Keeping your Motivation Alive
Unfortunately, most of us find it a lot easier to get motivated than to stay that way. Just like New Year’s Resolutions that often fall by the wayside before March ever arrives, we sometimes see something as a good idea, or even necessary, but then begin losing interest down the road. That can happen for a lot of different reasons.
It may be because we get bored with something that’s no longer “new” or “fun”. Or it may be because something turns out to be more difficult than we anticipated. Sometimes, we just find ourselves facing too many priority-one things, and something has to give.
The truth, though, if we’re painfully honest with ourselves, is that when we start feeling unmotivated about something, it’s usually because we’ve lost sight of what originally motivated us. The memories of that sometimes can fade after our initial enthusiasm and conviction wear off.
This problem isn’t new and it isn’t unique to fitness enthusiasts. It’s been around for as long as man and there aren’t any signs of it disappearing anytime soon. However, since motivation is all in our minds, maybe we can find a way to keep our mind from losing interest in things that are important to us.
Sure, if you have enough willpower, you can make yourself do something, even without motivation. But it can be a lot more enjoyable if we feel motivated – we’re doing something we want to be doing. Besides, as long as we’re being honest with ourselves… many of us don’t have a ton of willpower.
So here are some principles for keeping that motivation alive, not just in your fitness efforts, but in just about any undertaking. For this example, though, we’ll assume the goal is fitness oriented (big surprise, right?).
Top 5 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Exercise and Keep the Motivation Alive
1. Set goals
You’re not going to achieve what you don’t go after, and without having a specific goal, success will always be out of your reach. I don’t mean a blurry goal like “get in shape” or “lose fat” – those are far too vague to be effective goals. “Add 9 inches to my chest” or “get down to 5% body fat”, though, are specific enough to be able to measure your progress and know when you’ve hit the target.
2. Break your goals down
If you’ve set yourself a goal to reduce from 12% body fat down to 4%, you may find that it will be a lot easier to stay motivated by setting a 1% reduction goal per week. That’s measurable and will be a lot less discouraging after many weeks have passed and you still haven’t hit that mega-goal. If you need to lose 100 pounds of fat, that makes a lousy goal. But if you set out to lose 8 pounds each week until you’ve lost a total of 100 pounds, that’s not nearly as intimidating. Week after week without seeing your goal getting perceptibly closer can get pretty discouraging. Remember, you’re trying to keep your mind enthusiastic about this.
3. Track progress
Keeping a exercise journal is extremely important. That way, you can see your progress. Don’t underestimate the effect of seeing in your journal how much you’ve already accomplished, when you hit a momentary plateau or setback. Tracking your progress will also help you spot stumbling blocks. Fitness coach and psychotherapist Dr. Michael Gerrish said: “Monitoring your progress will help you determine when and how to make adjustments over time. It will also give you clues about where you might be sabotaging your success.” Don’t just keep a journal, either… review it regularly, and take lots of notes. A few weeks from now, you won’t remember how you felt – write it down. It may come in handy.
4. Be excellent
Don’t try to be perfect, just be excellent! If you set challenging goals for yourself, you’re bound to miss a milestone now and then – it’s to be expected. The key is to keep plugging away until you achieve the goal you set yourself. If it takes 12 weeks instead of 10, big deal! The point is, you achieved it! Don’t let little hiccups get you down… they’re part of the process.
5. Take a break
Everyone needs to take a break once in a while – you too. You need to keep some time aside for not being focused on your goals. Your body needs rest and so does your mind… both can burn out, so don’t push yourself relentlessly. Better to take a day off to rest than a month off to recover from burnout. After your mind and body have recharged, you’ll be ready to get back at it with renewed enthusiasm.
These five principles can help you keep yourself motivated with all your exercise and fitness goals, particularly when you’ve set some really ambitious goals. Take advantage of them to overcome the hundreds of little road-bumps that can get in your way and you’ll find yourself achieving your fitness goals more rapidly and more easily. With that will come more confidence, making the next time easier yet.
See how it feeds on itself?