“I can’t do this anymore. I need motivation. And I’ve tried everything.”
Sounds familiar? I bet it does. It happens to all of us. One day we’re pumped up with all the motivation in the world and the next day we just feel like it’s not worth it anymore.
It could be anything, fitness or otherwise. In doing anything new, we rely on our motivation to get started. But what if we can’t seem to find it anywhere, despite sitting ourselves down and trying? And what if we found the motivation to get started, but when something bad happens, we lose them all and then we’re back to square one?
If you’re struggling in finding your motivation to start or keeping up with the motivation when times get tough then brace up. Because this post will be all about motivation as I share with your four secrets you can start using today to achieve all your goals.
FIND YOUR REASON. YOUR DEEPEST REASON
Before you even start doing anything, ask yourself this question — “Why are you doing this?”. Done? Great. Now ask yourself this — “Why are you REALLY doing this?”
Finding your deepest, most inner reason can help you get going, when the going gets tough. Let me explain how.
When I first decided to lose weight four years ago, I failed miserably the first time because I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was doing it for the way I look. I didn’t like how huge I was and it was hard for me to love the body I was in, being obese. As a result, I turned to diet pills and shakes because I know and I’ve heard that they work, and they work quickly.
Doing that just resulted me in putting on more weight than I have initially lost and left me even more depressed than when I initially started.
But I didn’t quit. I failed, and then I had to start again in the beginning with more weight to lose. What kept me going?
Somewhere a couple of months later, I found my deep motivation, and that was I simply felt unhealthy. It was a simple enough reason, yet extremely powerful because finding a reason from the inside allowed me to get rid of all the external reasons.
I couldn’t accept the fact that I was only 21, and yet I fall sick every single month. I couldn’t accept the fact that I feel tired so easily and even doing simple tasks like taking the stairs seemed like a chore.
That was what got me through.
If you’re struggling in the gym, look for your deep reason. As far as I know, looking great and fitting into a nice dress is not a deep one. It’s external and it doesn’t last. Find it deep in you and you can achieve anything you want.
FEEL FREE TO QUIT. BUT QUIT TOMORROW
You’re tired and want to skip tonight’s session? You want to open up that bag of chips? Sure you can. But do it tomorrow. Finish what you’re suppose to do today. Eat what you have planned to eat today. And tomorrow, you can skip the workout and have that bag of chips in one sitting.
In fact, this is one thing I always advise my clients. If they want to quit, do it. But do it tomorrow. And it works.
When you’re trying to lose weight, or even pick up any new goals, it is tempting to tell yourself this:
– It’s too cold this morning. I’d rather sleep in.
– It’s fine, I’ll just miss this workout.
– I can take a rest day today and start again tomorrow.
And of course, it is tempting to tell yourself that it is not worth it and nothing in this world is worth this amount of pain just to get to where you want to be.
So what’s my secret of getting through it?
I promised myself not to quit in the middle of my workout, and that if I wanted to stop, I’ll finish this one and stop tomorrow. I promised myself this luxury of quitting, which was clearly dangling in front of me, will come. Except that it will come a little later.
Of course, at the end of the workout, I’d look back and realise that it wasn’t so bad after all — and ultimately I felt great for not quitting halfway.
Not quitting then has brought me to where I am now.
So how do this apply to your own commitment in health and fitness?
Here’s the thing. Many of our daily, small decisions made are a result of our emotional state at that point in time.
Let’s put this into perspective. Say for example there was a position you really wanted to get at work. It’s a good opportunity, you have lots of experience and you will get a raise for taking up the new role. But in order for you to have a shot at it, you have to go through a fairly rigorous selection process. There is only one position, but you, along with several of your other colleagues are fighting for it.
After so many weeks of assessments and interviews, you got the job. You earned the position and you’re beaming with glee the whole day. Coincidentally, you’ve made plans that night to see your mother-in-law. Because of the excitement in getting the new position, you stopped by the flower kiosk to get her a big bunch of flowers, instead of going straight to her place.
Sounds real isn’t it? Now from then on, whether you intent to or not, you will stop by the flower kiosk to get her flowers every time you go to her place. Ultimately, it becomes a habit and a good one indeed. That one moment when you were happy resulted in your decisions to get her flowers every time you visit her because you know it makes you look good.
In other words, you’ve used your previous actions as a template for what you should do next, whether you consciously intend to or not.
Now that seems all good. But what if your way of celebrating success is to head to the bar with your mates and buying everyone a couple of drinks before you head over to your mother-in-law’s?
Or on the other hand, what if you didn’t get the position? What if someone else did? Would you go straight to the bar and order chicken parmigiana and a few jugs of beer, along with a cheesecake for dessert?
This theory is in fact real and it’s called self-herding, discovered by Dan Ariely in his book called The Upside of Irrationality, which is in my opinion an excellent read. “Herding” is what happens when we follow what others are doing. “Self-Herding” happens when we allow our own previous actions to govern our current behaviour.
That said, self-herding can turn you into the kind of person who brings flowers to your mother-in-law or someone who gets a workout in every day — or the kind who drinks too much and eats for comfort.
That is why the small, daily decisions we make in that moment in time have a big impact to what kind of a person we become. And that is why too, it is very important to stop and think before we act so we can use the power of self-herding to work for us, not against us. Just like how we can train our mind to finish up what we’re doing now and only quit tomorrow.
NEWS FLASH: If you’re trying to lose weight or pick up a new habit, there will be some sucky moments. As long as your body is going through a series of changes, you will feel like giving up, and this will naturally happen until you adapt. You WILL feel like it’s easier to just grab a bag of Oreos after a long day at work and skip dinner and there will be days where you can’t even drag yourself out to the gym.
You may even tell yourself — just one won’t kill. Or skipping that leg day is fine. It’s just one day. But just like the theory of self-herding, this one decision you make won’t stand on it’s own. The choice you make today have the power to lay the groundwork for all the choices you’ll make tomorrow. You are the sum of all your habits.
My advice? Quit tomorrow.
Get your shoes on for the run today. Skip the bag of Oreos tonight. And if you feel like it tomorrow, you can have them.
But I bet my bottom dollar that when tomorrow comes, you won’t have the urge to quit anymore. You’ll feel more empowered by the decision you made today. You’ll feel healthier, lighter and fresher and the best thing? You’re one step closer to achieving your goals.
BE THE MASTER OF YOUR FEARS
You’re not alone if you’re afraid of failure. Most of us tremble when we think about what can potentially happen if we do some risky. But the thing is, the only real failure is not to try.
When I left my job at the travel agency some six months ago, I was so afraid of just about everything in this world. I delayed my resignation because I was constantly planning the things I can do with Pretty Awesome Fitness. Planning, and not doing. I had a million and one ‘what ifs’. I just couldn’t make myself leave, partly because I was afraid my idea won’t work and also because I needed money to sustain myself.
If I were to stay on then, I would probably still be planning a family of four trip to Hawaii right now. But because I took the risky leap, I couldn’t be more happier doing things I truly love in health and fitness and that includes talking and reaching out to you, my Pretty Awesomes.
So what made me finally leave the job, despite my fears at that time?
Words of wisdom from the people that mattered, most importantly from my family and an old lady, Mrs. Chan, that walked into my office a week before I left the job.
“If you feel like it’s the right thing for you to do, go for it. Don’t worry about money.” My parents said.
“You would probably feel like this is the worse decision you’ve made ever, right now, but you’ll get through them. You’ll look back in a few years time, successful doing things you love and then you’ll realise that t it wasn’t so bad after all.” My sister said. (She’s awesome, I know. And she’s only 21.)
“You might not know at this point in time if this is the right thing you’re doing. You might fail. You might be disappointed you left a good-paying job. But a good-paying job is nothing if you’re not happy.” Mrs. Chan said. (If you haven’t read my guest post on Tiny Buddha, you should.)
And if there was one thing that truly allowed me to conquer my fears was this beautiful words — “And if life hits you hard one day, remember you made the effort to pursue your dreams. You made memories. And you chased after what you loved the most. You will be okay.”
They were all right. It would be hard. It would even mean I have to tighten up my belt when it comes to my daily expenditure for a little bit. But it would end. That knowledge I attained from those people who cared made me feel unbeatable. I will hit rock bottom over and over again.
What matters is I get through them and focus my energy on getting things done. That is all.
When it comes to your health and fitness goals, ask yourself this — “What if that perfect moment is right now? That you just dove in and start changing your habits, one step at a time?”
I know it’s easier to wait for the perfect moment, you know, when you feel a little more ready. Or you’re probably waiting for Monday. But here’s the thing, you will never feel ready, and when Monday comes, your mind will come up with other set of rationalizations and it goes in a cycle that doesn’t end.
If you really want something so bad, you can and you will find it. Pain and fear will be irrelevant. And remember this, the only real failure is to not try. So what are you waiting for?
FIND YOUR MEANING
If there was one most important secret I can share with you in finding your motivation is this — find passion. Your personal reason for being will get you through the toughest of all times. I mean it.
Have you heard of Blue Zones? If you haven’t don’t worry. I only recently stumbled upon Blue Zones when I was listening to a 2009 TED talk by explorer, athlete and educator, Dan Buettner.
Blue Zones are simply areas of the world where the habitants live long healthy lives, and one Blue Zone area where their people have the longest and healthiest life expectancy is in Okinawa, Japan. Men and women have life expectancies exceeding 100 years. They have the strength and energy to run around with their grandchildren and their rates of disease is much lower than the rest of the world.
Interestingly, the Okinawans do not have a word for retirement like the rest of us. They have instead a thing called ikagai, which in translation means passion. What’s even more interesting? Dan and his team asked these bunch of Okinawans to identify their ikagai and all of them answered without hesitation.
For a 100-year old fisherman, their ikagai is to come home with fish for his family.
A 102-year old woman identifies her reason for living as spending time with her great grandchildren.
I was completely strung out when I learned about this, which made me ponder upon my own ikagai. What is my purpose in life? And then I know instantly that my real reason for being in my career will definitely be my passion in helping others in fitness. It is the one lone reason that allowed me to still do what I am doing today even though some days I fall completely out of motivation.
There will be times when I don’t feel like writing and there will be times when it’s so much harder to motivate clients to keep them going. But my reason for being kept me holding on. And that is why I’m still here writing a 3000-word post to help you find you motivation.
Finding our passion and doing things we truly love can help us maintain our motivation even during the toughest time. Putting it into perspective, if you’re training hard for say a half-marathon, and you really truly enjoy running, you will do it. You will make sure you don’t miss a single training session because you’re enjoying the process.
Your meaning, your reason for living and your passion can be anything. It could be your family. Or your three year old son, whom you still want to be there for when he turns thirty. It doesn’t even need to be a person, it just simply needs to be a reason to give you the courage to persevere, when all you really want to do is quit.
That’s the true secret of motivation.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
I know, I write long posts. I enjoy them and I hope you do too. I especially hope that you can take something out of the last five minutes you spent reading, instead of just closing this window and moving on to whatever you were doing. That is why with long posts, it is imperative for you to take action.
In summary, here are four things you can do today to find your motivation and keep at it when the going gets tough.
1. Find your most deepest reason. Something that lies within you, not something external. You can find the whys behind the whats you are doing if it is important enough to you.
2. Feel free to quit, but quit tomorrow. Finish up what you have planned to do today. Promise yourself to finish up that tough workout, or get through your Masters degree. And then once you’re done, you can quit. Chances are, you’ll be a million times more empowered to not quit the next day and this can help you get to your goals.
3. Be the master of your fears. Face them. Learn to handle them and conquer it. The perfect moment is now and the only real failure is to not try.
4. Finally, and most importantly, find your ikagai. What’s your real purpose? What do you really love doing? Work it out and let it drive you through the toughest time.
HERE’S TO YOU…
What do you think? Pretty Awesome isn’t it? If there’s something similar about all these four secrets is that they all lie within you. You are the secret to finding your motivation and succeeding in everything you do.
Now tell me, what tips and advice do you personally do to find your motivation? How do you get through the toughest times? Share it with the rest of the community in the comments below. And if you wish, you may answer this one question:
What are you currently struggling with in terms of finding your motivation? Leave a comment and I will personally respond to you via the email address you enter (don’t worry, only I can see it, and I will be happy to help).
Remember, if you need any help in maintaining your motivation, you can check out the services I offer or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try my best to help you in any way I can.
Now go and have a pretty awesome motivating week! :) :)
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