Finding motivation is yet another one of life’s frustrations. Like most people, we all seem to have the best intentions and gallons of motivation stemming from the New Year’s Eve party. You know, the promise to ourselves and others of what we are going to change. We start off with the greatest of intentions and really get moving with a powerful rush of motivation. The benefits we experience when we are motivated are very positive. It fires our feel-good neurochemicals and lifts our self-esteem.
The hardest part of the motivation equation is the time when we begin to plateau. It’s like the body gets used to the feel-good lift and then begins to normalize it. This I find, is where the fun starts – [NOT]!! We really need to start digging deeper to find the motivation. For some reason, it just seems like it evaporates taking with it, all our mojo.
As the energy is beginning to evaporate, we are now entering the difficult zone. How many times can you remember being at this point? Sometimes this is the make or break period. The early morning comes too early (laugh out loud!!). This is the time where we can experience higher levels of resistance. I don’t know about you, but I can assure you, there is a part of my mind that is getting really loud and will produce a zillion of excuses not to get up. In past, as soon as I have allowed this debate (finding excuses) to begin in my head of a morning – I’ve ended up losing!! Where’s your self-discipline you say? There is no need for you to start that guilt trip – I’ve already started that internal tape playing…..it’s a familiar and usual story!!
The Motivation Mojo’s Under Threat
I have found there are two voices in my mind surrounding the issue of motivation or will-power. I call one, my motivated mind (self-discipline) and other, my slack/”poor-me” mind. Whilst I’m motivated obviously my self-disciplined mind is winning the game. However, over time what comes back into vogue is my slack ass mind. The alarm goes off and I am lying there for what feels like 5 minutes, listening to these two voices debating each other. By this stage, I’m allowing the warmth of the bed to win me over. I give in to the “poor me” excuses. I roll over and back to sleep (feel-good) and the historical sabotage pattern wins yet again! Please ask yourself how many times has this slack ass voice beaten your self-discipline? I guess back in the old days, hunger and the need to get food was a powerful motivation. Positive psychology wasn’t invented back then and there was no such concept of will-power.
Hebbian Law ~ ‘Neurons wired together fire together’
I have wondered how much of this pattern is actually wired neurologically in my brain. Is the old pattern, of “all or nothing” part of my neural wiring? I kick goals for a while and then fade out. The fade out pattern re-sets itself and settles in for a few more weeks. After succumbing and being beaten by my resistance to exercise, my self-esteem takes a bit of a nose dive. Quietly I know that I have not been out on the track (exercise of some form). It not a major self-esteem free fall, but there is the negative ‘inner critic’ quietly letting me know what – I am not doing. There is a sense of shame however my denial (which is not a river in Egypt) works wonders here and eventually blocks out the inner critic’s familar dialogue!!
Finding the motivation has for me been about trial and error process. YES, I can be accused of being a slow learner LOL and all you need is a good old dose of self-discipline!! After years of effort, there is an additional consistent theme to my motivation equation – known as my unconscious self-sabotaging dynamic. Learning to recognize this pattern has seriously assisted in maintaining my motivation and improving my self-worth and well-being.
It is finally wonderful to have the whispering inner critic silenced by being motivated. However, it was not until I rewired the old ‘self-shaming’ pattern that the motivation or will-power dynamics started to shift in my favor. After each session, there is a sense of achievement and that is a real boost to my overall sense of self-worth. There is the additional ongoing benefit of feel-good neurochemicals – yippeee!!
Having worked through the old self-shaming cycle, I found finding and staying motivated is about doing something you really enjoy doing. Adopting a different mindset that exercise doesn’t have to be about pushing to exhaustion. Adopting goals that are achievable is fundamental to feeling good about yourself. You know, we don’t have to compare ourselves daily to Mr & Mrs. Altas!! Finding the right form of exercise that you might look forward to and enjoy is really worth focusing on? It could be weekend hiking which your gig. To comfortably enjoy the hiking it may need at least 3 sessions during the week to build up the leg miles. There is a motivating factor.
Neuron fire apart, wire apart – Winning the Motivation Stakes
When the motivation and will-power start to fade it’s time to think about what really going on. Will-power doesn’t just happen as it needs the appropriate self-care to be recharged. Are you getting the right amount of sleep and nourishing foods in balance with the exercise regime? This checklist is important at the physical body level.
Then there may be the potential for deeper self-sabotage pattern to begin to emerge. It could be when the slack ass mind and energy starts kicking in with its verbal – ‘will I-won’t I’ debate. It is important to acknowledge it and use its presence to seriously refocus. I bring my full awareness back to seeing exercise as part of my lifestyle change and when the self-sabotage voice begins to emerge, I remind myself it’s just part of the brain’s old neural wiring!
Focus On My Deepest Heart Intention – Lifestyle Change
Instead of just focusing on short-term goals, I bring it back to lifestyle change. By lifestyle, I mean I focus on my body, my mind, heart, and soul. Instead of focusing on what’s hard, I focus on the heartfelt benefits – my body gets from any type of exercise. I also work to reset my mindset to the cellular memory of how my body and being feels at the end of each session.
A powerful change to finding motivation has been not listening to my old slack ass mind (victim archetype) and energy. I don’t ignore it, I acknowledge and use it as part of my change. I believe it has to do with how my old behavioral pattern, was neurologically wired and fired. At the morning alarm, I now don’t give its voice any due diligence! My feet hit the floor and out of bed. What has helped with firing this motivation, is setting up the morning supplements before I go to bed. My heart and mind are setting the intention.
Another tactic I have learned to use is to trick my mind. One of the prime excuses for resistance is “the exercise is too hard”. I heard this technique from Brian Johnson Philosophers Notes – https://www.optimize.me/. To ease the mind of how hard it’s going to be – the idea is to think of just doing 10%. This thought seems to make it easier. I have found that I am more motivated to get out and do 10% which turns into 60%. It’s an incredible process because “the doing” it, can sometimes invisibly kick in the motivated mindset shift and you reach 100%. Even if you don’t, 60% is an achievement and it’s important to acknowledge yourself for doing it. Another small achievement!
Accepting small achievements is another a mindset shift. Like the tortoise and hare metaphor. The hare expects us to push it hard and fast and this is where the body may become exhausted and burns out. Using the tortoise mindset eases the approach but gets it done! There are other days when it will be a solid workout session of 110%. Then there are other days where I can’t be bothered. I have not felt like it – but did it anyway!! I’m giving myself the praise for just being out there doing as much as I can. This is a positive shift rather than being disappointed for the slack effort. It feels good. This might sound strange but I’ve learned to ask the slack-ass voice how does it feel with the physical achievement? (“Always loves the sleep in“) – but it has to admit it to feels good via the neurochemical rush.
The final aspect of finding motivation is maintaining a consistent focus on the deepest intention of change, from your heart. The heart holds our really deep passion and purpose. We just need to listen and hear it. This energy will provide our consistency of action. These actions occur in other areas of our life where we want to achieve things. I believe these actions are, therefore, transferable traits and skills. To help in maintaining consistency you can also surround yourself with like-minded people. Sometimes using electronic tracking devices to help keep you accountable. It amazing to look at the app’s calendar and see how many sessions you’ve completed over the year. It’s an amazing wow factor. It is really important to keep at it, work at making the mindset shift and acknowledging the important small wins! Keep at it and it will subtly change.
“Be Gentle & Enjoy”