How to Find (and Keep ) Your Motivation

Author - Stephen Griffith C.S.C.S. Pn1

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Getting things done requires work. Work that can require more energy than we want to spend.

So instead we lay on the sofa wishing, hoping that we had that special something to move us to action. To will us to the gym, or to cook a healthy dinner instead of eating out.

That special something is called motivation.

Motivation is like a super-boost to your willpower.

When your motivated to achieve a goal things like going to the gym or eating healthy feels easy to do. If your feeling really motivated someone might even have to tell you to take it easy.

Contrast that to the person who loses motivation. For a demotivated person any action can feel difficult and insurmountable.

In this article I want to go over a few ways to help you find your motivation and maintain it as you work towards your goals.

Define Your Goal

The first step to getting and staying motivated is to have a goal.

After-all the literal definition of motivation is ‘your reason for acting’

Having a goal that is meaningful, specific, and excites you is key to being and remaining motivated. Without it you're likely to just meander around not making real progress.

What is it that you want to do? What would you like to achieve?   

  • Is it an aesthetic goal? For example, toning up? Toning the booty? Sculpting a 6 pack? What does the ideal you look like?

  • Is there a performance goal? for example, doing a full pull up, running a 5k, or completing a kettlebell challenge?

  • Is it a health goal? To not have to take medications anymore? To have the energy to play with the kids after work? To fix your knee so you no longer have to be in pain?

Figure out what your goal is and describe it in as much detail as possible.  I want you to really paint a picture of what it is you ant to achieve.

Simplify Your Goal

Having a grand audacious goal is great.  It will be the guiding force to your transformation.

However, to make progress you need something closer. Something tangible that is attainable in the short term on route to your destination.

It’s these smaller milestones that will act as constant positive reinforcement along the way giving you little doses of motivation when you need it.

Consider the example of a client of mine who wanted to run her first marathon. We had one year to take her from nothing to a marathoner. So we broke her big grand audacious goal down into smaller more manageable ones.

  • We started with a goal of completing one full week of walking 20 minutes each day to help build the habit and get her out the door.

  • Next it was a walk/run program.

  • Completing 1 mile without walking.

  • Completing her first 5k.

  • Completing her first 10k

  • Completing her First half marathon

  • Completing her first 15 mile long run.

  • Eventually she toed the line and completed her first full marathon.

Now it’s your turn. One thing that may help for this is creating a few SMART goals. SMART goals stands for goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely.

For example I will run a sub 20 minutes 5k in before the end of the summer.

Below is a copy of our SMART Goals PDF you can use to help you.

SMART Goals

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Find Your Why

When things get tough a good why is the difference between getting up in the morning when your tired or pushing through a tough set when you just want to go home.

Having a good why makes all the difference.  It’s the thing you can always reach for when you need that extra kick in the butt of motivation.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help find your why.

1st - Why is achieving this goal important to you?

We don’t want your superficial answer for this like “I just want to be healthy.”

We want to get to that deep driving reason this is important. The one the makes you feel emotional as you think of it.

For example, I also have a goal to be healthy and the reason is because I’ve watched my parents struggle with the repercussions of living an unhealthy life. I’ve watched them live in pain everyday,  struggle through health incidents, and be unable to live their lives in a joyful way and that terrifies me. That's My Why.

To help with this I suggest you try the 5 whys exercise. How does it work?

State your goal, and then ask why this goal is important to you. Say the first thing that comes to your head.

Next, ask why again.

Each time you answer ask why again until the point where more whys don’t make any more sense. This will be your Why.

This will be what you reach for when to motivation tanks running low.

Keep Your Vision in Sight

Why did Trump win the last election? In large part because he created a more compelling image of the future than his competitor. He painted a picture of change, of a strong and prosperous America, free of corruption and full of jobs. An homage to the good old days.

You need to have a compelling vision for yourself. Having a compelling vision of your future is a valuable source you can draw on when you need a little motivation.

Here are three questions to paint your picture.

How do you see yourself when you reach your goal?

  • Who are you with?

  • What are you doing?

  • Where are you?

How will your life be different once you achieve your goal?

What will happen if you don’t achieve your goal?

The 2nd part. - Make it Visible.

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Write down your goal, your vision, and the action you need to are currently working on.

Now put this somewhere you can see it every day such as your bedroom, bathroom mirror or fridge.

This trick is a good way to stay motivated by keeping your reason for success in sight as a constant reminder.

However compelling image of our futures isn’t the only reason we vote for a candidate. The other big reason is because we believe that they can get us there.

Have a Plan

Plenty of people can paint a picture of something worth having.

Like a restaurant centered with a giant adult ball pit and puppies in hats.

Great idea, yes. Should be done, absolutely. But you won’t be motivated to take action unless you believe it can be achieved.

This is where having a plan comes in handy.

A plan takes those audacious goals of yours and shows how to make them a reality.

It gives you actionable steps you can take that eventually lead you to your goals.

Our recommendations for finding a plan - hire a professional.

Sure it’s possible to make one yourself.

Or you may be tempted to just buy a program online, and that could work. But understand that the programs you buy online make certain assumptions about you.

They assume that you a healthy, mobile, injury free, individual who knows how to properly perform exercises correctly.

If that is not you then you should definitely hire a professional who can tailor a program to your needs and goals allowing you to train confidently that you won’t be doing more damage than good.

A professional who can create a program that you can believe in. Because if you don’t believe that it will bring you success you won’t be motivated to do it.

Get Started

There is no better motivator than success and no bigger demotivator than failure.

This is why you need to set yourself up for success. You’ve already taken a few steps towards this by setting goals, finding your why and creating a plan.  

But now it’s time to take the hardest step - getting started. Like newton's law objects at rest would like to remain at rest, while objects in motion will remain in motion.

Many people believe that motivation is a magical force that will float into their lives, but sometimes you just have to make it.

Take what motivation you’ve made so far and apply it to getting started. Once your get over the hump of getting started it will be easier to maintain your actions.

And once you’re seeing progress that progress will help feed your motivation to do more and to do better.

Simplify the task

Just like we simplified your goals, we need to simplify the action you need to reach those goals.

The more you expect yourself to do, the higher the barrier of entry will be to do it.

The more complex a task is the less likely it is to get done. For this reason, keep your goals and tasks as simple as possible.

Make it easy to succeed.

For example, set a minimal workout. A small commitment- I will work out twice a week, and I will do these 4 exercises. If you do more great, if you do less, that's ok as well because you showed up and did what you needed to, to make progress.

This is the Premise of my Zero to One Program.

I would suggest a similar approach for you as well to get started.

Keep track of your success

Create and keep a workout and or food log. This is one of the actions I've found to correlate most to our students achieving their goals. The students that keep the log make great progress almost 100% of the time. The ones who refused to keep a log really struggled to make progress.

Besides being a useful tool for keeping you focused, prepared, and make progress it can also serve as one of your biggest motivators.

Day to day it’s hard to see the changes that happen and the progress your making. However, having a log allows you to see your personal best and gives you a goal to beat. It also allows you to look back and see all the work you’ve put in. All the progress you’ve made.

Now that’s inspiring.

A workout log can be an expensive journal, a notebook from the dollar store,  a spreadsheet or an online app. What you use doesn’t matter as long as you can (and will ) use it to keep track of your progress.

Below is a PDF you can print up and use. You can place it in a workout binder after each workout.

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Workout Log PDF Download

My favorite food log app is YouAte. It’s a Photo Food log that you can download on your phone that has a very user friendly design. I highly recommend it.

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Lastly - Feed the Beast

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Like a campfire you must always be gathering and collecting new wood to throw on in order to keep it burning brightly.

Find inspiring stories of people, look for books on the subject of what your hoping to achieve, watch relevant videos. Always be feeding the flame.

One of the best ways to get a little extra kick in the butt to eat healthy is to read or watch a documentary on the subject. Learn all the wonderful benefits that you will reap by adding fresh veggies to your diet. Learn all the perils you’ll be avoiding by avoiding refined sugars and junk food.

In college when I was training over the summer I would read Running With The Buffalos. It was a book that moved me emotionally and fired me up to hit the trails the next morning.

Find what works for you and indulge.

Summary

Motivation is a powerful force to overcome the limits of your willpower. However motivation is volatile - it ebbs and flows. When you have it you feel unstoppable and when you don’t you'll be unable to muster the strength to do anything.

In this article I went over a few ways to find motivation and maintain it as you train.

  • Define you goals

  • Know why it’s important

  • Keep it visible and on the top of your mind.

  • Have a plan you believe in.

  • Create opportunities for success with small achievable task

  • Track that progress with a workout and food log

  • And lastly, feed it with relevant content.

If your struggling with getting started or feel your running out of gas then use these tips above to help bring that spark back.

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Stephen GriffithComment