What is Motivation?

Motivation isn’t a magical idea that results in success. It is an accumulation of skills or traits that, when used correctly, give you the best shot at achieving your goals.  Motivation can and will come and go. What you do when motivation is low, in part, defines how you progress.

Two definitions of motivation really stick out.  1) The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.   2) The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

If we look at the first definition, it taps into an extremely important idea: YOUR reason to change, your WHY.  Do you know why you want to achieve your goals?  So you want to lose weight, WHY?  What would losing weight change? What will be different when you lose weight?  If you don’t know the answer to these questions, and the answers are more than “because” or “I should” or “_____ said I should.”  Then this is a clear indication why your results might be lacking. Motivation is driven by desire. If you don’t really want to change, YOU WON’T.

Your reason(s) need to be so important that you have no other choice than to act.  Do you always want to go to work? I’m betting that the answer is no. Then why do you keep going back?  Your motivation is probably one or more of the following: paying the bills, feeding your family, providing shelter, having money for recreation, etc.  These reasons are important enough to override the potential negative aspects of working.  The results/benefits outweigh the consequences.  If the results, or perceived results, of your health and fitness aren’t important enough, your motivation will be lacking.  You will be more likely to prioritize other things over changes to your health and fitness.

Similarly, the second definition touches on willingness – you must be willing to put in the work required to make the change.  If you aren’t willing to change, it will be a constant battle; you wont even want to show up.  You are essentially doomed to fail before you even start.

So what do you do? First start by discovering your why. This isn’t easy. In fact, it can be quite challenging for some. Dig deep and find what you want to be different and why that matters. How will your life change if you achieve your specific goal?

Next find one or more people to hold you accountable.  A friend or family member can be great.  BUT, you must find someone who supports the change, who doesn’t act opposite of the proposed change, and who wants you to be successful.  Similarly, a coach/trainer can be an amazing resource for accountability.  If you don’t constantly remind yourself about the goal and the plan, if you ignore mistakes, you won’t get very far.  Accountability is crucial to success.  The electric bill is a constant source of accountability to keep you going to work and earning your paycheck. Find something similar for your health and fitness.

Start with small steps; if you set unrealistic goals, all the motivation in the world won’t make you successful.

Plan to work hard and make SACRIFICES.  Change requires you to, well, change.  If you continue old habits it won’t magically lead to change.  However, if you are willing to make changes, develop new habits, then you will see progress. Remember the old saying  “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” While that may not be a textbook definition of insanity, it certainly depicts the need to make changes.

Recognize old habits that inhibit your progress. Understand that you will likely, depending on your mood, have days that you don’t feel like doing the things necessary to achieve your goal.  But remember your WHY, remind yourself of what you have to gain if you do what is uncomfortable.  Use your why to give you the kick in the pants to get going.  Let the idea of staying the same drive you to change. Don’t accept the same lifestyle that led to your current situation.

Just keep going, don’t stop.  Tell yourself you can quit tomorrow.  Then tomorrow, tell yourself you can quit tomorrow, and so on. YOU DON’T NEED TO BE PERFECT. I can’t stress that enough so I will say it again, YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE PERFECT!!!!!!!!! All you have to do is keep making progress, no matter how small it is.

Lastly, motivation is a skill that you can develop. If you practice these habits and learn from the mistakes that you will make along the way, you can get better and better at staying motivated toward any goal you set forth.  Practice makes perfect.

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