Managing Motivation

Every athlete has been there. Goals are set, progress is on schedule and what you are seeing in the mirror is on point. Then suddenly one day it sneaks up on you. It’s time to hit the gym to put in some reps or more mind-numbing cardio when the TV and a cozy comforter start calling your name. Despite your goals and commitment to reaching them, at this moment you don’t feel like leaving the house and going to the gym.

You start to justify or even negotiate with yourself until you reach the point where postponing a workout sounds logical and may even seem like the prudent thing to do. Or worse yet, you go to the gym out of guilt and with the wrong mindset and have a horrible workout. You blame it on lost motivation.

The truth is, motivation isn’t lost at all. It’s in the exact same place it’s always been. It’s in your every thought, it’s in your environment, it’s in the things and people you surround yourself with and it’s as strong as it’s ever been. Your motivation has just shifted directions. Where you once felt highly motivated to train, you now feel highly motivated to stay home.

Motivation is driven by your thoughts, emotions, and what and who you surround yourself with but your level of comfort or discomfort is often times the most significant factor that impacts where our motivation is directed.

You probably would not run out of your house in your underwear during the middle of winter but if your house was engulfed in flames, you would be more motivated to get out of the house regardless of what you were wearing than you would be motivated to stick around and get dressed.

That’s an extreme example made to illustrate the point but more realistically, if you are a morning person then it may be very uncomfortable to train at night. Or if you are going through a very painful or depressing emotional time it may feel impossible to think the thoughts you need to have in your head to be disciplined about your training or meal plan.

There is any number of events or experiences that can potentially create enough discomfort to cause a shift in motivation away from your goals. Having a plan to manage motivation throughout your training cycle is just as important as having a detailed training and meal plan. By honestly self-evaluating your personality, environment, relationships and how you respond to discomfort will allow you to understand your emotional comfort zones. The next step is to control what you can and have a plan to react in a productive way to the things you can’t.

You may have to limit times with people that are not supportive or tempt you to do or think things that are not in line with your goals. You may need to spend more time with people in person or online that are aligned with yout goals. You may have to change your training times or the gym you go to if it’s not helping you focus on feeling energized, focussed and purpose driven. These are the things you can control.

Of course, life will throw things at you that you can’t control. The illness of a friend or loved one, the loss of a job, a car wreck, or something as simple as a common cold. But you can prepare for times like these by managing your environment. There are countless things you can do like reading a book that motivates you, listening to music, watching a movie, listening to a podcast, or looking at pictures and videos. Being prepared with a number of things you can add to your environment that will spark an emotion that brings your goals back into focus and re-directs your motivation to where you need it to be is the best way to deal with distractions.

The bottom line is that motivation doesn’t come and go, it just changes direction, most times caused by a level of physical or emotional discomfort. In order to manage motivation, you need to evaluate yourself honestly then create a plan to get back on track when your motivation gets re-directed so you stay on track and moving toward your goals.

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Terry Goodlad

WPC Media Director, Photographer, Writer, Vlogger, Podcaster, Business Consultant, Athlete and Elite Coach

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