So 2017 is the year you are finally going to stop talking and start doing. You’ve made your resolutions, bought that gym membership, maybe even picked up a new set of workout clothes to help you get you out of the house and into the gym. New year, new you, right? Sadly, only 12% of the people who make resolutions keep and achieve them, so what exactly is going on with the rest of the world? How can we all cultivate enough motivation to help us reach our goals?
I get asked how I stay motivated a fair amount, but never as much as I have in the past few weeks. I think we all know the real question here isn’t how I stay motivated, but rather how can you, personally become and stay motivated to reach your goals? I am often stumped when asked this question because simply put, no two people are the same. What motivates me isn’t likely going to be what motivates you! Everyone’s motives and intentions behind doing something are always going to be different.
I came up with plenty of lists and long drawn out explanations in my head when trying to come up with a way to explain what motivation means to me, and I found that there was one main principle I kept coming back to; you have to be willing to make sacrifices in order to reach your goals, otherwise the motivation will never be there.
When someone says or decides that they can’t or are unable to do something —they can, they are often unwilling to sacrifice the things they would need to give up in order to do so.
I personally have found that this principle applies not only to my fitness goals but to all aspects of my life. If you wanted to buy a house or save for a trip somewhere you would probably have to sacrifice eating out very night or buying new clothes every month so that you can save that extra money, right? In using this same thought process I was able to book my first trip to Europe, and pay off one of my student loans in a matter of months instead of years. Sure, I had to make sacrifices, but to me getting to travel the world and be one step closer to being debt free was far worth that sacrifice. If you want to be successful and reach your goals you have to be willing to sacrifice. It kept me motivated.
You have to commit.
You have to be willing to be uncomfortable.
Being willing to sacrifice is the first step in making a change, but there are a few ways that I’ve been able to find and maintain my own motivation over the years, and that have helped me to reach so many of my goals both as an athlete when I was in college and as an individual now. They have worked for me, and many other inspiring humans I have met throughout my fitness journey. They serve as great templates for your own journey, so keep in mind that you must take them and make them your own and find what works best for you!
Set Realistic Goals & Timelines
Some might argue that this is the easy part, but picking your goals is undoubtedly the most important. History has proven time and time again that if you start off with an end goal that is too far out of reach you are more likely to give up on it. What exactly are you looking to achieve? What area of your life are you looking to improve upon or change? More importantly, how are you going to get there?
More often than not people set a goal (big or small) and forget that one of the keys to success is mapping out a way to achieve it. Sometimes things aren’t as black and white as we would like them to be, and in reality one goal is actually composed of a series of smaller ones. I think about this a lot in terms of my yoga practice. When I set a goal of learning a pose I have to constantly remind myself that it can take weeks or months of practice for my body to catch up with my mind, and it can take weeks or months of failure before things finally click.
Give yourself a realistic timeline, and try to break things down into smaller bits and pieces. Reaching and meeting little victories along the way is a great way to cultivate motivation for yourself while looking to achieve your ultimate end goal.
Find Your ‘Why’
Once you decide what you are looking to achieve, always take a moment and think about what your ‘why’ is. Why are you setting out on this journey? What are you willing to make sacrifices over? Who are you doing this for? The rate of success is always much higher when there is something or someone serving as the driving force behind your actions, and believe it or not that something or someone can be yourself.
For me personally, I am able to stay motivated because my ‘why’ is myself and more importantly, my happiness! When I first started my fitness journey I was the furthest thing from happy I had ever been, and so I was willing to do whatever it took to get that happiness back. I wanted it so badly that I was willing to make any and all changes necessary, whether that was in terms of food, how I spent my time, and even who I surrounded myself with.
Take the time to find your ‘why’ and let that be your driving force when things get hard and you’re on the verge of giving up. Whenever you feel like you are falling behind, remind yourself of why you started and who you are doing this for. It makes things that much sweeter when you get there in the end.
Break It Down Into Tiny Pieces
When I first decided that I wanted to use fitness as a way to regain my happiness, I was using Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide as a measuring stick to my success. I thought that I only had 12 weeks to reach my goal and you know what happened? Twelve weeks passed and I still wasn’t happy.
One of the easiest and fastest ways to lose motivation is to fail. Nobody likes failure, I think we can all agree with that, so when someone has been met with failure time and time again it comes as no surprise that their motivation weakens. But there are people out there who always seem to bounce back after failure, isn’t there? And what those individuals have that many out there feel is in-achievable or unattainable for themselves (spoiler alert, it’s not!) is mental strength. You can teach yourself mental toughness. I know so because I was taught in college! And whenever my team and I set a goal for ourselves, we always started by breaking it down and making it smaller.
It was after that when I decided to break my goal down into tiny pieces. Instead of focusing on what could happen 12 weeks from now, I started to focus on today and today only. Each day is comprised of a series of choices, and each choices can either bring you closer or further away from your goal. Win the day, and pretty soon you’ll win the week, and then the month, and reaching your goals before you even realize it. That is how you build mental strength for yourself; when you use failure as a learning tool and not a set back. Set yourself up for success by breaking things down, and remember that life is a marathon not a sprint!
Be Forgiving With Yourself
If you fail—and we all fail—always be willing to forgive yourself. We each have the power to turn a bad day into a learning experience or let it snowball into something worse, and I have found that forgiveness is a huge component in being able to move forward in the right direction. You are allowed to have set backs. You are allowed to grow angry or annoyed with the process, and you are certainly allowed to have bad days. There is no such thing as perfection. Set your own goals, move at your own pace, stop comparing your journey to someone else’s, and always remember to forgive yourself!
How do you stay motivated? Leave me a comment below with some of the ways you have found success.