Motivation: Beyond the catchphrase



This is part of an ongoing series where I take a look at motivational images, phrases and soundbites culled from “fitness motivation” websites and other sources.  I break them down and try to figure out what makes them effective or ineffective motivation for me.

I absolutely LOVE this one 2

I absolutely LOVE this one.  I think it is an utterly accurate and seriously uncomfortable truth.

Anytime you skip a run because of the weather; don’t go to the gym because you started to watch TV; or decided not to do calisthenics in your hotel room because you’re traveling, you are finding an excuse because your health and fitness isn’t really important to you.

Think about the last time that something was seriously important to you.  Could be a major work project, a paper for school, getting your wife to the hospital while she’s in labor, anything that was REALLY important.  Did you find and excuse not to do it or did you find a way to make it happen?

You made it happen didn’t you?  If something is really, honestly important to you, then you’ll get it done almost no matter what.  You’ll stay up all night; work feverishly; run red lights; call in favors; brow beat lackadaisical group members; and metaphorically (hopefully) lie, cheat, and steal to get it done.

The problem is that for most of us the “importance” of those moments we’re remembering were IMPOSED on us externally: losing our job, failing out of school, having a baby in the backseat of the car, and so on.  Unless there’s an external factor involved then we’re all too likely to leap at the first obstacle we encounter as an acceptable excuse to cop out.

The trick is to impart “importance” to things ourselves in such a way that it drives us to overcome excuses and find a way.  Here are a few ways to do it:

1)     Explicitly state that it’s important.  Tell yourself – in writing and/or out loud to yourself – that the thing you should be doing is important to you and why.  Eliminate any vague notions your “other self” has that this isn’t a big deal.

2)     Identify that whatever you are doing instead or whatever condition you think is keeping you from doing what you should be doing is just an excuse.  Clearly state – to yourself, or better yet to your roommate or significant other – that [the TV, the weather, your mild muscle soreness, your attitude, etc] is a weak excuse not to do something that you know you should.

3)     Take a look at your written fitness goals (you do have those don’t you?) and remind yourself of why it’s IMPORTANT to go do your workout.

4)     Ask yourself, “what’s more IMPORTANT to me?  My [health/fitness/physical appearance/athletic performance] or [watching TV/taking a nap/going to the movies/sleeping in/etc. ?”  Hint: the answer should be one of the former NOT the latter.

5) Create a blog and generate external pressure (i.e. a sense of importance) by exposing your real priorities (i.e. potential hypocrisy) to your friends and family (and complete strangers).

6) Put your money where your mouth is.  Bet a friend.  Use a commitment system like Beeminder or Stikk.


One thought on “Motivation: Beyond the catchphrase

  1. This is good advice, I will use it when I feel like sleeping in or blowing off a run, swim or bike. I also like this, “a goal without a plan is just a dream.” I heard Herm Edwards say it on espn but some French Philosopher said it first, but I like Herm, so I credit him.

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