It’s a simple fact of life that motivation ebbs and flows for all of us.
What drives you towards a goal, gets you up in the morning, keeps you determined to succeed no matter what, can abandon you from out of nowhere. Yesterday you were pumped and ready to put everything into this you could – and today – well, not so much.
Even the most committed fitness enthusiasts face roadblocks to staying motivated. Sometimes it can start with illness or an injury, the pressures of a hectic calendar, or feeling overwhelmed with what your week is offering up. Other times, you can hit a flat spot for no apparent reason. It happens. But you CAN do something about it to get your mojo back.
- Are you getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet? Those questions your mum asks are for a good reason: both provide energy, and energy fuels motivation. Five hours of sleep is not going to help you jump out of bed when the alarm goes off, and skipping meals or eating rubbish is going to put you in an afternoon slump. Think carefully about how you are treating that temple of yours, and it will repay you in kind.
- Remind yourself why you want this goal Building some fire in your belly helps keep you focused on your “destination”. Decide on a goal, write it down, and keep it somewhere prominent – on your bathroom mirror, your screen saver, your desk, or your calendar. You need to be in touch with that goal daily so it stays a high priority in your mind. Visualisation is a huge motivator, so it can really help to find an image that represents how you’ll feel when you reach your goal, and what it will mean to you.
- Find your support network Whether it’s family or friends or an online forum – find your supporters when time gets tough – and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Keep focused on your goal date Knowing you have an endpoint, a timeframe in which to ramp up your activity, should make it easier to tell yourself to stay on task for a little while longer. Be in the present moment so you’re not worrying about what lays ahead.
- Break your goal into smaller, easier, achievable chunks This helps build your confidence and allows you to plot your progress and see your cumulative successes. Sometimes the hurdle is just getting those runners on and getting out the front door. Don’t give yourself the opportunity to make excuses. Chunking your goals into smaller steps makes it easier to tick off your accomplishments. First, get out the door. Then, once you’ve hit the pavement, find your next small and easy goal – getting to the bend in the river, the 5 km mark, the first 20 minutes down.
- Reward Yourself With all those mini-goals, don’t forget to reward yourself along the way. And who doesn’t love being rewarded for their efforts? Coffee with friends and suddenly everything seems worth it.
- Focus on the benefits rather than the difficulties Give yourself a pep talk: stop focusing on how hard this is, and instead focus on the rewards you will reap. Visualise yourself achieving those goals. Think about what you’ve achieved so far – you can’t throw in the towel after all that great work to date.
- Pare back your “to do” list Choose one goal at a time, and give your energy to that. Give it time to become a habit. Perhaps that’s two weeks. Maybe it’s longer. Then, start on your next goal. One step at a time. One step in front of the other. That’s all it takes. Ditch some of the things that aren’t adding value to your goals (screen time, perhaps?).
- Find some external inspiration Read articles, success stories, biographies, blogs. Listen to music that inspires you. Be with people who motivate you. Find yourself some key words of wisdom that really resonate with you.
- Put yourself in someone else’s hands We’re all for taking responsibility for your own actions, but what we’re talking about here is the benefit of doing structured activities under the guidance of a professional. Someone who will push you a little further than you are likely to push yourself. Encourage you when you might be second-guessing yourself or giving yourself a hard time. An instructor who will adjust your form, so you get the most out of your workout. Who’ll hold you accountable for your scheduled workouts, and have a laugh with you to stop you from taking yourself too seriously.
- Recognise negative head chatter Monitor your self-talk. Is this what is causing your slump? Is it actually true what you are saying to yourself? Would you say that to a friend in a similar situation? Have you got things in perspective, or are you letting your emotions skew the way you are seeing the situation? Is there a more positive way to look at this? Is there something you could change about what you are feeling bad about? Tell yourself you can do this. Because of course, you can.
- It’s always more fun with friends Working out with others can be super motivating – besides holding you accountable, especially on a cold, wet morning, friends can offer encouragement and shared experiences.
- Play up – compliment your Pilates with cardio you find enjoyable. If you hate the treadmill, and it’s holding you back from getting to the gym, find something instead that feels more like fun than hard work: dancing, tennis, kayaking, cycling, hiking … the list is endless. Doing something you love is key.