LOST: MOTIVATION. IF FOUND, PLEASE RETURN.
It’s 5:45 AM, your alarm goes off and you’re faced with probably the toughest decision you’ll make all day: snooze or get out of bed. You wonder how to find motivation, and get up out of bed.
The achiever in you wants to get out of bed, flip the laundry on, take the dog for a walk, have a fast shower, slam a protein shake, give the house a quick once-over with the vacuum and be at the gym by 6:15 but your sheets beg you to stay.
Somewhere between “five more minutes and “daylight is burning” there’s a catalyst that tosses the sheets aside; we call it motivation. Some days we’re incredibly motivated. Other days, we’d rather sit on the couch watching daytime reruns instead of doing anything productive, so let’s talk about a few ways how to find motivation when things get tough.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
First off, set realistic goals – this is a great way on how to find motivation. Now, break those goals down into bite-sized chunks that are easier to swallow. Instead of setting a goal of gaining 10 pounds of muscle, break that goal up into weekly goals of hitting your macros every day. If you want to drop 20 pounds, set weekly, achievable goals of 1-2 pounds each week.
Goals are easier to achieve when they’re smaller, and you’ll also reap the mental reward of crushing a whole bunch of smaller goals. Win-win. And then win again, when you hit your bigger goal. Setting larger long-term goals without realistic achievable goals will burn you out.
DON’T DO IT ALONE
They say it takes a village – and making life changing goals and finding out how to find motivation is now different. Friends, family, coworkers… whoever it might be, enrolling someone to complete your goal with you gives you a little extra motivation and can keep you on track. It’s a lot harder to hit the sofa after work when you know your gym buddy will be waiting to hit weights with you at the gym. Plus, it’s nice to have a partner in crime when you’re in the trenches of any goal, whether it’s an early morning workout or not.
Connect with your friends through your FitBit or AppleWatch, virtual motivation and support can be just as important as in person support.
Can’t find someone to go paleo with you? No problem. Just letting your friends know about your goal can be enough to keep you on track. It’s easy to fall off the wagon when you’re the only one who knows about your goal because letting yourself down is a lot easier than letting your friends or family down. Plus, who’s going to know if you don’t tell anyone? So, take your goal and motivation public. Share it on social media, tell your best friend, text it to your mom; whatever works for you.
Getting down on yourself when you don’t hit your goals, or you feel like you aren’t making progress won’t help. In fact, it will often work the opposite way. Many people get into a slump for something small like not eating well at lunch, so they let it all go and eat garbage for the rest of the day because “they already screwed up.” Flip your negative thoughts to positive ones. Didn’t have the best lunch? It’s all good; you’re going to have a dinner so healthy Popeye would be jealous.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with giving yourself a reward when you hit your goal, and it gives you something to think about when you’re in the thick. Really want that chocolate chip cookie? Sure. If you hit your macros every day, have it on Saturday. Got your eye on a new pair of shoes? Only if you make it to spin class 3 times a week for two weeks. Ready to take that trip to Costa Rica? Only if you can cut your 10k run time by a minute. The bigger your goals get, the bigger your rewards can be. That way, you’ll have something to keep you on track.
When it seems like your goals are a million miles away, and you are going nowhere fast, divert your attention to one of these strategies. You’ll stay on track, and you’ll thank yourself for it.
SET ONE GOAL
Rather than setting multiple goals, set one. While wanting to drop 20 lbs, setting a personal best bench press and not eating potato chips might all seem like a great lifestyle change – it is putting a lot of pressure on you.
Pick one goal, set reasonable and realistic milestones and achievements. Once you’ve dropped your desired 20 lbs, set a new goal to work towards setting a personal best bench press. When you’ve knocked that goal out of the park you can tackle the next goal. Finding out what you thrive on is a great way on how to find motivation that works for you!
DO IT DAILY
Even if your goal doesn’t take a daily activity – set time aside each day to think, plan, visualize or action towards your goal. Even taking 5 minutes from your schedule each day will help. Talk to family, friends or coworkers about your progress. Post on social media. Plan your schedule for tomorrow so that you have time to meal prep or get to the gym.
It might sound harsh, but simply forcing yourself to do it can be all the difference. Take that first step. Do that first rep. Run that first mile. Just starting is a great way to teach yourself how to find motivation.
For some people this can mean joining clubs or hanging around like minded people. Perhaps posting a motivational meme on your refrigerator door every day will help you get over that hump and open the door on how to find motivation and take action.
If you have lost motivation with exercising, try going to new fitness classes, join a bootcamp, watch fitness videos, or get a personal trainer.
TRACK YOUR GOALS
Writing things down is a great way to reinforce to our subconscious what it is you want to do. Tracking your progress to your overall goal as well as the milestones along the way is another way to train your subconscious.
There are many ways to track – from a simple calendar on the wall that you write a big ☺ on the days you hit the gym, or using technology like Apple Watch or FitBit to track your activity, workouts, movement …etc.
Each method of tracking has different benefits. Using technology often allows you to have your goal and progress always with you and easily accessible. Writing your progress down on paper and posting it, can help the tactile and creative/visual side of our brain – letting it sink into the subconscious better.
PREDETERMINE YOUR MOOD
“There is a direct correlation between an increased sphere of comfort and getting what you want.” – Timothy Ferriss
Look around, yes right now. Does your surroundings inspire you? Are things a mess? Does your work space, office space or workout space motivate you? Is it noisy? To quiet?
You do not want to distract yourself on how to how to find motivation and working towards your goals – but taking a short time to organize the space around you can help set your mood. Don’t go overboard and start an entire project to redecorate your home – which will keep you from your goals.
Make small meaningful change in your surroundings to brighten, lighten and motivate yourself.
DON’T OVER DO IT
Don’t try to paddle upstream. That’s just basically going everyday saying to yourself that you need to force yourself to work every day. Instead, paddle along the stream of the river. Trust yourself, let your environment work in your favor, and spend some a little bit of time putting yourself in a state before you work. Inspiration will come to you from different ways – inside and out – and give you the motivation to guide yourself towards reaching your dreams.
PUMP UP THE TUNES
Music is a great way to motivate, energize and make you take action. Let’s face it, music brings back memories, emotion and can get your foot tapping in the worst of moods.
Prepare a new playlist with some awesome upbeat music to boost your motivation. Add music that makes you smile, that makes you want to dance.
There are many music streaming services that will have instant playlists available to you. Apple Music, Spotify and SoundCloud are just a few services that can get you moving in just a few clicks of the mouse or taps on your mobile device.
HAVE A SNACK
When you run low on fuel, the extra energy demands of exercise lead your body to decide. Being hungry can cause your body to conserve some fuel by slowing down her metabolism. That’s the last thing you want, so have a protein-and-complex-carbohydrate snack, like a hard-boiled egg and a slice of whole wheat toast, 2 hours before you plan to work out.
PUMP THE IRON
Iron is essential mineral that helps convert food to energy, it is essential to keeping energy levels high. But dieting, avoiding meat, and having heavy menstrual periods can put you at risk for low iron. Iron supplements are sometimes risky, so make sure your diet includes 18mg of iron every day – choose lean meats or legumes, leafy greens, and whole grains. Don’t forget citrus fruit and other juice with vitamin C, which improves iron absorption from plant foods.
Dehydration can seriously drag your energy down. Research shows that even when you drink eight glasses of water a day, 45 minutes of exercise can put you into a dehydrated state. Don’t rely on thirst as a measure of need—to prevent exercise fatigue, take a sip of water every 15 to 20 minutes while you work out.
Take the stairs, park the car in the farthest parking stall at the mall. Park around the corner at home and walk the last block. Little things can add up to not only burning more calories – but the new energy will spill into other aspects of life.
LEARN AND ADJUST
Injuries are our body’s way of telling us we’re doing something wrong—and better to learn your mistakes sooner rather than later. Trying other activities will challenge and shock your body, and you’ll get faster results.
GET MORE SLEEP
Go to bed at the same time every night. Get up at the same time every morning. Sleeping in 3 hours later on a Saturday and a Sunday will only make getting up Monday morning even harder.
Studies have shown that sleeping 8 hours and 15 minutes compared to sleeping 7 hours and 45 minutes will result in waking up feeling completely rested by as much as 32%. It’s only an extra 30 minutes, but it can help you start your day energized and rested.
Turn off distractions at bed time. Don’t check your phone right before bed. Health research suggest that a great dip in sleeping hear rate may be better for both your overall and cardiovascular health. Creating a calm, quiet, cool place to rest – without TV’s, phone and other distractions will help.
SIGN A CONTRACT
We can make promises to ourselves all day long, but research shows we’re more likely to follow through with pledges when we make them in front of friends.
You can up the ante even more by signing a contract agreeing to pay a pal $20 every time you skip Pilates. If you say, “I’m going to make a commitment to do something for a certain amount of time”, such as exercising 30 minutes three times a week for 12 weeks. If you don’t do that, pay some kind of penalty, whether it’s monetary or the embarrassment of having friends know I didn’t live up to my word.
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