Why does fitness motivation have to be so elusive? On Monday, you spent the entire workday fantasizing about your 6:00pm hot-yoga class. Then Thursday rolls around, and you’ve already given up on Friday’s run before your first bite of dinner.
Could we stick to our healthy eating and fitness routine if we understood motivation better?
Could you motivate yourself or an entire class of clients if you had the right motivational tools?
Are these rhetorical questions?
Yes, to all three.
And while there are more examples and psychology at play than we can share today (we’ll help you out with that in future articles), here are some key principles of motivation that will help you start to make sense of it all.
Motivation is POWERFUL
Motivation is not exclusively reserved for monumental achievements like climbing Mount Everest. Though one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, Alison Levine, used it to do just that…twice. The real power of motivation is to do small things, repeatedly. Psychologists also have a term for this: “Grit”.
Even Alison shared the same sentiments as she worked through the ‘Death Zone’ of the summit. It’s not just a clever name. This final 3,000 foot ascent on Everest is where your body starts shutting down and death is certain within just two days. Her approach to staying focused and motivated in this extreme environment? “Just get to the next rock”. Take a few steps at a time, accomplish that little goal, then use the satisfaction to do it again (for up to 16 hours)! Now that’s real grit.
Why? Because little changes add up to big things over time. It’s no different on Everest as it is for your weight loss goals.
When it comes to exercising, starting small pays off (see 2-minute rule by James Clear). It can only take a small inspirational quote to get you to jog around the block. However, you might need to watch two hours of Rudy to consider going to your first CrossFit class. Which do you think is easier? (and ends with fewer tears of joy)
Remember, the right motivation can spur action to do just about anything. However, the real power of motivation is to help us do small things on a regular basis.
Motivation is PERSONAL
I love Albert Einstein. Brilliant, daring, humble, and an all-time top 10 mustache (just edged out US President, William Taft). However, when I was about to compete against a silver medalist from the 2012 Olympics, the wisdom of good old Albert wasn’t working for me. I needed something relatable to my situation. Darrell Pace, Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt, Nadia Comaneci, Billy Mills. Courageous, inspiring, Olympic athletes.
Why? Motivation is personal. It’s based on your personal experiences, traits, and a lot of psychology. What works for you may seem cheesy to half your friends. What inspires your brother may not even garner a second glance in your Facebook feed. (I know this is the case when some GOtivation FB Posts get a whopping 2 ½ likes). In fact, one of our surveys found that 40% of respondents feel motivation is “too general”, “cheesy”, or “hard to find what’s relevant”.
So how do we get better at finding personalized motivation? In this outstanding article by Preston Ni (Psychology Today), there are a number of ways to discover what motivates you. One of my personal favorites of his is “Read or Watch Biographies of Inspiring, Creative People”. Another way? In our GOtivation Chatbot, we worked tirelessly with fitness trainers and psychology PhD’s to develop a profile builder: your fitness goals, your fitness motivation psychology, and other nerdy stuff. These questions are proven to identify what motivates you. Simply taking a few minutes to ponder these types of motivation questions is a helpful exercise.
Remember, if it’s not personal, it’s less effective. That’s why finding what motivates you or your members is something we recommend to everyone.
Motivation needs RECHARGING
“A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark” ~Dante Alighieri
“That’s great, as long as you don’t mind burning down when it’s over” ~me
We’ve all heard it: ‘A spark of imagination! Motivation lights a fire! Just need an ounce of inspiration!’ So, what happens when that spark runs out? We become one of 67% of people that never use their gym membership. We throw in the towel on our fad diets and go back to the comfortable confines of the couch.
This may be the most important part of motivation: We need it regularly. Let me say it another way:
Motivation is not a bolt of lightning — it’s a battery
All of us run out of energy and motivation. All of us stumble and fall. Most of you are balancing jobs, school, family, kids, and a dozen other responsibilities. Staying motivated to go running at 5am, eat a nutritious lunch, or dominate CrossFit after work will take a lot more than that one inspirational YouTube video you stumbled upon last October. That external motivation needs to be converted (so to speak) into internal drive. That’s your ‘battery’.
Our advice? Seek out regular motivation. Read, view, message, watch, like, swipe, or whatever other consumption style works for you. Keep your motivation battery regularly charged!
If we start to think about motivation in a slightly different light, I believe we all can find more success and happiness when it comes to fitness.
Three things to remember:
1. Motivation + small, repeated change = powerful
2. The more personalized the message the more meaningful the impact
3. Refill your motivational battery regularly