Most of the topics I write about tend to be on the scientific side of exercise – discussing different ways to improve an exercise or program to elicit greater results. As important as proper technique and programming is, it means very little without proper motivation. Few places is this more true than in exercise. Even with great programming and specific goals, no results will be seen without hard work and determination. Motivation is what gets you out of bed for that early morning run and allows you to push through those last few reps of a set. Ultimately, motivation is the deciding factor in the success of any venture in life, not the means in which a person uses to get there.
Stuck in a Rut
Back in my football days, motivation came in the form of playing time, individual/team success, and the fear of failure. The combination of these motivators made the idea of missing a workout nearly unimaginable. Things quickly changed following graduation. No longer were there consequences for missing a workout and the reward for completing a workout became fewer.
I fell into a training rut. While I continued to train fairly hard, results stopped coming. “Grown-up excuses” of work, fatigue, and nagging injuries started to creep in making it increasingly easier to skip workouts.
I had lost my drive to exercise.
I feel many people are in this same state. Even when they exercise regularly and eat fairly well, they simply cannot make progress. Or, they make great progress for 1-2 months, but then a vacation or a work deadline throws them off track, forcing them to start over.
These people have lost their driving force – the person/thing that got them started in the first place – and until they get it back they will continue spinning their wheels with little to no progress.
Finding what Motivates You
Everyone has something that motivates them. For some, it is their family or their faith. Others may be motivated by money or fame – but everyone has something. The key is to find a way to make these motivators relevant to what you are currently trying to accomplish.
A great way to keep what motivates you at the forefront is to set small goals with time restraints. Nothing is more motivational than a deadline. Actually, the deadline itself is not motivational, but the clear and present consequences of missing the deadline. These time restraints are what forces college students to stay up all night writing papers and dads to miss their son’s tee-ball game. Virtually everyone performs at their best with their back against the wall.
Imagine the results you would get if you treated every workout like your grade or job depended on it.
Staying on Track
Finding something to motivate you is the easy part, keeping it long enough to reach your goal is another story.
Setting small objective goals is the key to long term success. Your long term goal may seem like it is miles away, but by setting periodic bench marks throughout the process you will always have something in sight pushing you to move forward. Every single time you reach one of these milestones, you will feel a sense of accomplishment giving you enough fuel to reach your next short term goal. The combination of strong motivation and a well thought-out plan can make virtually any goal attainable.