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Motivation is a scary word.. It can open doors and can lead us to happiness. But on the other hand without it we can find our goals or possible achievements getting further and further away until they are out of sight. That's not even the scariest part because, when we finally find it, that does not necessarily mean that it will stick around for long.
The purpose of this blog however is not to give you a motivational speech, but rather to understand the science of it and how we can stay motivated for longer.
First a definition of motivation : a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way/ our desire or willingness to do something.
To better understand this there is a quote that I found that I believe explains motivation a lot more clearly :
"At some point the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it" - Pressfield (the war of art)
In other words at some point it's actually easier to exercise or to eat healthy than to regret eating that bag of crisps or to keep experiencing that self hatred when sitting on the couch all day.
It's easier to change than to stay the same. I realised this myself the day I understood that the world doesn't stand still.. By this I mean, the seasons will change , years will go by whether or not I do something. So during that time (days/weeks) that I waited for motivation to eat healthy and look after myself, I realised.. hang on if I had started last month I would be healthier by now.
Funny thing is, is that we all know the benefits of motivation, I don't need to tell you that it feels good to achieve your goals etc.. You already know.
So why is it so hard? If we know that it will give us pleasure in the long run.
For the most part things/ goals that need motivation in the first place, are not easy to attain or require a bit of effort to get there over an extended period of time. Also the fear of failure once you have put in all that hard work. And we can never forget instant gratification, I mean we all know that feeling when we see ice cream or chips we aren't thinking about how we will feel after or how it impacts our bodies or our efforts but rather.. "IT TASTES SOOO GOOOD!!"
How to make motivation possible?
Step 1 : make a schedule
If you are hoping to wake up one morning and find motivation sitting next to you, I'm afraid you are out of luck.
I found that motivation often shows up only after that you have started your new behaviour not before. So if you start eating healthy today motivation will keep you going for a little while and then it's all down to habit.
Motivation is the result but it is not the cause, so start preparing healthy meals and snacks or set a schedule for your exercise routine and you will find yourself caught in the momentum once you get going!
Step 2 : Start NOW not later
We've all heard the " I want to eat healthy so I need to finish all the junk in the house first so that I am not tempted"
No. In any case this is not a healthy approach. The "all in or out" approach is unhealthy and unrealistic in the long run.
If you want to achieve something there is NO reason that you shouldn't start right now.
Step 3 : Start small
How do I start right now you ask? It's simple.
Make it realistic. If you go too big it will seem way too daunting and well you won't even know where to start. If you go too small then well you'll get bored and give up. You have to find the right balance. Like goldilocks and the three bears, you need to find the porridge that's just right. This way your motivation will stick around for longer and you will feel like you are working towards a goal you can actually achieve.
For example, if you say : "that's it I am never going to eat a piece of junk food ever again" (too big)
" I am going to have one healthy meal a week" (too small and you will probably forget)
" I am going to make every meal as healthy as I can and still allow myself a treat now and again" ( I don't know about you, but to me that sounds just right.)
Finally once you have created your routine, you must prepare for those days where motivation is no where to be found and it just doesn't work and let yourself off the hook. Give yourself a break from time to time. Just make sure you're not giving yourself a break ALL the time, it's all about balance.