What motivates you? Is it money, prestige, health or maybe the thought of a better tomorrow?
As humans, we all need something that keeps us putting one foot in front of the other. But what happens if there's nothing left that "lights the fire" to keep us moving forward? Let's look at three ways to revitalize your motivation.
Take the first step
Most people will never be 100% motivated 100% of the time. Sometimes it just seems too difficult to type that first word, lift that first weight or drive that first nail. But best-selling author of the book "Atomic Habits," James Clear, points out that the act of just getting started, itself, provides the momentum. Clear states, "Motivation is the result of action, not the cause of it."
And many will find that they can help themselves with getting started by actually "scheduling motivation." To schedule motivation you simply create a routine for specific tasks you hope to accomplish, such as weight training every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 6:30 to 7, or morning Pilates every day from 5 to 5:30. It sounds so simple, but by making an appointment with yourself, you greatly increase your likelihood of carrying through and moving into action regardless of your motivation level at the time. Then, once you are in motion, it is far easier to remain that way.
You have the power
Perception is a very important factor when it comes to motivation. Whether it is work, school or a goal such as weight loss, the perception of having no control ultimately leads to lack of motivation for many. How can you overcome this feeling? Shift your way of thinking and focus on what is called your internal locus of control.
In the 1950s psychologist Julian Rotter developed the concept of locus of control whereby individuals either believe or do not believe they are in control of their destiny. People who foster an internal locus of control perceive life events, both positive and negative, as a result of factors like attitude, preparation or effort, which can be controlled. Those prone to an external locus of control look at life events as though they cannot be altered by personal control and are therefore due to outside forces such as luck, fate or being at the mercy of other people.
Examples of external locus of control thinking include "I can't lose weight because my coworkers always want to eat fast food for lunch" or "I failed because my professor didn't prepare me well enough for the test." A shift to an internal locus of control would change the thought process to "If I want to lose weight I need to bring my lunch and eat at the office to avoid fast food" and "I should study more if I want to make better grades." Take action; change your perception of what you have control over. Believing you have the power to alter your life is a powerful motivator.
It's a group thing
It is all too easy to miss a workout, skip a class or put off work until tomorrow if you are relying solely on yourself. According to strength and conditioning coach Dan John, you will do better if you involve yourself in a group.
In his book "Can You Go?" John suggests becoming a part of an intentional community, or IC. What is an IC? An IC is basically a group of people who meet with a common objective.
Examples of ICs include Bible study, cooking or gardening clubs, or group exercise classes. This is a major reason why group exercise, whether for senior adults or CrossFit athletes, has grown in such popularity. The camaraderie of the group and the energy it brings make for a very motivating atmosphere. There is strength in numbers, and each individual adds something special and unique.
It's normal to lose motivation from time to time. But by scheduling the times you intend to do your important tasks, putting the locus of control around yourself and joining other like-minded people you can not only reignite your spark, but keep it burning!
Jeremy Walraven is a fitness consultant at Bradley Wellness Center.