Motivation, something everyone struggles with at least every now and then. So, I sat down and thought about what keeps me motivated or (maybe more importantly) what happens if I don’t feel motivated?
In this context I think that talking about Motivation also automatically needs a chat about your reasons, expectations and goals. Most of the time motivation goes down if you feel like you are running in circles or running in place.
What I like to say though is that you don’t necessarily need a goal to try to achieve something but you certainly need a reason. It’s not easy to see the difference at first glance but goals are almost always linked to a time-line. I think people often mix up reason and goal and that it often leads to failure.
Goal is the point you want to achieve. Reason is the WHY you aim at to achieve a goal.
Keep the why in mind – it’s more important then the actual goal in my opinion.
Reading several boards every day (some linked to gaming, some to fitness, some to just general issues), it never was more obvious that setting goals for yourself is something everyone needs to do. Not only to feel some kind of accomplishment but also to have a target to aim for and to keep motivated. As much as I believe this to be true as much do I believe that having too high expectations or setting unrealistic goals can be very counter-productive, yes completely devastating to one’s progress and motivation.
Quite often when reading the Beachbody forums I come across posts where the poster is very disappointed about his/her progress and thinks a) they did something wrong or b) the program is not working. While certainly both assumption are very well possible in that context, the third option is hardly ever considered by the person her-/himself:
In any given situation, wanting to improve something, wanting to achieve something special in a game, trying to lose weight, trying to get a higher salary – if you set your goals too high you will burn out spending too much time to achieve this goal, specially if you set yourself a time limit that is not feasible. You are basically fighting against yourself while trying to achieve a goal which in itself is already a hard task.
The biggest issue that can hinder your motivation is lack of progress but funny enough, judging once progress is often linked to misinformation.
Instead of focusing on what you haven’t achieved so far, focus on what you have achieved:
Yes I still can’t see my abs 100% but I managed to go deeper into the hamstring stretch then ever before. It’s all about the little success to keep you motivated along the way for the bigger ones that take more time and patience to achieve.
Or another (made up) example not linked to the fitness environment:
Yes, I haven’t gotten that raise yet but I got a compliment from my boss today!
Yes I did eat that whole pack of potato chips today but I also had a cucumber for dinner!
Nuhuh..that’s not going to cut it 😉
So what do *I* do to keep motivated?
- I look for those little improvements
Any improvement keeps me motivated. Even baby steps. I don’t pressure myself to reach a specific goal in a specific deadline while still wanting to push as hard as I can. In turn I end up surprising myself and lessen the risk of disappointment.
- I look at other people
There are so many motivating stories out there. I always love to bring up the example of the guy with the artificial leg in the P90X Plyometric workout. Before and after pictures of other fitness fanatics also really keep me motivated. I simply refuse to believe that I can’t achieve the same results (eventually).
- I keep my general goal present in my mind every time I run the risk of giving up
Picturing myself having those sexy abs or fitting into a certain pair of pants again is motivation and answer to the question “why am I doing this?” As long as you can answer this question you will not run out of motivation.
- I think back to what I have achieved already and think back to how I felt before that
Thinking back how helpless, weak and tired I felt before I never want to get back to that feeling and I know I never will!
- Look at my own workout videos
I know, I know, it sounds horrible but as much as looking at other people’s videos motivates me as much does looking at mine, for different reasons though. Every time I keep working on editing some footage I get super annoyed that I took a break while I thought I could have pushed on. So the next time I do that exercises I am motivated to take the break later or not at all.
- Over-estimate yourself
The last point needs some explanation and funny enough just now there was a study published which explains what I mean by that statement above:
Become as good as you think you are
Self-deception is a common everyday phenomenon. Someone who sees the facts, but refuses to admit them, is generally described as unreasonable — wrongly, say Prof. Newen and Christoph Michel. Because self-deception can be an important factor in keeping up motivation. For example: if someone is not very good at mathematics, but convinces himself he is, this false self image can provide important motivation to prepare intensively for a math test. The hard facts on the other hand, for example, if his teacher tells him quite plainly that even if he works really hard he won’t get more than a D+, would destroy his motivation.
Distortion of reality is damaging
Of course, self-deception can also lead to a massive distortion of reality. If a father e.g. puts his 16-year-old son’s declining school marks down to his puberty and persuades himself that they will get better again by themselves, but ignores the fact that his son is skipping days of school, coming home drunk every weekend and hiding alcohol in his room , the self-deception no longer has a positive effect. In this case, it leads to a distortion of reality, which becomes harmful for the self-deceiver who is interested in the welfare of his son.
Keep finding reasons. If you only have a certain goal in your mind what are you going to do if you reached it? Again, little improvements are the key here. I don’t need to lose weight and I have been toning up quite nicely already so now I am looking to increase those push-up and pull-up reps. It does sound like a goal doesn’t it? The difference, again, is that I don’t set myself a time-line as to when to achieve this, I don’t really care how long it takes but I do care about the fact that I will reach it eventually.
Of course, not setting a deadline might in some cases lead to slacking, but if that happens and you need the time pressure to really “bring it”, then I think you weren’t really thinking of your improvement or reasons as life changing..
So what are your motivations?