No motivation is constant
People who struggle with maintaining a consistent workout routine often tell me that it’s because they lack motivation. They talk about it as something that some people seem to have and others don’t. They also claim that even if they sometimes tend to catch, they always lose it just as quickly. But what if I told you that no one is constantly motivated. What if the trick is not to become good at keeping it, but to become good at creating it in a way that even when you feel like you’ve lost it, you know exactly how and where to find it again.
Define your 3-step Goal
What’s important to understand about motivation is that it is highly individual, so the first thing you need to do is to be completely honest to yourself about what your desires are. WHY do you want to workout? When you have the answer to that, you can then set up a goal. Try to be as detailed as you can about it, because the more clear you can be, the easier it will be to recall it in your mind. If your goal is something you know will take a longer time to achieve, putting up small goals will work as breadcrumbs leading you to the main one. To make the small goals realistic you need to admit to where you currently are. Because putting up unachievable goals and failing them, will only leave you feeling even less motivated than you were when you started. My advise is to put up a 3-step goal – minimum, normal and high. For example, I had a main goal to become an everyday-runner. However, I knew that if I tried to go from doing it once a week to everyday, I wouldn’t be able to keep that promise to myself and thus feel like a failure. Therefore my normal goal was to do it 3 times a week. Anything more than that was in my head considered as extra. But it also meant that on weeks when I felt stressful or tired, I needed a smaller one as well. Since I already was doing it once a week, I knew that adding one more was achievable for me, so my minimum became 2 times/week. What I discovered was that when I had done the two minimum, I always felt so close to the normal goal, the next breadcrumb, that doing one more wasn’t really an effort at all. Most weeks, even after the third one was completed, I felt so proud of myself that it fuelled my motivation to do another one. What was most surprising was the fact that my main goal (to run every day) was set up to be achieved after 4 months but at week 7 I was already there. This way of relating to my workout routine took all the pressure and fear of failing away, so I decided to keep the normal and minimum standard in my head, even when I was already doing it everyday. Thanks to that, I always felt like I was doing more than enough. Today, 6 years later, the routine has become my favourite part of the day. I still keep the 3-step goals but since there’s no struggle about doing it everyday, I’ve now changed them into how many kilometres I will do.
I always tell my clients to keep a fitness journal where they write down their main goal and why they want to achieve it. I then ask them to write down every step they take towards it, no matter how small or big it is. Keeping track of how far you’ve come is crucial for the days when you feel far away from where you want to be. I encourage them to read the journal everytime they feel unmotivated. Remembering your goal and seeing that you are actually closer to it now than you were when you started, will automatically make it feel easier to achieve. It takes you out of the feeling of being stuck.
Find your way
There is also a shortcut to maintaining motivation and it is to find joy in the practice. Find a way to achieve your goal that feels joyful to you. If you want to burn fat but you hate cardio, then try zumba or CrossFit. If you find a workout that you can actually enjoy the practice of, you won’t need the motivation in order to keep doing it. The practice in and of itself will be your motivation fuel. That means, putting on your workout clothes and turning up can instead be seen as your breadcrumbs. But if you can’t find a workout form that ultimately fills you with joy, try to find another motive than the practice itself that can be. For example one thing I absolutely love is music. So, when I’m about to go out running, I also get to look forward to letting myself get completely absorbed by the music. I have even created a playlist with my favourite workout songs that I only allow myself to listen to when I’m out running. If you’re a social person, find a someone you can do your workouts with. If you love movies, try to find a workout that you can do whilst watching movies. Stepping out of the normal way of working out is where you find what is actually working for you and when you do – you won’t ever have to look anywhere for motivation, suddenly you become your own source of it.
Find a way to achieve your goal that feels joyful to you.
— Joanna Backas, Personal Trainer @ Wellyfit.com