By definition motivation is the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
Sounds simple enough, but we all know that getting motivated and staying motivated, can be a huge pain in the ass. It doesn’t just happen, there is generally a catalyst that makes you say “this is no longer acceptable and I can do something about it”.
It can be the end of a relationship, an argument with a boss, an inspirational TED Talk, or the realization that your ass is overflowing onto the neighbouring bus seat. The point is, motivation is the first step on the journey to self improvement. At the end of the day I don’t think it matters what motivates you to take the path of self improvement, anything that inspires positive change is good thing.
I have recently made a huge shift in my life by adopting a vegan lifestyle and dragging my ass to the gym on a habitual basis (so many time that same ass is 50 pounds lighter) . I would share my own self improvement catalyst but unfortunately, I actually don’t remember what made me join a gym and get a personal trainer.
I think it was simply the fact that I am vain and love fashion and had finally had enough of not being able to wear the clothes I wanted because my size was not available or I didn’t have the confidence to pull off a crop top. Maybe it was deeper than that, I guess we will never know.
So instead I am going to share with you some of the ways I have kept and continue to keep myself motivated. Because staying motivated is what will ultimately help you reach your goals.
Action: Get Your Ass in Gear
Taking action and making a plan is ultimately what will drive you forward and turn what started as a small spark of motivation into a fire. Because I have tried and failed to do many things in the past, I broke down my goals into small daily actions that if completed so many times per week would help me reach my goal.
Let me break it down for you.
Goal: Make my ass smaller by June 2017
- Eat healthy (6 out of 7 days)
- Workout (5 out of 7 days)
- Read Books/Articles on Nutrition and Fitness (4 out of 7 days)
I imputed these goals into a great app called Momentum. This app helped me keep track of whether or not I was meeting my weekly goals. I found this helped because not only was I moving towards my main goal, I also felt accomplished by completing these daily actions even when I was not seeing any visible changes in my body. Whatever your goal is, it will take time to see results, so having smaller goals that help you recognize even your smaller achievements will keep you on the right path.
Habits: Everyday I’m Hustlin
You absolutely have to turn your actions into habits!
When I started going to the gym, there were many mornings where the little voice in my head was being an uncooperative asshole by telling me to stay in bed or go straight home after work. It is imperative that you tell that voice to fuck off and get out of your way! Even on the days when I won the battle with that little shit, I sometime got to the gym and did not work out to my full capacity. the point is I still went, I kept creating a habit! Now the times where I have to drag myself to the gym are few and far between. It may have taken a while to get there, but my actions turned into habits that have changed my life. I don’t think I could ever go back to how I was living before.
A model I have used for creating habits is referred to as the 3 R’s of Habit Change.
Reminder, Routine and Rewards.
My reminder was the app I referred to earlier in this post called Momentum. I set it up so it would remind me every morning to review my goals so I could plan my day and week accordingly.
This in turn helped set a routine. Although I hate having a strict monotonous schedule, I do set up all of my training days at the beginning of each week. Some things like my sessions with my trainer are always on the same day, but the other days I occasionally switch them up depending on my other plans or I try new workouts to keep things fresh. However, I never compromise on the amount of time I train. That my friends is non negotiable!
As for the reward, that part can be fun. In the beginning I would reward myself with a cheat meal on Saturdays, or a new workout outfit. Now I am at the point where I am seeing results, so my rewards come in the form of my clothes fitting better and comments on my progress from others. Compliments are wonderful and really make me want to keep going.
Goldilocks Rule: Don’t Get Ahead of Yourself
I know what your thinking, what the hell does a children’s tale about a little girl who jacks a baby bears porridge and breaks his chair despite her petit frame (I never thought that part was realistic) have to do with motivation?
The Goldilocks Rule states that humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are just on the edge of their abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right. (Like the porridge in the story, get it?)
It basically means that if you set your goals or actions to far from what you are currently capable of, you will kill your motivation.
I am never going to be society’s definition of thin. I know that and therefore do not set that goal. Also, I started off slow. I did not take classes that were far past my fitness level, nor did I set nutritional goals that would leave me feeling hungry and deprived.
I did things just outside where I was comfortable and keep pushing myself to more difficult fitness goals and stricter eating habits.
I can guarantee you that if I had gone vegan and trained at the level I do now when I started, I would not have lasted a month! Remember, it took time and a series of misguided choices to get yourself to wherever you are, it will take time and the same amount of choices to get you somewhere else!
I think this is perhaps more important than anything else I have spoken about and took me a while to realize the power of.
It is time to change your life script.
We all have an inner dialogue that can either help us or keep us down. Alfred Bester said it best “The mind is the reality. You are what you think”.
Instead of saying things like “ I am overweight and lazy” say “I love my body and working out is fun”. Even though I had just started working out, I decided to begin referring to myself as someone who loved fitness. I am sure at the time people looked at me and thought “Really, are you sure? Maybe you are doing it wrong?”. I also decided to start labelling myself as Vegan even though I was only a few weeks in. Because I referred to myself as such I felt like I had a responsibility to live up to these labels and before I knew it they were true.
Getting motivated and even more so staying motivated is definitely a lot of work.
Ultimately though it is the first step in achieving success and that makes it worth it.
Believe me, it is such a good feeling when your ass finally fits snuggly into one bus seat.