When we think of motivation, quite often we think of it as something that we must have already or something that we find by luck. You might wish that you had more motivation, that you could dig deep to find motivation, or even think that you’re just “not a motivated person”. Other people who go to the gym and train regularly must be really motivated and have something that you don’t, right? They must just be that type of person.
Im just not a motivated person.
Nobody is motivated to do something they think they won’t enjoy, regardless of the benefits!
When most people talk about motivation they are referring to a positive feeling they get when they imagine an event e.g. “I am motivated to eat cake” meaning that when I picture myself eating cake, I feel excited.
So you ARE a motivated person, but your motivations are for things other than exercise.
Today I’m going to ask you to think about things that you are motivated to do and to find things in your environment – maybe even change your environment – that you can use to help you feel more motivated to exercise.
If you’re like me, you might have too many motivations. I’m really motivated! I’m motivated to sit on the sofa, I’m motivated to watch another episode of Orphan Black, I’m motivated to go for coffee with my friends, and I’m motivated to read.
What are your motivations? What gets you excited?
Your motivations will change priority throughout the day depending on environment so while you might have the motivation to exercise at the start of the day, you might find the motivation to sit on the sofa has taken a higher priority by the end of the day.
So how can you do something that you don’t feel like doing?
A simple way to stay motivated to exercise and eat well is to change your environment rather than digging deep to find some hidden motivation reservoir.
I’ve taken this example from a book called “Exercise for Mood and Anxiety” –
One of the authors got hooked on the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The books are exciting, and extremely hard to put down once you’ve picked them up. In other words, the author was highly motivated to read the book but with a busy schedule it was hard to justify devoting time to reading fiction. He was also motivated by the idea of being fit but his motivation to train was really low. In this case, given the choice between training and reading the book with limited time available, reading is going to win!!
So he used his motivation to read those books to help him train.
This is how:
All he did was let himself listen to the book in audio form when exercising. The only self-control he needed to apply was in never listening to the book unless he was exercising. To help, he also kept the book with his running gear and never anywhere else. In order to learn what happened next in the book he would have to go running – boom! – more motivation to run. In fact sometimes, his run would go on longer just because he wanted to see what would happen in the next chapter. By combining two motivations (one easy, and one difficult) he made going for a run much more desirable, and he had the double mood benefit of enjoying the book and feeling good after his run.
Here are some suggestions of additional motivators that you can use: taking a break from your day to get some fresh air, having some sun on your face, time alone to think, time to listen to music, seeing a different part of the city, spending time with friends, or catching up with a TV show.
Think of your exercise time as an opportunity to satisfy another desire.
For me, I use my exercise time to listen to music that I love or podcasts on subjects I’m interested in. Sometimes I use it as an excuse to get away from everyone – I put my headphones on and shut it all out. What motivations can you combine to further support your own exercise goals?
Use the things you enjoy already to help you enjoy exercise. That way you’re doing the things you enjoy more often which you know make you feel good, and you’re getting exercise in which has been proven to make you feel good.
Associate exercise with feeling good and you’re going to want to do more of it; now that’s motivation.