Do you ever find that getting up from your comfortable couch and going to the gym is extremely difficult?
If so, you are definitely not alone, even elite athletes struggle with this from time to time and these such experiences are usually blamed on “lack of motivation” …
But what is motivation, really?
Is it the driving force and reasoning behind all your actions?
or is there something more behind what drives us?
Let’s dive in…
So, What is Motivation?
Motivation is defined as the process that helps initiate, guide, and maintain goal-oriented behaviors. It is a strong force that causes you to act, whether it is as simple as getting a glass of water to reduce thirst or reading a book to gain knowledge.
Sounds simple enough right?
If motivation is lacking, you simply won’t have the urge to do the things you have to do. This may become a problem depending on the type of motivation you have.
Motivation is generally divided into two subtypes – External & Internal motivation.
External motivation is the most common type of motivation for most people and involves doing certain things or taking action for reasons OUTSIDE of yourself.
On the other hand, you have internal motivation, which is the realization that what you are doing and the actions you are taking are ultimately better for your OWN greater good.
An example of external motivation for instance is like setting out to get in shape to attract a new partner or impress an ex-boyfriend/ girlfriend or more simply doing a job because you are being paid for it. But, what if the ex doesn’t notice? or the boss didn’t pay? both are out of your control, and are the primary motivating factors to achieving what you set out to achieve.
This is why external motivation is usually less sustainable, we generally have far less control over it, and it’s likely that if those external factors change, so will the strength of motivation towards the original goal.
For this reason, it can be better to rely more on internal or intrinsic motivating factors, which revolve around things no one can ever take away from us. Putting some of the control over your motivation back in your hands.
Finding Your Inner Motivation
For some of us, finding an internal reason for motivation is difficult, and may even seem impossible…
This is where I’d like to suggest to you that you try to find your internal motivation in DISCIPLINE.
What does that mean exactly?..
As much as internal motivation is stronger and more sustainable, If you rely on motivation entirely, you are likely to run into some issues along the road.
You will have moments when you’re exhausted from a long day at work or are a little sore from the last workout. In this state of mind, it will be very easy for you to convince yourself to not show up, skip a workout or be slack with your nutrition, this is common and as I mentioned before, even elite athletes go through this all the time. The question is, what is it that makes them show up day after day week after week, and get the job done?
Establishing discipline. Because with true discipline, you will always do what it takes, whenever and under whatever circumstances, you will get it done.
Being disciplined in your actions will eventually form positive habits. These habits are the stepping stones, the building blocks that form the refined process that creates a path and pushes you towards achieving your goal.
It’s common to think we need the motivation to take action. But really, if we wait for motivation to show up we may never take that step forward.
It is discipline that drives action, consistent action that forms sustainable habits, and consistent execution of these habits that develop the process that creates progress, this is where we will find internal motivation.
This is not easy by any means, discipline is a skill that needs to be developed and refined. It’s not something people just have or inherit, it takes work, and you have to make the choice and stay committed.
The choice is yours, it always has been.
and speaking of choices, there are particular actions and habits that will have the greatest impact when it comes to your strength and fitness.
#1 Creating a sustainable, goal-driven nutrition plan
Your health is NOTHING without the nutrients it needs on a day-to-day basis.
You are responsible for giving your body those nutrients, through well-selected food sources.
It is highly recommended that you AVOID following trends and instead, apply principles in your nutrition plan.
For instance, if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t follow the keto diet, but rather create a caloric deficit.
Ultimately, the best nutrition plan is the one you can adhere to and sustain.
Do you feel good eating a lower carbohydrate diet? Fine, do it!
Do you feel okay with the carnivore diet and can stick to it long-term? Sure thing, go ahead.
Choose what you can stick to and make sure you are giving the body all the essential nutrients that it needs (proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals).
#2 Focus on the right things
The reason why many people lose motivation is that they focus on the wrong things when creating the processes needed to achieve their goals.
For instance, measuring your progress just based on your body weight is a very common mistake and is a sure-fire way to destroy your motivation early and may be the reason you stop altogether.
The weight scale is one of the most dangerous tools when beginning your fitness journey, and has the potential to ruin your day, making you feel like you are not progressing.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t track your weight, but while tracking your weight, make sure to also measure things like:
- Energy levels
- How you look
- How your clothes fit
- How you sleep
- Athletic performance
In doing all of this, you will find other aspects of your health and fitness progressing which will, in turn, increase your motivation for long-term success.
#3 Focus on Discipline
Most people view their strength, fitness, and performance goals as something with a start and end date, a destination to arrive at. This again is another common mistake.
The general idea here is that once you achieve your goal, you won’t have to do anything for the rest of your life to maintain it.
The harsh reality is that strength, fitness, and performance are never-ending pursuits, you can always improve and always get better assuming you are focusing on the right areas.
As mentioned training & nutrition are HABITS you should continue to develop to take care of your body, and increase the overall quality of your life and look great and feel strong in the process.
You should now be aware that we should not be waiting on motivation to do those things but instead, place value on these areas of your life, and develop sustainable habits by being disciplined and consistently taking action.
This is the best way to maximize long-term progress.
Putting it all Together
The use of external and internal motivation can be beneficial in achieving your goals but on the other hand, relying on this feeling can be dangerous and limit your long-term progress.
The intense feeling of a motivation spike that picks you up and forces you to move is like nothing else, but the main problem here is it’s not consistent, and for that reason, solely relying on motivation to show up when you need it means you are going to fall short eventually.
When it comes to setting training goals and working on your strength, performance, and overall health, finding inner motivation is key.
And the way we do this is through discipline.