If you lack the motivation to exercise, then the first thing to do is decide what you want to achieve.
Do you need a high intensity workout routine, or a swim training plan? A rehab plan or a sprint training plan?
Do you want to lose weight? Look better? Feel better? Or enter a fitness event such as a running race or a fitness competition?
Whatever your motivation to exercise, a clear outcome goal can help you keep focused. It can also help you know that the exercise that you are doing is right for the goal. For example, if your goal is to run a 10km running race, then you’ll know that you should include running as part of your training. Knowing you’re training in line with your goal is a great feeling and helps you focus.
SMART goals should be set in the first instance. Having an inspiring goal in mind is a good start, and making it into a SMART goal is a helpful next step.
Set your expectations realistically yet still inspiring, and be sure to consider all the elements of a SMART goal:
- Time Bound
- Once you have set a SMART goal you can add further motivation by asking WHY?
Asking why you really want to achieve a goal is quite a powerful tool because it will help you drill down into the motivations behind your goal.
Losing 30lbs is not quite as motivating as losing 30lbs so I look and feel great for my wedding day.
Ask yourself WHY 5 times to truly get the reason behind wanting to exercise.
Destination Post Card
Writing a destination postcard to yourself is a fun and motivational tool that will help you with your motivation to exercise at times when you really feel like doing nothing.
By writing a postcard to yourself from your destination – as if you have achieved your goal – can really help you with feeling motivated to train.
If you have an exercise class or training session scheduled after a long day at the office, you might have to dig deep in order to find the motivation to exercise. Having your destination postcard to hand, you can read it out aloud before a workout, and this can help you to change your state and give you that extra little push that you need to get the workout done.
Write A Plan
Your next step when it comes to motivation is to write a plan.
Writing a plan of action, be it a 12 week block of workouts, or specific habits that you need to follow in order to achieve your outcome goal, actually spending the time to write this plan is important, and an effective next step.
Knowing that you are following a plan of action will really help you with your motivation and allow you to measure progress over time.
Follow The Plan
Having a plan of action is a great start. However, nothing happens unless you take action and follow that plan.
Whatever the area of your life it happens to be in, whether it is exercise, personal life, financial or education, nothing will happen unless you take action towards achieving it.
You have written an inspiring outcome goal, and your plan of action is a good one so now your responsibility is to break it into daily practices that you can actually do.
Focus on the process, whether that be workout 3 times per week at the gym, or eat three meals per day without snacks, whatever your plan is, your responsibility is to focus on action.
This will give you huge motivation.
Keep The Goal The Goal
Magpies are famous for being drawn to shiny objects. We humans are very similar, and it may sound funny but the main goal is to keep the goal the goal.
Keep your goal in mind.
Keep working towards it.
If you need to focus only on one thing at a time until it gets done.
If you find yourself being drawn in lots of different directions then check back in with your goal. Ask yourself ‘how’s this working for me?’.
If needed, cut out the other distractions and refocus. Read your postcard and your smart goal, and edit your plan to make it doable for you.
The best plan in the world will only work if it is followed. And consistency is a bigger factor in success than following the perfect plan.
Keep the goal the goal. Measure the outcome. Adjust as you go.
Measuring progress is crucial. Making outcome based decisions is the key to success, and with results comes motivation.
Take appropriate assessments regularly, and ask the question ‘is this working for me?’.
If the answer is yes, keep doing it. If not, adjust and monitor the outcome.
Acknowledge And Reward Your Success
Motivation to exercise can be helped by taking the time to acknowledge your success. Too often we look at how far we still have to go towards our goal, and while this is important to keep the goal in mind, looking back is really helpful too.
Look how far you have come in the past 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years…
Acknowledge your success, and reward it in a supporting manner.
Action Creates Motivation
Commonly we think of motivation as the trigger to take action. For example having the motivation to exercise.
What happens if you flip this notion though?
In my experience with my clients and with my own goals, taking action, even mini wins, can result in a snowball effect and huge gains in motivation.
If you put something off, such as a workout, you can make huge gains by just starting. Put your gym gear on. Get to the gym. Do one single lift or an easy dynamic warm up. Often you’ll find that by taking action, this will ignite motivation.
We all need support sometimes. If you want to achieve something more easily, more quickly and with a better result, then asking for help from an expert in that field is a good idea.
- When I sold my house I sought help for conveyancing and most aspects of the house sale.
- When my children were born I sought help from my maternity specialists in my local area.
- When I chipped a tooth I sought help from a dentist.
- When I needed my car to be serviced I sought help from a mechanic.
Exercise, health and fitness is no different. You may be an expert in many areas of your life, but know that there is no shame in asking for help to achieve your fitness goals.
So many highly successful, intelligent and independent people struggle to achieve health and fitness results because they lack the skills to reach and then maintain their goals.
If you are struggling to exercise then asking for help from a specialist such as an online PT or a PT in your local gym, or even a successful friend who has achieved what you want to achieve can be a helpful tool.
Sometimes we all need to eat humble pie and ask for help, because in the long run it will be worth it.
Enjoy The Journey
Remember to enjoy the process and the journey.
You might have a life and death need to lose weight, or you might feel pressure to get fit to do that run, because you have sponsorship money to raise.
It is important to enjoy your journey one step at a time, no matter what your goal.
For further information and as a supplement to this article, I have written a guide on how to eat consistently well – the ultimate weight loss guide. It takes you through five steps to losing weight and improving your health.
Combined with exercise, nutrition is the single biggest limiting factor to your success so I highly recommend reading the above mentioned guide.
In addition to the free resources I have, such as the weight loss cheat sheet below this article, you might also be interested in joining me for online personal training.
Finally, if you feel yo want to improve your relationship with food, then weight loss coaching might be of interest to you.
I hope this helps with your motivation,