Motivation. The word itself can bring up a lot of feelings. More often than not, I hear people lament that they lack the motivation they feel they need to meet their goals. Often times, we know what we want but have trouble staying motivated over time to meet those goals. Setbacks happen, we struggle, unexpected events impact us and we find ourselves feeling stuck and demotivated. It’s okay to feel demotivated at times, it’s normal and human. The question then becomes: how to you find your motivation again when you feel lost?
Know What Motivates You
There is no one size-fits-all solution to finding your motivation. Everyone is motivated by different things. What pushes and motivates me may be draining and demotivating to you and vice-versa. It’s important to get clear on what motivates you – what pushes you to keep going through difficult times.
I am able to stay pretty active, even as a full-time working mom, I get in some form of exercise or active recovery basically every day. I’ve managed to keep up this routine by learning what pushes me forward, even when times are tough. Some people are motivated by keeping up workout streaks (e.g. a 30 day push-up or squat challenge) and other people are motivated by having accountability groups to support them. Still others enjoy posting their workouts to social media and feel motivated by the encouragement of their friends. Over the years, I’ve tried all of these things and at times, they kept me going when I found my motivation low. These days, I’m motivated to keep up my routine by remembering 1) I know I feel happier and generally better when I stay active and 2) I enjoy the achievement of completing workout programs and events. Throughout the summer, I enjoyed completing virtual 5ks or mileage challenges and lately – especially with the poor air quality in my area – I’ve taken my training inside and started running through Darebee programs such as Spellbound and Epic Five. I’ve joked that I am motivated by “pixel awards” and it is actually very true; I love being able to add the little completion badges to my profile on Darebee. I’m about just about done with the Epic Five program and I’ve been completing it by squeezing in the five minute workouts as I can while working virtually. Over the years, I’ve learned that I’m not really motivated by workout “streaks” and so – rather than going through the program one day at a time as it was designed – I use the five minute workouts as a way to get in short intense bursts of exercise throughout my day. This approach is working great for me as a full-time telecommuter and I plan to complete my next program in a similar way… once I earn my pixel badge for finishing this one.
Getting clear on what motivates you is key to sticking to the habits that will enable your success and happiness. I’ve posted before about the importance of getting clear on the “why” behind your goals and, similarly, it’s important to understand and be honest about what really motivates you and what doesn’t. We live in a world full of people posting what worked for them as a solution for what will work for you. You can easily fall into confusion or even frustration as you try to stick with something that doesn’t actually motivate you.
It took me a bit of trial and error to figure out what really motivated me and what just didn’t work. I’ve done accountability groups, workout challenges and many other things but what really keeps me pushing towards my goals – both with fitness and otherwise – is the promise of the reward in the end. Even if it’s just a little badge made of pixels, I get a great sense of accomplishment knowing that I rose to the challenge. Don’t be afraid to try a variety of approaches to help find what works for you.
A few years ago, I joined a small daily gratitude group on social media. The idea was that we would post something we were grateful for every day for a year. I understand the benefits of gratitude, I wanted to build a habit of practicing gratitude and focusing on the positive aspects of my life but… that group just wasn’t for me. I found myself feeling something like “peer pressure” to post when I didn’t want to. Instead of helping me focus on the positive, I felt obligated to post and even found myself comparing my posts to others in the group. I ended up leaving the group after a few months, instead of trying to force myself to stay for the year. At the time, I did feel like a bit of a failure but I’ve come to realize that those types of groups just don’t help to motivate me. I now have a daily gratitude journaling practice as part of my Hero’s Journal. I’m a very social person but keeping my daily gratitude list to myself has been a better fit for me and allowed me stick with a habit that I’ve wanted to build. I’ve come to see that experience as a lesson in trying something that just didn’t work and continuing to search anyway.
Just because something works for others, that doesn’t mean it will work for you and what works great for you may not work for those you’re trying to coach or help. It’s important to remember that we all have different things that make us tick and help us push through difficulty. What may seem easy to one person is incredibly difficult for the next and what is inspiring to me may seem useless to you. That’s okay, life is all about learning and growing so that we can give back and share what we’ve learned in the hopes that it might help the next person who happens to be similar to us.
What motivates you? What helps you push through the challenges and reach your goals?