Anyone who has spent five minutes with Jeff Giosi knows he is an incredible motivator. I am so fortunate to live with my own personal Tony Robbins and I, myself, love starting each day with motivational audio that I play on my way to work. I truly believe motivational speaking has it’s place and can be a wonderful tool.
What is motivation?
Motivation comes up a lot in the world of diet and exercise. I also hear it referenced often in my professional life, parenthood, housekeeping, spiritual life circles, etc.
Motivation is a noun. It is a person, place, or thing that sets you in motion. It’s what gets you going.
So what’s my beef?
Often I see, and sometimes personally experience, that we become so dependent on something or someone external to motivate us, that it becomes a pitfall. What we need to do is get ourselves past the point of needing motivation and to a place of causation.
Let me explain what I mean by that:
- Motivation is a great starting point, and this time of year is a wonderful example. At this point, the majority of people have already given up on their New Year resolutions. Something motivated them to start. Something made them decide to promise themselves that they’d lose weight, or hit the gym 5 times a week, or have less screen time, or get out of debt, or whatever their personal resolution may have been. BUT motivation only serves as the starting pistol to get the race going. We need more than motivation to keep running forward. This is a mindset shift. This is where basic motivation falls short.
- Motivation is a response. It is the reason you act or behave a certain way. – You gorged over the holidays and gained 15 pounds, then the new year came and you felt motivated to lose weight. “New year, new you!” But when the shininess of the new year rubs off, or when you don’t feel like cooking the first week back to work after the holidays, or when it’s a bitterly cold January morning so you don’t want to get up early to hit the gym, that lack of motivation becomes a justification. “I didn’t go to the gym because I just didn’t feel motivated.” “I’m just not motivated to cook tonight so let’s get fast food again.”
- Now instead of being an inspirational tool, motivation (or a lack thereof) has become an excuse. A reason why you didn’t do something as opposed to a reason to get moving.
How do we live with causation instead of motivation?
Again let me caveat, GET MOTIVATED! Listen to the speakers who rile you up, pin that vision board that helps you visualize success, read those biographies of the greats that have come before. Do it! But then create your plan for causation, so when those days pop up when you’re “just not feeling motivated” you can keep going. Don’t expect to “feel it” every day. Some days, it’s about what you do despite the fact you really aren’t feeling it. Here are some ways you can do that:
- Allow yourself to have low standard days. I had a difficult and long recovery after the birth of our second child. We had a number of complications and I struggled. I knew one of the things that would help me feel better would be going to the gym, but it was so hard some days. I hurt, everywhere. I felt fat and ugly. I was exhausted. So I made myself a deal. – I lowered my own standards. Instead of putting any type of pressure on myself for performance, I decided that I would count the day a success if I just changed into my workout clothes and drove to the gym. I didn’t have to lift a single weight or row a single calorie, I just had to change and show up. If I made it there and then decided to pull right back out of the parking lot before even going inside, fine. That would still count as a success. I took the pressure off. I mean, how hard is it to put on some sneakers and a sports bra? (Honestly, some days it felt very hard!) And once I was there, I never turned back. I always went in and did a workout. Sometimes I didn’t even break a sweat, but I did something. I wasn’t motivated but I stuck to my plan for causation.
- Pick one thing. Feeling unmotivated to clean your whole house? Fine. Just load the dishwasher. You don’t want to run a mile? Okay, stretch or hold some planks while watching Netflix at home. Pick one thing. When you have a good thing going, don’t ruin it. It can be so hard to get that streak of attending the gym every day. Yet somehow, it is so easy to skip one day and find yourself absent for months to come. What is that about? Perhaps in another post we can go through the psychology, but for now just remember to keep your momentum going. You don’t have to run a marathon. You don’t have to (and absolutely shouldn’t!) starve yourself for a week because you fell off the wagon over the weekend. Just pick one thing.
- Examine the root of your lack of motivation. This is where you have real talk with yourself. Does “I just don’t feel motivated” loosely translate to “I’m just being lazy.” or does it actually mean “I am exhausted and truly need a break.” Know your boundaries. Remember that you are more than what you get done. Sometimes you need to stop. You need to take a break. I don’t mean you should take 3 months off from the gym and I don’t mean you should grab fast food for dinner every weeknight. But when there is a night or a couple of days when you need to hit the hard reset, do it. We’re in this for the long-haul. Practice self-care and self-love.
- Make it personal. Listening to someone preach a motivational message can be a great wake up. But to stay awake, you need to find the thing that talks to you directly. I’d love to be altruistic here, but very few people are going to be constantly driven to be healthier for health sake. Honestly, the only time I’ve seen this is when they’ve already experienced, or watched a loved one experience, a personal health crisis. Otherwise, the fact is, wanting to look good in a bikini for your reunion beach trip is a motivation that sticks with you a little longer than wanting to maintain good blood pressure. Good blood pressure is extremely important, but it just isn’t sexy for most people. However, these “look great in a bikini” types of fleeting motivations can be challenging. The difficulty here is that they have an expiration date. Remember, it’s imperative to think big picture. For example, one of the reasons I constantly show up to the gym is because I want to make sure I don’t hold my family back. Jeff is an elite athlete. I waited until I was 32 to have our youngest child. When they are in high school and we take a family hike, I don’t want to be left in the dust. When they are old enough that they have families of their own, I want to be fit and energetic so I can live life with them and not be a burden or left alone. Are those sober thoughts and probably unfair (I mean, will my angel men really ditch me?) but they speak to my deepest fears and they motivate the crap out of me.
Motivation: The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
Causation: The action of causing something.
Take that motivation, soak it up, and then focus on your causation plan. Cause things to happen in your life, don’t wait until you feel like it. Sometimes you have to make that feeling. You can do it.