Some small things to magnify the amount of motivation that you have available
Motivation to make progress in our life is a constant struggle. We are always looking for the quick fix or the the easiest option because we want to see progress right away without a lot of work put in.
The problem is, if something comes quick and easy it will most likely leave quick and easy as well.
So, how do you find the motivation to reach your fitness, weight, or life goals in a way that your gains won't vanish like smoke in a month or two?
Here are a few things that you can do to create and magnify motivation as you work toward your goals.
Set Goals That Motivate
Goals Don't Work!
That is what most of you are saying in your head, right now. You are right, the way most people set and use goals, doesn't work.
For a goal to motivate it has to check a couple of boxes.
- The Goal has to have a clear finish line - You must be able to see the end
- The Goal has to be lofty but do-able - Too easy and it won't feel good to complete. Too hard and you won't be able to see yourself completing it.
- The Goal must Always be on your mind - It has to make you want to work toward it when you are bored and/or tired.
We get a little more specific in "Goals That Motivate", but if your goal checks these boxes you will gain motivation from it.
A Clear Finish Line
To have a clear finish line you need to be able to say exactly what it means to reach the goal. Vagueness is not your friend here.
"I will be able to snowboard down Flintlock Extension at Gunstock Mountain without falling by the end of the snowboard season."
If your goal is like the one above, you will have no problem knowing if you completed your goal or not. An easy yes or no question will tell all. Did you ride the trail without falling before the deadline? Goal achieved
Lofty But Do-Able
Self talk matters. You have to believe your goal is possible or you will talk yourself out of every bit of progress you could have made towards it. You can read "Talk To Yourself" for more.
This one is a moving line because as you improve your motivation and confidence the do-able mark will get farther away from your starting point.
Always On Your Mind
The best way to ensure a goal is always on your mind is to write it down and put it somewhere you see regularly. Even better if it is somewhere that will interrupt an obstacle that is getting in your way.
- Does your goal involve eating in a more healthy way? Put your goal on the fridge or the bag of chips.
- Does your goal involve being more active? Put it on the computer or TV
A good goal that checks the boxes Will magnify motivation.
Outcome AND Process
You have to have an outcome goal and a process goal.
Together these two types of goals get you that motivation we all need. An outcome goal acts as your finish line while the process goals are a clear path to follow.
A good outcome goal is like the one above, the trail at Gunstock one. This gives me a finish line that is clear, it can motivate me, and sets a deadline. The problem is that I may not be sure how I will get there, especially when my motivation is low or I am tired.
This is where the process goal comes in. My process goal may start with "I will take a lesson and leave with 2 or 3 drills I can practice to get me ready." From there it could be something like "I will practice those drills at least once per week."
Together these 2 types of goals are powerful!
You probably already get the point but I have to drive home a little more. One of these types of goals will work, you will see progress by just using one, but you will find some hurtles in the way.
If you only have an outcome goal you get the problem I stated above, when you are tired, and overwhelmed you won't know what to do. You won't know the next step to take and that can crush all your momentum and motivation.
Just setting a process goal has a similar problem. These goals are generally evolving things, once the level you set for yourself gets easier you step it up in some way and without the finish line to guide you it is easy to get lost. the third or fourth time you update your goal you may find yourself heading to the wrong outcome.
Outcome and process goals need each other so use them both!
Commit To A Little
Taking On Too Much Just Overwhelms Us
When you set a big goal you will realize that it will take a lot of big changes to achieve. This is terrifying, until you break it up into pieces.
Do not force yourself to commit to everything at once. This is almost a guaranteed way to never reach your goal.
To maintain or magnify your motivation, you have to commit to a little at a time.
Just the warm up section of your workout. Waiting 10 minutes before you eat the ice cream you are craving. Or, committing to a short amount of time to work on a big project are a few ways this can be done.
Exceed Your Commitments
Just committing to a little is not enough to make real progress. That is why you have to be willing to exceed those commitments.
If you are feeling good after the warm up, finish the workout. Did your 10 minute wait make you realize that you didn't actually want ice cream? Don't eat it and go for a walk instead. That short amount of time on the big project let you find your flow and now you don't want to stop. Whoop! Whoop!
It is ok to stop after your small commitment but it is also ok to keep going. The point is to get you started.
You will find that after you get started it is easy to find the motivation to keep going......usually.
Progress Is Motivating
Few things can magnify motivation like progress.
We all love crossing things off the To-Do list, seeing the finished project, or looking back at how far we have come. But, you only get that feeling if you actually do it.
How many things have you "always wanted to do"? How long have you wanted to learn to cook, play an instrument, go to another country, or get fit and active?
These are all just words, until you execute on them. It doesn't matter how many times you say "I wish I could....", it only matters what you make time for.
There Will Always Be A Reason To Wait. ALWAYS
If you are waiting for the perfect time to start to get fit and active, you should resign yourself to never being fit or active.
The perfect time will never come, I'm sorry.
You have to look for reasons to start. After you start, the progress will come. With progress comes motivation to continue. Watch this RFT for more on "Reasons To Start".
Forgive Your Failures
Eventually, You Will Lack Motivation
You will skip a workout. Eat too much of something that tastes too good. Have an off day and not be able to perform at the level you expect of yourself.
These things happen because you are not perfect. You are human and, as humans, we fail. Sometimes a lot.
To get your motivation back after one these horrible events, you will have to forgive yourself for that failure.
The way I see it, perfection is something that should always be strived for and never achieved. Ever.
Failure Is Important
In a book that I have enjoyed quite a lot, there is a quote.
"Failure is the mark of a life well lived" - Wit from Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
When you first read this you might think it is crazy, but take a second and think about it. To fail, you had to try. So, never failing is the same as never trying.
Now look back at something you are proud of. A meal that came out perfectly for friends and family. The better way you came up with at work that saves everyone time and money. Even the video game you beat.
How many times did you mess up to get there? How many times did you have to get it the wrong way before the better way appeared? How many times did you fail to get that good feeling?
I bet if you are truthful with yourself, you are most proud of the thing that you failed at most before you succeeded.
Failure is not the horrible thing we make it out to be because of how bad it feels in the moment. It is the best teacher. It shows us what we really want. Failure is important because, to paraphrase a familiar saying, "anything worth doing is worth failing at first".
Keep the motivation high, forgive yourself when you fail and do better tomorrow.
Magnifying motivation is difficult because motivation is hard to find from the beginning.
- We have to set goals that will motivate us.
- Use both Outcome and Process goals
- Committing to too much will overwhelm us so we commit to a little at time.
- Remember that progress is motivating and you have to do something to gain something.
- Failures will happen so forgive them.
Goals like being fit and active are not easy to reach. They take time and motivation always feels like it is slipping out beneath our feet.
Use these tips to help magnify the amount of motivation you have to get the job done.