Motivation, determination, discipline, guts, desire, dedication, tenacity, moxie, etc. It doesn’t matter what you call it but we all have an internal voice that keeps pushing us and keeps us going when we all want to quit. This feeling is strongest right when we start something new and all too often fizzles away after days, weeks or months. Motivation is amazing to get you off your butt and moving but its takes more than just that to stick with it over a lifetime! What can we do to keep ourselves motivated and how can we use this inspiration and motivation to achieve success?
Inspiration Without Action
I’m a sucker for 80’s movies. I’ve expressed my love for the Rocky series already but I can’t help that every damn time I watch Rocky training in the street of Philly or standing toe to toe with Drago, I get inspired. I feel the sudden urge to go out for a run and it revamps my spirit to hit it even harder in the gym.
Inspiration can come from anywhere. Three years ago I bought a piano, wholeheartedly planning to teach myself and master it. I played with it for a couple weeks, spent hours downloading sheet music and buying a beginners book, practicing scales and playing basic songs* but now it sits collecting dust. Every now and then I hear a song and become re-inspired to become a grand pianist… but hours later after struggling through fingering the major scales, the fire is gone. Inspiration is great but without an action plan or goals to work towards inspiration is never enough.
Sticking With it
What I see in the gym is someone gets inspired to get into shape, commonly after a break up. But with no course of action they just aimlessly meanders around the weights for a week or two then disappear never to return to the gym. DON’T BE THAT PERSON! Use your motivation and inspiration to build yourself a plan that you can follow. What can you do to keep yourself going?
- Have a good reason – In my mind this is one of the most important things that is so overlooked! Why do you want to do something? You need to have a sound reason to put yourself through any hardship. If your sole reason to go to the gym is something shallow like “I wanna get gurls” you’re not likely to stick to the gym. You need to have a good reason like; improving your health, confidence, physical abilities, etc. If you want to just get girls that’s great, but you’ll have much better luck learning talk to women, being funny, smooth, and charismatic instead of focusing just on looks. When you have a good reason and a clear enough vision you can and will make dreams a reality!
- Monitor progress – I do this with everything! Trying to lose or gain weight? Chart your results! Saving for retirement? Chart your results! Trying to start a helpful blog?? You get the idea. Seeing your progress really helps keep the motivation train rolling! If you’ve eaten healthy for 10 days straight you’ll think twice before ruining that perfect streak and giving into that tempting donut. Seeing how far you’ve come gives your motivation levels a nice kick in the butt!
- Make your goals known – Tell people what you’re planning to do and how you want to do it. Have friends or family members hold you accountable and push you when your motivation is dwindling. Have a gym partner who is counting on you to keep that brodivation. Make a bet like “I won’t eat fast food for a month” and if you lose you have to pay the person $50. Self-motivation is tough to maintain so bring in some extra help from those around you! Having a supportive group of friends can be a game changer for you motivation levels.
- Make it fun – You’ll be more likely to stick with it if you enjoy what you’re doing. Hate cardio? Then don’t do it. Focus on eating less and lifting weight or find a way to make cardio fun to you. Thermodynamics was my worst subject and I HATED studying for it… That was until I started going to the computer labs with friends and “racing” to see who could solve the problems fastest. This helped me not only learn the material but have fun in the process. Finding the fun in life will make everything much easier in the long run.
- Baby steps – Take your large goal and break it down into manageable chunks. If I’m lacking motivation for the gym, I’ll force myself to get dressed, put my shoes on and take a preworkout. When I want to lose 10 lbs I set a goal of 1lb/week. I force myself to sit down and open MS Word even when I don’t feel like writing. Once these tiny first steps are completed I’m less likely to throw in the towel. This will make even the most daunting tasks seem like a piece of cake!
- Sign up for classes – Making a monetary commitment will make you less likely to back out. If I just signed up for some piano lessons I know for a fact I would go to every class and practice daily ensuring I get my money’s worth from it. Signing up for a crossfit or spin class or maybe a local 5k run might be just the right thing to keep yourself on track.
Next time you get that jolt of inspiration don’t waste it! Structure yourself to succeed in anything you do in life. You’re motivation levels ARE going to drop, and that’s OK. But now you are prepared to fight back and stay strong! So get motivated, get out there, and stick with it!
*I’m thinking of taking my rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on tour! Keep your eyes peeled for “EG’s Prelude of the Gym in D minor” starting 2017
**Bonus picture of my pops and I at the Philadelphia Museum of Art many years ago. Had to take a pilgrimage to see the Rocky statue and run up the stairs. After being winded from the stairs and seeing myself in these photos I knew I needed to start taking my health and fitness more seriously. This was a major turning point in my life.