How to get motivated

With the new year upon us we are getting ready to make our new year’s resolutions to find our motivation. Here are some tips from a Nutritionist based in Windsor to help you find your motivation in the new year.

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What is motivation?

A general willingness to do something.

At some point, the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it.

Every choice we make comes at a cost. When we are motivated it’s easier to bear the inconvenience of the action than the pain of remaining the same. Somehow, we cross a mental threshold (usually an ah-ha moment where we give ourselves a kick up the butt usually after weeks of procrastination).

Where does motivation come from?

Watching motivational video or talks. WRONG!

How many times have you said to yourself “when this happens, I will be more motivated to do…

Or perhaps you have set yourself New Year’s Eve resolutions to try and find motivation.

Motivation comes after starting a new behaviour, not before. Getting started, even in very small ways is a form of motivation that naturally produces momentum.

You don’t need much motivation to start behaviour. All the resistance is at the beginning. After you start progress occurs more naturally. That’s why it’s easier to finish a task then it was to start the task in the first place.

Therefore, one of the keys to getting motivated is to make it easy to start.

How do I get started?

Automate the early stages of your behaviour e.g. have a scheduled time and a system for making it happen. 

This will allow your decision making to occur on autopilot by giving your behaviours/goals a time and place to live within your daily schedule. 

It will be more likely that you will follow through regardless of your motivational levels.

What if I don’t feel like it?

Start building rituals or pregame routines.

Start by building a simple act that makes the behaviours required habitual. 

Make them repeatable and easy to do. 

By doing these rituals it will reduce the chances that you will skip the behaviour as its one less thing to think about before starting.

The power of having a ritual or a pre-game routine is that it provides a mindless way to initiate your behaviour. It makes starting your habits easier and therefore following through consistently more likely.

The key to a good ritual is removing the need to make a decision. You need starting the behaviour to be easy and automatic, so you have the strength to finish it when it becomes challenging or difficult.

Make it so easy you can’t say NO!

Your ritual or pregame should also move you closer to your end goal. Therefore, it needs to be as easy as possible to start and gradually transition you towards increasing physical movement. 

Examples:

  • Want to go for a run in the morning? Ritual: alarm goes off, get out of bed, get changed into running gear, go for a run.  
  • Want to write a journal? Go and collect writing kit, walk to a quiet place you can focus at, start writing.
  • Your ritual is a practice you want to be able to continually repeat every time you want to do a particular behaviour. This reinforces the brain that this is what happens before I do….
  • This allows you to prime your mental state ready to perform the behaviour. You don’t need to find the motivation you need to start your ritual routine.

How to stay motivated and find Flow.

We all love to be challenged within the optimal zones of difficulty. We need tasks to be not too far below our capabilities but not too far above them either. We want nothing more than mastering a skill just beyond our current abilities.

Humans experience peak motivational levels when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current ability levels. Not too hard not too easy just right.

This is the key to long term motivation.

If you find yourself unmotivated to work on or towards a particular task or goal it is often because it has been drifted into an area of boredom or shoved into an area of difficulty. 

You need to find a way to pull your tasks back to the border of your abilities where you feel challenged but capable.

Key areas to long-term motivation:

Tasks significantly below your capabilities are boring.

Tasks significantly above your capabilities are discouraging.

Tasks that are right on the border of success and failure are incredibility motivating.

This is referred to as the wonderful blend of happiness and peak performance also known as Flow. 

Flow has been described as ‘being in the zone’ when you are so focused on a task at hand that the rest of the world just fades away. This can also be described as your state of peak motivation. It’s a happy place to be in.

Measuring your progress is also an import part of reaching a flow state. By measuring how you are doing you can get immediate feedback about your progress at each stage of the journey. Therefore, measurement is an important aspect of motivation.

Facing optimal challenges and receiving immediate feedback about the process you are making towards that challenge are two of the most critical components of peak motivation.

What do I do if motivation fades?

Every thought is a suggestion, not an order. You have the power to choose which option to follow.

Your mind will always look to take the easy road or the road that has greater short-term pleasure. 

Does the question then return to whether you respect the identity you are trying to build?

Discomfort is temporary. Moments of discomfort will teach you; they will strengthen you.

Sometimes just the simple act of showing up and having the courage to do the work, even in an average manner, is a victory worth celebrating.

LIFE LESSONS FROM MOTIVATION:

“Life is a constant balance between giving in to the ease of distraction or overcoming the pain of discipline. 
It’s not an exaggeration to say our lives and our identities are defined in this delicate balance.
What is life, if not the sum of a hundred thousand daily battles and tiny decisions to either gut it out or to give up?”
James Clear (author of Atomic Habits book) quote.

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