Motivation is highly overrated

The other night I really didn’t feel like running.  Or doing push-ups and sit-ups.  Especially doing the push-ups.  I strongly considered tanking it and just laying on the couch.  Especially because I had a 7pm conference call for work that was going to make for a very late night.  In all honesty though, even without the conference call this is a not uncommon circumstance.

Motivation was low.  What to do?  How to make myself do my scheduled workout?  Some of you will say: “Willpower!” and “Self-discipline!”  

To you people I say: “You’re a better man/woman/person than me” and “You’re completely delusional”.

The correct answer, of course, is “self-deception” and “trickery”.  When I want myself to do something that … my … self? … doesn’t want to do, here’s what I do:  


Step 1 of getting my butt out the door: convincing myself I don’t have a choice

Why don’t I have a choice?  Because I specifically phrase my own thoughts to make it sound like there’s no choice.  Instead of saying/thinking “am I really going to go and run tonight?”, I think “I can’t believe that I still have to go run tonight”.  See the difference?  In the first one I’m admitting a choice exists – DANGER WILL ROBINSON!  I am a lazy, unmotivated person, if there’s a choice I’m liable to make the wrong one.  Choices are dangerous and bad!  In the second, I’m not admitting that a choice even exists.  But I’m also commiserating with myself and NOT trying to convince myself to actually do anything yet.  A key to self-deception is to be gradual.  The other reason that I don’t have a choice is because I’ve set up a system of public accountability, knowing that I would have to get on this blog and make some lame excuse and sound like a whiny … excuse maker.  


Step 2 of getting my butt out the door: thinking about how I would feel during and especially after the run

Key point: avoid reality.  Skip any thoughts of how uncomfortable running can be or how much getting warmed up and started sucks (a lot by the way, that’s how much).  I don’t even think about how I would really feel during the run since I mostly feel like hammered dog crap during runs.  And especially don’t think about any hills.  Yee-gawds.  Instead I think about how I could or might feel for a split second running downhill while listening to an uptempo song when my breathing was in that rhythmic sweet spot.  Even better is thinking about how I feel AFTER I’m done.  Sweaty, loose, endorphins pumping, smug and self-righteous.  That’s the good stuff right there.  Again, I wasn’t trying to make myself do anything at this point, just doing some focused thinking.


Step 3 of getting my butt out the door: getting into costume

Even before my conference call I changed out of my work clothes and put on my running clothes.  Then when my call was over I was already prepared to workout.  No barriers.  That’s the key.  Don’t try to force yourself to overcome your objections, just gradually work those barriers down until there’s nothing to keep you from going.  Even at that point I wasn’t feeling motivated, and I didn’t even tell myself that I was or had to actually go out and do the run.  Just act like all you’re going to do is get dressed.  ”Don’t worry, self, I’m not even going to try to run anymore, once I get dressed we’ll call that success and call it a night.”  My “self” really is pretty stupid.

And then since I was already dressed for it and because I knew how much better I would feel later if I did the workout than if I didn’t, I did it.

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