The Motivation Cycle
Six Ways to JUST Press Play!
I get health and fitness-related questions on a wide variety of topics daily, and I thrive on sharing what’s worked for me and offering insights in the spirit of spreading wellness. By far and away, the question I get asked the most is, how do I stay motivated.
Motivation can certainly be a tricky and complicated thing. I see it as a perpetual cycle that begins with what I call, just pressing play.
Here is how I boil it down:
Motivation comes from doing the hard things, which leads to results, which generates motivation. In other words, the cycle doesn’t begin with motivation, it begins with simply doing, or “pressing play.”
Getting started, even in very small ways, is a form of active stimulation that produces momentum. Think of it as Newton’s First Law of habit formation: Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Once you press play, it’s easier to continue moving forward.
The good news is, you have the power to create your own mindset to press play. But of course, sometimes that takes a little nudge.
To be clear, there are days or times when I find it daunting to do the hard stuff. I don’t wake up every day ready to hit the ground running. But I do wake up every day with the want and desire, with the grit and determination to do what’s right – for me, for others, and for my body. I think most people generally want to spend their time in a way that’s productive and creates movement toward being the best version of themselves. Sometimes it just takes tapping into that desire and grit to stir up the energy to “do.”
To that end, I want to share with you some things that have worked for me, in hopes that you can find some golden nuggets…some actionable items that will work for you.
Decide to Abolish Negative Self Talk
There is no place for negative self-talk when it comes to moving toward a goal, and it is 100% within your control to shift those thoughts toward positive ones. When thoughts creep in such as, “this seems too daunting,” or “I am not up for this and might not succeed,” simply stop and turn them around. You decide what you think and what you tell yourself. You can be your own worst critic or your own best cheerleader. Choose cheerleader!
Give Yourself a Pep Talk
Tap into the words that resonate with you and inspire you, and say them out loud. Tell yourself that you can do it and you will do it. That you believe in you. That you are fully worthy of this goal and wholly able to achieve it. I use a great app called Think Up which helps you to create self-motivation pep talks… and helps you to think up!
Break It Down
Looking at an aspiration you’ve set for yourself can seem daunting and exhausting. It can wipe you out before you start. What works for me – every time – is to break it down into bites. Identify one or two or the three things you know you can do today to move toward your goal and execute. Get them done, be proud, then go to bed and do it again tomorrow.
Perpetuate the Positive
Along the way, there will be dips in motivation, and the negative self-talk can sneak right in. One creative and simple hack you can do to avoid this is to be prepared to perpetuate the positive! Prepare your positive thoughts on a simple message on your phone, or a sheet of paper next to your bed, or that you carry with you throughout the day. Even a sticky note on the mirror. Whatever works for you. Just keep pushing toward positive.
Write a Mission Statement for Yourself
Taking this notion one step further, creating a simple paragraph or two encapsulating where you want to go, why, and how you will get there can act as a simple agreement with yourself. Writing something down gives it weight and significance. Make a deal with yourself and sign it knowing you have to stick to your end of the deal.
Create a Vision Board
When you form something clear and concrete in your mind and can visualize it, it feels more real and attainable. Creating a vision board can be very effective. It can help you to form an emotional connection with your goal, and visual inspiration to refer back to.
Above all, know that motivation is very fluid. Some days or moments it’s easier to press play than others. Life is a constant balance between the ease of giving in and the challenge of finding the discipline to move forward. The moment you don’t feel like doing the work is a challenge to be accepted, acknowledge it, and try out the tools I’ve outlined here to refresh your mindset. And enjoy the ride. Understanding and working through the Motivation Cycle only makes you stronger to face the next goal!