“80 percent of success is showing up.” – Woody Allen
“Impossible is not a fact. It is an attitude.” – Mohammed Ali
You have probably heard of Abraham Maslow and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Everyone has basic physiological needs like breathing, food and water that need to be satisfied first. Needs can be described as inner imbalance and the relative strength of different needs guide one’s behavior and desire for action. Needs and motives give reasons and base for certain behavior. These together form motivation.
Motivation can be considered a driving force. It is an inner drive to behave or act in a certain manner that compels or reinforces an action toward a desired goal. Motivation can be considered as a desire to do things. It’s the crucial element in setting and attaining goals—and research shows you can influence your own levels of motivation and self-control. Level of motivation varies a lot by person and situation.
Motivation is traditionally divided into two types: Intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) motivation. Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on external pressures or a desire for reward. The kind of motivation that you’re really passionate about. An internal drive so strong that you will not let any obstacle get in the way of you accomplishing your goals. Success and progress are good examples of inner rewards.
Extrinsic motivation refers to the performance of an activity in order to attain an outcome, whether or not that activity is also intrinsically motivated. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the individual. Rewards like pay, feedback and incentives are examples of external motivators.
As a Personal trainer I face motivation issues and questions everyday. I believe motivation is a key factor. But people can be really motivated and still don’t get the results they want. Why is it? And why is it that some people are more motivated than others when it comes to taking care of one’s health, eating right, exercising and other important things in our lives? Why do people start a new exercise regime and then one month later they stop as motivation vanishes?
Willpower and self-control
“I just can’t seem to get motivated to exercise.” ”I’m just not feeling it today.”’I have no energy.” ”I have to help a friend move next weekend.” “I lack self discipline.”
Excuses. Sound familiar? Excuses get you nowhere!
Self-control is the power to direct your actions towards your goals and stay on that path no matter comes along. But the level and power of it can change from time to time. It is like your bicep muscle. Your bicep can sometimes be tired from exercise and so can your self-control muscle! Making decisions and doing daily chores can wear out this valuable asset. So sometimes it is better to let the muscle rest and the powers will return.
Self-control can be learned, developed and strengthened (or weakened) during time. If you want more control you can get it but as with getting bigger muscles you need to practice regularly! It can be replaced by well-selected rewards or incentives.
Willpower is the strength and ability to carry out a certain task; self-control is the ability to use it routinely and even automatically. Self-control is the product of persisted willpower.
People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going. –Earl Nightingale
People have different motives and motivators. You need to find your MOTIVATORs. What motivates YOU towards your goals?
“I go to the gym cause I get to meet people” “I love the pain after exercise” “I feel accomplishment” “I like the sweat” “For me the most important thing is having enough energy to play with my kids” “I love the way I look and feel” “I don’t want to die of heart attack” “Fitness gives me better self esteem” “Training with friends gets me off the couch”
An example of a goal could be “I want to exercise more” or “I want a healthier lifestyle”. Good. Great. That is a start. But not enough. You need to make a PLAN to make your goal a reality.
As mentioned earlier there is a clear link between motivation and goal setting. When you know what you want, when you plan to achieve it and especially how you are planning to get there you have a reason for doing your everything in making it happen. If you only settle for “I want to exercise more” and then get a gym membership but do not plan what, how and when to go there sooner than later you loose motivation for that action. Here some tips for setting goals:
- Set REALISTIC goals. Goals that you really can achieve. Both in short and long term. Do not pick goals you cannot influence the result of.
- Figure out the first step. Set MILESTONES and smaller steps along the way. Do not try to eat the elephant at one go. If you need deadlines type them down. But do not let deadline only determine your success.
- Set CHALLENGING but achievable goals. Research shows that difficult goals increase motivation as you can enjoy successes along the way.
- Don’t settle for “I will do my best”. You don’t necessarily know what your best is before you have tried. Aim at getting BETTER.
- Answer question HOW do I get there. You need SPECIFIC, CONCRETE goals and actions.
- PICTURE yourself at the end of the journey. VISUALISE your goals.
- Think BENEFITS instead of difficulties.
- WRITE your goals and actions down. Place them somewhere visible where you see them everyday.
- SHARE your goals with friends and family.
- Ask for help. Get SUPPORT from other people around you. Rely on a friend or a trainer.
- Realize you will face OBSTACLES. Ups and downs are part of life. Learn, get over it and carry on.
- Get EXCITED!
- Celebrate success and decide on REWARDs. Midway and at the end. This will motivate you towards your ultimate goal.
- Think positive. Most of the time.
- Build HABITS that get you there.
When you want to motivate yourself and develop your self-control, it is important to understand WHY, too. Ask questions like why do you want to reach certain goal? Why is it important to you? What are the benefits?
When you are struck by lack of motivation ask yourself these questions and before you even realize your actions become automated and create a habit.
A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change. –Earl Nightingale
No pain, no gain. -Jane Fonda
I would like to argue that attitude is the basis for motivation. Attitude is a person’s perspective toward a specified target and way of saying and doing or dealing with things. If your attitude is wrong how can you build motivation?
Results are dependent on our every day attitudes. What is seen on the outside is a reflection of who you are on the inside. Your attitude towards your life determines your life’s and other people’s attitude towards you. Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our attitudes and expectations.
People who BELIEVE they can accomplish things will succeed. They assume good things will come to them. It doesn’t really make any difference what you believe in as long as it is working for YOU. So when you want something, there is something worth fighting for, believe there are more reasons to succeed than fail.
Unfortunately we have a habit of underestimating ourselves. We downplay our capabilities and dreams. If you do not believe in YOURSELF you will never achieve what you want. Ditch your old beliefs and don’t be afraid to fail. Decide you DESERVE to succeed. Choose people around you who help you to succeed. Start acting like you are successful and as the person you WANT to be. You decide what your attitude is and have the power to change.
Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly and tend to occur subconsciously. Habits have an impact on your life. More than you probably realize. There are good habits and bad habits. Good habits keep you healthy, your home clean and your body and mind energetic. You brush your teeth in the morning and close the door when leaving home. Bad habits like over eating or smoking have a tendency to have an opposite impact on our lives and bodies.
Your brain cannot tell the difference between good and bad habits. This explains why it is for example hard to create exercise habits cause once we develop a routine of sitting on the couch rather than visiting the gym those patterns always remain inside our heads. But you can have an impact on your (bad) habits. And it is easier than you think!
In the habit loop explained in Charles Duhigg book “The power of habit”, there is something that triggers the action – the cue. It could be for example boredom. Routine follows next (like emotional eating) and at the end there is the reward (sugar rush).
So in this example the cue is boredom. Why do you feel bored could be first question. But in this contest the question is: What other forms of action and routines could you think of rather than eating to fight boredom?
For changing bad habits you first of all need to believe it is possible to change. Study your habits and figure out WHY you are doing what you are doing and recognize the craving that drives the behaviors. Make a plan and remove the factors that trigger that habit. You need to take control of the habit loop and force those bad tendencies into the background.
Stop thinking of a new habit as something you have to do, but as something you are allowed to do. Once you shift from “have to” to “allowed to”, you now feel good about the activity. It’s not a chore, but a treat. It’s not something you struggle through to get the benefit — it is the benefit.
Behavior can become habitual through repetition. Good habits are made and bad habits are overcome by learning new routines and practicing them over and over again. So instead of eating when bored you decide to go for a walk you soon realize it is a good habit and happens subconsciously. Resulting in better health and energy levels.
Motivation comes from clear goals and motivators. Together with the right attitude and willpower motivation helps you reach your goals and create new, good habits.
Forget excuses. Show up. Get excited. Picture a new you. Have passion. Believe in yourself. Repeat, repeat, repeat. And you will succeed.
Motivade Head coach
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
Charles Duhigg: The power of habit (book)
Heidi Grant Halvorson: Succeed – How we can reach our goals (book)
Earl Nightingale: book on Attitude