check out my quick video with my top tips for motivating yourself.