It’s a lifestyle. It’s an attitude. It’s a mindset. Motivation is an ever-fluctuating dilemma that plagues each and every person in the world. Why do we do something... anything? Some people need it to add the extra mile to their run, some people need it to make the five minute drive to the gym, and some people need it just to get out of bed in the morning. Heck, one single person might use motivation to accomplish all three of those in one day. Having the desire to do something isn’t always enough, and motivation is what gives us that boost to get it done.
There are three elements to motivation: activation, persistence, and intensity.
Activation, or direction, is what triggers a behavior or action. It is the initial voice that screams “GO GO GO!” So maybe you were laying in bed scrolling through Instagram and you saw a “fitspo” doing a new exercise you want to try, or maybe you were on Pinterest and saw a tasty looking recipe you can’t wait to eat. This is the spark that gets the ball rolling. Procrastination is not on your side at this point of the motivation process.
Persistence is, in simple terms, sticking to what you started. So, maybe you started cooking that new recipe but you forgot a crucial ingredient; you hit an obstacle. You are going to persevere and fix your mistake. This is where stubborn people, like myself, thrive and can defeat whatever conflicts or deterrences that arise.
Lastly, intensity Is the vigor and effort you put into pursuing a goal. So maybe one person on a rowing machine is going balls to the wall, making the dang machine roar, meanwhile the person next to her might as well be going on a stroll through the park on their machine. For some people, being complacent or bored can take away motivation, so they need a challenge to keep it. For others, once they’ve started, they’re in it for the long haul regardless. You can also look at this as the amount of effort you’re putting in.
These three components determine what we do, how we do it, and how long we do it for. They are essentially part of everything we do, but are so different for every person.
Delving more into the activation portion of motivation, there are two types of this, at a glance: extrinsic and intrinsic. Why have you decided to be active? Why did you decide to go somewhere? Did you do it because you wanted to and you enjoy it, or was it an obligation of some sort?
Intrinsic motivation is when you do something for yourself, or it is personally rewarding to you. Do you go to an outdoor volleyball court on the weekend with friends because you enjoy it? Do you eat bananas because you genuinely enjoy eating them? Did you read your last book because you wanted to, or was it an assignment? This kind of motivation comes almost selfishly, however not necessarily in a toxic way.
Extrinsic motivation comes externally. SO, in this case, you probably really aren’t doing whatever it is for yourself. For example, maybe you are motivated to workout so that you lose weight for a beach vacation, or you are motivated to wake up earlier than you normally would because you have to be at work at a certain time. Realistically, majority of your intuitions will come externally. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I do think it is important to have some extent of awareness for why you are doing what you are.
The line between the two of these can absolutely get blurry in some cases, but I think having some idea of which of the two paths you’re following can help in decision making, overall happiness in life, as well as actually increasing your motivation when you need it.
It isn’t always easy to be motivated. There are definitely some days where the LAST thing I want to do is go workout. There are days where I don’t leave the house until I have to. While I would love to make you think that I’m always motivated and ready for whatever comes, that couldn’t be further from the truth. No one is constantly motivated and always ready or excited for the things in their life. Motivation is something that constantly fluctuates for every single person in the world. That being said, there are absolutely ways you can help yourself; help yourself get motivated, and help yourself succeed.
Routine does wonders. Waking up at the same time daily, working out at the same time daily, etc. Many people start their day by making their bed just to start a system of routine that can ignite your day with motivation from the very get-go. If something is consistently part of your schedule, it will make it more and more difficult to avoid.
“I don’t have time” is the adult version of “my dog ate my homework.” Look, if you make time for something, you HAVE the time for it. It is just up to you to make it enough of a priority. With that, you leave no room for excuses. If the gym is on your way home from work, keep a gym bag with a change of clothes in your car. Keep yourself prepared. Sure, you might be tired after work, but any exercise will be better than none at all.
I think this one is self-explanatory in that you can reward yourself for achieving your goals. Motivate yourself to not eat anything with more than 5 grams of sugar all day, then reward yourself with a piece of chocolate after dinner. If you lose 15 pounds by your goal date, reward yourself with a night out with your friends. Set new goals for yourself, and set a time frame for said goals. Having a set time restraint in this will be key, however, the shorter time frame you set is, the more likely it is that you successfully meet your goals. But be realistic!
Look for Inspiration
This is something many millionaire entrepreneurs, like Lyft Co-Founder Jordan Zimmerman, stand by. I talked about how I don’t always feel like working out. Well, I have a whole separate Instagram account that only follows fitness accounts so that I can scroll through that, either find a new exercise to try, or I may just feel motivated by seeing these other fitness professionals having a great workout. My point is, it doesn’t hurt to look for inspiration and It isn’t always going to just fall in your lap. Do not just wait to feel motivated.
Recognize your Progress
Yes, it is okay to be proud of yourself. ‘Seeing’ how far you’ve progressed from when you began can be such a major motivator. A great example is during a weight loss journey, take photos so you have this physical visual proof to compare, and see how far you’ve come. Do not compare yourself to others, compare your current self to your old self. Appreciate what you have already accomplished. A lot of things don’t happen overnight, so having some sort of “measurable” thing you can refer back to, helps so that you can stay motivated. This is why I am SO insistent that you be patient in any endeavor, especially in the fitness world.
Phone a Friend
Having a friend there to do whatever it is with you, can help with accountability. For some people, having plans to meet a friend at the gym or whatever it is you need motivation to do, will have a greater pull on getting you there. Then, you aren’t just letting yourself down, but someone else as well. While this may come off as a guilt trip, it has proven to work for many people and is usually beneficial to both parties.
Don’t get down when you don’t feel motivated. We all have those days, and it’s only human. But you don’t have to wait for motivation to come to you either. Remember why you are doing whatever it is that you’re doing, balance out how you are doing it and how long. Find what works for you to keep yourself motivated!