30 Oct

Motivation could be the buzzword of the century.  Serious. Who doesn’t hear it at least once a day? If you’re into fitness and health and you’ve got goals, you have likely thought long and hard about what is going to keep you motivated and moving toward the finish lines you’re racing toward.

Not to throw an obstacle in your path, but I’m here to tell you that as great as motivation feels, and as much as you think that it’s motivation guiding you in the direction of a lean body, being removed from your diabetes meds, developing increased patience, or learning how to more optimally recover from setbacks, for example,  it’s not the end all be all to reaching success.

A long-time client of mine was in for training just recently and after her workout stood there looking discouraged. She had just finished up an intense leg session and anyone watching could easily have cast her as pretty hard core! But what she was feeling was nothing short of downtrodden. “I need motivation…” she stated forcefully. She actually looked up at Evan and said, “I need you to motivate me!” Evan looked at her thoughtfully and said, “What’s going on?”

Frustration oozed from her. In a flash she made it clear that she knew what to do, but she just wasn’t doing it. She wanted to lose weight but wasn’t doing what it would take to make it happen.

I would argue in this case that she was motivated–she was training regularly and she had just acquired a stable job. But what she was lacking was  volition– will & desire combined.

Many of us say we want things. I want to be able to say no to food. I want to have better energy. I want a new job. I want to run a marathon. I want to visit Italy. I want to write a book. I want to …..

The thing is, wants just hang there if we do not actively CHOOSE to take a step toward them. The old saying “Where there is a will, there’s a way” is spot on. Will is mental. Choosing is mental. And acting starts in the brain.  So would it not be accurate to say that motivation is created? My client was motivated, but unless she intentionally stopped to decide what direction she wanted to go in and how she was going to get there, she’d be locked in the perpetual hamster wheel.

Motivation can elude any one of us, no matter how much drive or ambition or determination we have. I’ve been asked a million times “How do you get it all done?!” Am I motivated? At times I feel like I’m driving in a car whose windshield has been egged. I do what I do because I know that I need to, because sometimes I have to, and most times because I don’t want to bear the intense disappointment I’ll face if I don’t!

How many times have I written about how we often act impulsively? I think so I do. I want so I get. I crave so I eat. I feel so I emote. When you behave this way though, how often does it go the way you want it to? How often are your expectations met?

Your motivation level cannot be your guide for accomplishment. If it is you can guarantee you’ll get lost, stuck, and spinning your wheels. Volition, however, means you’ve got the ball. You’re volleying. You’re moving around the court, diving, passing, dodging, and assessing. You’re committed to getting to finishing the race.

What do you do when you notice your motivation is waning? And do you allow it to drag you under, stifling your will and determination?


7 Responses to “M-M-M-Motivation!”

  1. caroline October 30, 2012 at 7:47 PM #

    motivation without movement is nothing more than wishful thinking but sometimes I need to wallow in my motivation for a bit, even when it is low and waning. I eventually get so TIRED – literally tired of thinking about what I want to do that I must move just to shut my brain up and change the loop inside my head. So, I ride it out. Ebb and flow. When motivation is at its lowest and I don’t fight it and just “feel” it eventually there is a click in my head and I hear the old NIKE advertisment Just Do It- and for some crazy reason I ger re-charged. In a nutshell, I don’t stress waning motivation.

    • kpropst October 31, 2012 at 10:50 AM #

      Haha. You’re funny, Caroline. There are different stages of motivation. Absolutely. When you say you need to wallow in it for a bit, that to me just means that perhaps you’re either not emotionally prepared to take the step or you haven’t acquired the tangible education or knowledge necessary to do so. 🙂 Neither is bad or good, it’s just the position you’re in. You can be considering a goal (it’s a fleeting thought) contemplating a goal (you’ve pondered what it might be like or what it might take), you could be preparing for the goal (you’ve taken small steps toward learning about it), you’re active in pursuing the goal(you have a structure that you’re implementing and each step is intentional toward it) or you’re maintaining work toward the goal (has been a part of your life for a longer period of time and it is almost automatic). When you’re in the maintenance stage, obviously if your acute level of motivation/energy is waning, you still don’t have to put so much effort into the steps. You just do it b/c you’ve always done it. 😉

      • Kay October 31, 2012 at 2:50 PM #

        So true, unbelievable portrait of where I am. Thanks for you painting a picture of my position. It helps to know others have been there. Now I’ll try to move on….

      • kpropst November 2, 2012 at 5:03 PM #

        Yep. Others have been there and are there…any any time many people are there. That is the nature of being human. 🙂

  2. licensed life coach October 2, 2014 at 12:51 AM #

    An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.

    I think that you need to publish more about this subject, it may not
    be a taboo subject but generally folks don’t talk about these subjects.

    To the next! Kind regards!!


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