“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. ” – Walt Disney
We all struggle with motivation. Some days we have it, some days we don’t. Reality is though, that we need motivation in order to reach our goals. And yes – you can influence your own levels of motivation.
Motivation is literally the desire to do things. It’s getting up early in the morning to workout instead of hitting the snooze button. It’s going home to prepare a healthy meal instead of swing by a fast food restaurant. Some days, we have a lot of motivation. Other days…not so much.
It’s also important to understand the two different types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic.
- Extrinsic motivation is when you’re motivated to engage in activity to earn a reward (or avoid a punishment). Examples of this include studying before a big test, participating in sports to win awards, competitions to win scholarships, etc.
- Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is when you perform an activity because you find it PERSONALLY satisfying – aka doing it for the sake of doing it. Examples include playing a sport because you find it enjoyable, solving puzzles, or running because you enjoy being active.
Basically, extrinsic motivation is influenced by outside forces and intrinsic motivation is influenced internally.
Most of us get our motivation from a combination of these types. For example, a runner may engage in that sport because he or she truly loves it, but may also be motivated by participating in a race and receiving a medal. There’s nothing wrong with that – what I tell my clients or their parents is this: if it is motivating, safe, healthy, and doesn’t hurt anyone else – go for it!
If you’re anything like me, you get super excited and motivated about things when they’re new, and then that excitement and motivation sort of tapers off. This is also normal, and the struggle then becomes holding onto that motivation. Here are 8 tips to stay motivated:
- Track your progress. If you’re trying to reach a goal (I hope it’s a SMART goal!), track how you’re doing. Trying to hit a goal weight? Record your weight weekly (once is plenty – your body fluctuates wildly, so try for the same time and day each week). Trying to eat out less? Count how many days you stayed in and cooked. When you feel your motivation waning, go back and look at how far you’ve come!
- Get some support (in person or online). In the past, I think I failed at running because I didn’t let anyone know what I was doing (well, except my husband). I had no one to share my triumphs and trials with, or even anyone to exchange ideas with. Now that I have my running group, I am motivated to show up twice a week to run and smile and laugh and complain with them! I also joined a few online groups that deal with gastric bypass surgery. Even though I have several friends who have had the procedure done, having other people to share my story with is helpful.
- Create a vision board. We did this when I was going through my Binge Eating Disorder IOP. Get a stack of old magazines, some glue and paper, and go to town. What do you visualize for yourself? What are your goals? Find some corresponding pictures and words, and get crafty. Hang this in a place you’re sure to see it, such as on the fridge or a bulletin board.
- Break it down into smaller steps. For example, cleaning your house might seem like a monumental task (speaking of, anyone want to come clean mine?!) but if you break it down by room, suddenly it becomes manageable. If you want to “get healthy”, start by breaking that down. One day, make a list of healthy food options. The next day, go shopping. The next day, identify an exercise plan…and so on and so forth.
- Find your WHY. Ask yourself…WHY am I doing this? Dig deep. “To look good” is really a surface goal. Why do you want to look good? Why is that important to you? It took me a while to find my “why”, but mine is this: I want to live a long, healthy life with my husband and future children. I want them to be able to look at me and feel proud that I decided to value my life by changing it. And, honestly – I wanna be that old annoying lady in the nursing home. Sorry, future nurses.
- Reward yourself. It is so important to recognize the hard work you’ve been putting in. Go ahead, go get that manicure. Treat yourself to the new movie that you’ve been waiting to see. Take a bubble bath with your fancy bubbles. Make sure it’s appropriate to what you’ve accomplished (while going on a luxury cruise might be a great goal, it’s probably not worth it for running a mile) and it doesn’t ruin your goal – if you just lost 5 lbs, don’t go on a dessert spree. In fact, I recommend NEVER rewarding yourself with food. It’s a slippery slope!
- Just do it! I promise, you’ll feel better once you get yourself going. For me, it’s the leading up to the working out that makes me not want to do it. Once I actually start working out, I feel amazing. So, on those days that I don’t want to work out or cook dinner, I promise myself a reward – a bubble bath, an episode of a new show on Netflix, painting my nails, whatever. My general rule is this: get yourself to what you don’t want to be doing and give it 10 minutes. If you’re 10 minutes in and still totally feel opposed to the activity, then stop.
- Be patient and don’t give up. This takes time. You will fall off the wagon, and it might back up over you a few times. Get back up. Shake it off. Find things that motivate you; find inspiration anywhere you can. YOU CAN DO THIS!
Share with me: how do you stay motivated?