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Everything you’ve ever achieved started with motivation, that drive inside that makes things happen. But when the going gets tough, we tell ourselves we don’t have enough motivation, we give up, and we stop believing in ourselves.
If you’ve been struggling to find motivation around your fitness goals, you should read this. I’m going to help you untangle the confusion about what really gets you out of bed, help you understand where discipline really comes from, and find ways to tap into your natural desires to get moving again. It might not be easy at first but you can do this.
Motivation or Discipline
On days when your motivation is high, you get out of bed feeling great and are pumped about what’s ahead. Everything feels amazing, and it’s easy to do the work and even enjoy the process. On those days, you feel powerful, and moving toward your goals feels effortless.
But what about when it’s hard to get out of bed? It happens to everyone. Sometimes we had a rough night, things aren’t going well at work, or we’re at odds with a loved one. There can be a million reasons, but the result is the same: our energy flags, and it seems more rewarding to skip the workout than to show up.
When this happens to you, you’re going to be tempted to call yourself lazy, to say you’re not motivated and that you’ll never reach your goals.
But what if you could lean on discipline instead?
Unlike motivation, which we think of as this otherworldly, you-have-it-or-don’t kind of magic strength, discipline is more mundane. Discipline is routines. It’s following through. It’s doing the right thing even when it feels uncomfortable.
When motivation is letting you down, discipline can be your best friend.
We’ve all got a lazy streak. Especially during this pandemic, it’s been extra hard to find motivation to push for our goals. One thing I’ve found to be true is that on those days, weeks, or even months of not really feeling it, the best way to stay disciplined is having a structure and a routine in your life. Routine helps to keep you on track whether you feel like showing up or not. Instead of focusing on how much you don’t want to do the thing, you do it anyway and over time you create a habit. It won’t be easy at first but will get easier if you let it.
Tap into something deeper
Not letting your mood talk you out of doing the work is one half of the battle. The other half is connecting to a truly compelling desire.
Sometimes, when you can’t find the will to get going, try and remember what your motivation was in the first place. For example, we all know that regular exercise helps you avoid health issues like diabetes and heart disease. But when you’re laying there in bed, weighing the decision to sleep in versus heading to the gym, are hypothetical diseases really going to light that fire? Unless you’ve had a painful experience with them, I’d say probably not.
So what can you use as a truly powerful motivator to keep active?
That’s your choice! For many of us, it’s the desire to feel good about our bodies. Women especially are told too often that caring about our looks is superficial, but the truth is, there’s a profound joy in challenging yourself and appreciating the fruits of your hard work. You don’t have to look a certain way to tap into that bliss. Whatever you love, whether it’s a round butt, defined shoulders, or knowing you can deadlift more than your dad, that desire becomes an incredible force that can overcome your doubts.
Do you know what really puts the fire in your belly? Remind yourself what you’re really doing this for, and you might just find that your willpower is much stronger than you thought.
Discipline + Desire = Doing the work
It’s easy to do the right thing when everything is going well. But when stuff gets hard, you can’t count on motivation to move you.
Next time you’re struggling to get going, instead of waiting for motivation to hit, tap into the joy and desire that you’re fighting for. Then quit arguing with your routine and let it carry you to where you need to be.
When you’re doing the work and you start to build momentum, don’t be surprised if motivation finally shows up.