So I got inspired to write about motivation from reading some motivational quotes. You know the ones i’m talking about. You know, the posters you see all over Pinterest? These things:
Ok, ok. I had to find one that sounded extra cliche. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes these things are fun to read, but they do jack-all for actually giving you anything more than a temporary ego boost. Sometimes that’s exactly what you need in the moment, but it isn’t going to be the deciding factor on your success with your fitness.
Motivation Doesn’t Last
No matter how bad you want it to, motivation runs out eventually. It isn’t something that you can always rely on—despite many seeming to believe it’s all they need to achieve success. Motivation is a great tool for getting started with something, but it won’t help you see things through. Considering that, with most things in life, success is proportional to consistency—you need to be focusing on that.
“So, why do we run out of motivation?”
I’m sure you can find a lot of different answers to this question–but from a purely fitness perspective I think it starts to occur as your visible results start to taper off. Anyone who has trained for an extended period of time knows exactly what this looks like. At the beginning, everything is great! You’re feeling stronger and more fit every day, and it’s easy to notice change just by looking at the mirror. Seeing these results helps fuel your motivation, and it’s what keeps you coming back and sticking with it. This is all fine and dandy, until…..
The results stop coming.
What is this? You’ve been training for 6 months and you’ve witnessed yourself get stronger. You feel like a completely different person! But for the past month or so it seems like you aren’t really making progress anymore. The changes in the mirror are less apparent, and maybe you’ve noticed your strength gains are starting to taper—it’s definitely much harder now to add weight to the bar then it used to be. Welcome to the intermediate phase.
Now you’re left wondering how you’re going to keep this up.
This is where your resolve will be put to the test. Personally, I think your first few years lifting is what will make or break you! How you behave for the 6 month – 18 month period of your lifting career is what separates those who rise to the occasion from those who crash and burn. Ideally, you will have spent the beginning months of your fitness journey building your discipline, because this is what you’re going to rely on from here on out. Discipline is how you’re going to continue making progress and working towards the best version of yourself.
Discipline Is King
Discipline is what is going to keep you going to the gym even when it’s the last thing you want to do. Building discipline is so crucial because it’s your fail safe! Those who have ample discipline will continue to succeed while those who haven’t taken the time to develop it will falter. Even though i’m talking about it like it’s something you “have” or “don’t have”, it’s definitely a lot more complicated then that. Maintaining discipline is something you ALWAYS have to work on!
“How do you build your discipline, then?”
Great question. I believe discipline is built through forming good habits. The way I see it—the more good habits you have, the higher your level of discipline is. I know that seems a little vague, but it makes gaining discipline fairly simple at face value. Build more good habits! Your habits don’t have to be exercise specific, either. ANY good habits you form will contribute to your level of discipline. For example:
- Studying for 30 minutes when you wake up, before work or school
- Practicing an instrument every day for a period of time
- Brushing and flossing your teeth every night before bed (Assuming you want to keep your teeth)
The key to forming these good habits is consistency.
To form a habit (or rather, to make it something that you do without really thinking about it), you need to consistently do that thing until it becomes second nature! I’ve seen a lot of people fall into the trap of trying to do it all. Does THIS girl look happy?
No, no she doesn’t. It’s probably because she has grown at least 3 mutant arms, but that’s beside the point. Stop trying to do a million things at once! I’m sure you know exactly how this goes. The weekend is ending and you’re thinking to yourself “Ok, i’m gonna CRUSH it this week. I’ll make a plan and do X,Y, and Z perfectly”. DON’T DO THIS! You’re just setting yourself up for failure if you do.
Form Those Habits!
You’ve heard it a million times: start small. Seriously. Do it. If you’re anything like me, get over your perfectionism and realize you can’t do everything at once. Pick ONE thing you CAN do, and do that. Once you don’t need to think about doing it, move on to the next thing! You are effectively the sum total of your habits, so the more good ones and the less bad ones you have, the better off you’re going to be.
Start small, and gradually increase what you do over time. Think about it this way—you didn’t start squatting 300 pounds your first day in the gym. Or, maybe you did, and got a quick trip to snap city. For example, if 30 minutes of studying sounds hard, start with 5. ANYONE can study for 5 minutes. Next week increase it to 10. So on and so forth.
“Easier said than done, friend.”
Alright, that’s fair. The key to getting it done is……balance! Allowing yourself time to decompress, eat the foods you love, and just veg out. Doing nothing once in a while isn’t a problem, in fact, i’d argue that it’s good for you! Doing nothing consistently is a problem. Starting to see the trend here? Nurture your good habits, and keep your bad ones in check. If you can do this over a long enough period of time, you’ll start noticing how much you’re growing as a person.
I hope you find this helpful. Personally, I’ve struggled with motivation and discipline for a long time, and these are some things I wish I would’ve known when I was just starting out. The most effective thing you can do for ensuring the longevity of your personal progress is not letting your failures define you! Pick yourself back up, and try and try again. If you do it long enough, you’ll sit on the iron throne eventually.