Success isn’t overnight. It’s when every day you get a little better than before. It adds up – Dwayne Johnson
Question: I need help regarding motivation. It’s always been my biggest struggle. Whatever I do, I just can’t stay motivated enough to eat right and work out, which stops me from being consistent, which prevents me from making progress. What can I do to change this?
This is one of the most common questions I’ve been asked, and the answer is the complete opposite of what you think it is.
If you struggle with motivation, please pay very close attention.
Most people approach goals like losing fat or building muscle with motivation as the sole (or at least, primary) factor getting them to consistently do what needs to be done.
This is great, except for one thing: motivation is temporary.
It goes up and down over the course of a day, comes and goes over the course of weeks, and completely vanishes and eventually reappears (if you’re lucky) over a span of months, years, and decades.
It’s something that could be there in full force on Monday but then not be there at all on Tuesday.
Yet this is the thing you (and everyone else) have decided to rely on to get yourself to consistently do what needs to be done on a daily basis?
That’s never going to work.
You’re doomed from the start with this approach.
To begin with, motivation is a wonderful thing for getting people to START doing something, but it isn’t very good for getting people to continue doing that thing on a consistent basis.
And that’s why the real problem here has nothing to do with your lack of motivation, or your inability to “stay motivated.”
“Staying motivated” doesn’t exist, so let’s permanently remove that concept from your brain and stop wasting your time searching for it.
You’ll never find it.
Instead, the real problem is your belief that motivation is something you need to have in order to do what needs to be done.
For these purposes, take me, for example.
Do you think I’m always motivated to work out? 3-5 days per week? Every week? For the last 15 years?
But yet I don’t miss workouts.
And do you think I’m always motivated to eat right? And stick to my diet? And eat the right amounts of calories/macros each day while keeping the yummy/junky stuff to a minimum?
Am I always motivated to fall out of bed, sit at my desk and publish posts and courses every morning?
But yet I do it anyway. Well, mostly 😊
How do I do it, you ask?
Do I have exceptional will power? Amazing genetics? A personal chef who cooks all of my meals for me? The perfect Instagram feed filled with the right combination of inspirational quotes?
What I have are habits I’ve built up over time that ensure I do what needs to be done regardless of whether I feel motivated to do it.
It’s just like brushing my teeth every night.
This isn’t something I’m ever motivated to do, but yet it gets done every single night without fail.
It’s completely on autopilot, and my feelings don’t play a role in whether or not I do it.
It doesn’t matter if I’m tired. Or busy. Or not in the mood.
It just gets done.
Working out and eating right are exactly the same.
Granted, it will take more time and effort to build these habits than it did to build the habit of brushing your teeth.
We’re comparing one small habit (brushing your teeth) with two really big habits (proper diet and exercise) which encompass dozens of smaller sub-habits.
But the underlying concept is still the same.
So if you can manage to brush your teeth every night, then guess what? You have what it takes to consistently stick to your diet and workout.
You just need to start approaching them the same way.
And the first step you need to take is to stop relying on motivation.
No matter how much you seek it out in an attempt to find new and better ways to “get motivated” and “feel motivated” and “stay motivated,” it will always fail you.
Instead, put that time and effort into building the habits that will allow you to do the important things even when you’re not feeling motivated to do them.
That’s going to be the key. The key to your success or lack thereof.
So… how do you build these habits?
Start by approaching each new habit one at a time instead of trying to do 100 new things all at once. 100 new things may be interesting for a while, but ultimately rarely works.
Instead, pick one thing you can start doing tomorrow that will help you reach your goals.
• Maybe that’s working out just once or twice per week?
• Maybe that’s eating more protein?
• Maybe that’s replacing that fizzy drink with water?
• Maybe that’s tracking your calories?
• Maybe that’s weighing yourself daily and tracking the weekly averages?
• Maybe that’s something else altogether.
Whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be perfect or even close to it. That will come later.
For now, just pick one thing and focus entirely on doing that one thing on a consistent basis for a few weeks.
Once you’ve successfully done that, repeat this process again with a second thing while keeping the first habit intact.
A few weeks later, add on a third thing.
This approach will allow you to gradually build a bunch of smaller habits that will eventually form the bigger habits you need to be successful.
This is the opposite of what most people do, which is jump right into doing EVERYTHING on Day 1 when they’re feeling that sudden burst of motivation, but then they inevitably fail to sustain it when that feeling of motivation disappears soon after.
This approach prevents you from being one of those people.
And more importantly, this approach builds momentum.
You have one thing on top of another thing on top of another thing… all moving you closer and closer towards your goals.
And once you’re building momentum towards your goals, three wonderful things happen:
1. It all becomes easier and easier for you to continue doing.
2. You become much less likely to ever stop, quit, or get off track.
3. You realise that motivation wasn’t the thing you needed.
For an extended dialogue on motivation, or for that matter anything health, fitness or wellness related, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat about it.
The important stuff stays. You can do this.