How to motivate yourself and stay motivated

tough training in kirkhill forest

We all have those days, you know the ones where… you just can’t be bothered! Motivation is a tricky business! Sometimes it’s super easy, you’re switched on, raring to go and with all the good feels, and excitement that comes with it. On the other hand, it can also be so so difficult.  Locked in a constant battle with the task at hand, trying to find the best way to motivate yourself, yet finding yourself in one form of procrastination after another… *Did someone say it’s time for another cup of tea??

Here I’m hoping to explain the basics behind motivation, how to harness it and how to recognise when you are struggling with it.

What is a lack of motivation?

Anything that is difficult or boring often requires some sort of motivation.

The issue is, we know that we have to do the task or we know that doing the task is going to make us feel good and help us get the results we want, however, actually doing it is a different matter…

Why can’t I just do

Too much thinking and not enough doing!

I am a terrible over-thinker, I build it up to become this big thing.

I know it’s going to require a ‘huge’ amount of energy or thought and I’m tired, hungry, busy, stressed, injured, late etc…

What goes through my head…

I have an hour to train,  If I run for an hour / go to the gym for an hour, I’ve  got to get ready before and then haven’t got time to train properly for the full hour, I’d have to leave now and I still  need to get ready for work, catch up with a friend later and it really doesn’t allow me to do the 45 minutes of stretching at the end that’s going to make me feel great so I should probably just leave it until I have this perfect 3 hour window to do my hour of training when the weather’s going to be perfect and I feel great because I’ve eaten all the right foods the week before… yeah, that’s what I’ll do, I’ll do it tomorrow…

I am just getting back into running. It’s not my favourite activity to do but I am interested in triathlons and recognise running as a weakness, so I want to do a little more!

I tried to tell myself to go out and run 10km (because anything less just wouldn’t be worth it), but I kept putting it off and putting it off;
I’ll wait and go somewhere nice to run – then it rained,
then I was too hungry
then I was too tired.

Eventually, I was like I’ve got 20 minutes and I need to do something, I’m just going to go run now!

Guess what?

I did it.

I was spending way too much time trying to think of the best solution and the rest of the time I was procrastinating

When in reality I should just go out and do it!

I never regret it and always feel better for it!

Motivation & Momentum

Motivation stems from having momentum! So the real key is how can I build momentum to keep this habit up and get the results that I want to

Motivation is not easy and it will go up and down. That’s normal. Don’t beat yourself up about it!

Here are some tips to help build and maintain momentum:

Tips to build motivation

Start small

This is an important one! Sometimes the stress we put ourselves under comes from trying to build something up to be too big a task.

We want perfection and we want it yesterday.

We want to form a habit, it could be; a new way of eating, be a committed student or look phenomenal all within an unrealistic timeline…we are cutting off our noses to spite our faces and then wondering why it didn’t work.

The bigger the task the harder it is to motivate yourself.

It takes time to build up:

This is why programmes like couch-2-5k are such a great programme. They break training down into small manageable steps.

For some the first few weeks look too easy – “I don’t need to do the first few weeks because that’s too slow!”

Hold your horses, Speedy Gonzales, love the confidence but the best part about the start of the program is that it helps you build momentum. It builds up a routine.

How often have you tried to increase the amount of training you do? Or how many times have you said you want to lose a ‘little’ more weight, or tone up a ‘little’, or get a ‘little’ fitter and wanted to do it all at once with this outrageous training and food plan?

You clear all your cupboards out to fit in the ‘healthy’ food. Set your alarm for 6 am 5 days out of 7.

You maybe manage a week, but then yeeesh you’re exhausted and just don’t feel great! You start questioning why it has to be so hard.  Yeah, you’re setting your bar too high! Start smaller!!!

The best success you have is when you do a little bit at a time

What is the smallest step you can take now? Then the next one… and the next one…

It could just be leaving your trainers by the door ready to throw on before you head down to boot camp.

Have a plan

This works differently for everyone. Some people like a well written, colour coordinated timetable of when they are doing something. If that works for you, great. Others prefer a rough outline for the week or day.

Personally, I like to have a rough idea of what I’m doing. So if I’m going to train once this week then I don’t pick a day and make sure I fit in my 1 training session in 7 days. So if i don’t do it the first 6 days then I have to do it on the 7th. This works for me right now, it might not in the future but that doesn’t matter. Others may prefer to set a specific day, you have to do what works best for you.

At school I had a plan to study 3 hours a day before my exams. I created the BEST looking study timetable you’ve ever seen. Colour coordinated, drawn out with rulers, tea breaks included. It was due to start on Monday but then I slept in… plan ruined, never used it again! 

What’s your backup plan?

The key with having a plan, is having a back-up.  If Plan A doesn’t work out, It’s too easy to give up.

The crazy thing is it doesn’t have to be anywhere near as intense to feel that same level of accomplishment;
Can’t manage 10k do a 1k run.
Can’t manage a 1k do a 4 minute circuit at home,
can’t manage a 4 minute circuit do 10 squats.

Just don’t quit!

Remember you want to keep it small and achievable. You want to keep up the momentum, not lose it!

Use people around you

There are so many opportunities to get involved in different activities. It’s all about putting your worries to one side and committing. It gives you a level of accountability.

A Rebel favourite; “Sign up now, worry about it later”

I needed some motivation to do stair sprints at Dunnottar, so I put it out there to see if anyone was keen!

Even if they weren’t, I had still posted that I was going to do it so felt more accountable.

Accountability can be a great tool.  If you need the support put yourself out there. Try to get people to join in or tell people what you are doing!

Don’t overthink it

It’s too easy to overthink what you are doing!

Take a step back, slow it down and just get on with it!

Trainer Alice wrote a really good blog called:  Have we lost the ability to run for the fun of it. It does a great job of highlighting the pressure we put on ourselves and how unnecessary it can be.

The less time you spend worrying and overthinking a problem, the quicker you are going to see the results you want to.

One of my favourite quotes by Ski & Snowboard filmmaker Warren Miller:

“If you don’t do it this year, you will be one year older when you do.”

Monitor your progress

Remember it’s not going to happen overnight!

It is important to be able to see where you are improving! This acts as a massive boost in motivation.

* NOTE* It’s not going to be a straight line going up. It’s a journey, there will be ups and downs. That’s normal, Just don’t quit.

If you don’t think you are quite where you should be, and think you are maybe missing something, speak to someone. Friends, a professional, do some research online.  Try to understand where it is you might be going wrong.

Realise those achievements are not always the goals you initially have in mind. Notice the other benefits you are getting. It’s not all about the time you knocked off your 10k:

  • It could be that your recovery time is slightly shorter than it used to be
  • You don’t lose your breath as quickly as before
  • You’ve maybe met some really great people
  • Had some really cool experiences
  • Feel better mentally than you have in a long time!

It’s just as important to take note and recognise these too!

Help Others

This is a biggy and another great way for you to put yourself out there!

If you can get a group of people to work together towards something you are way more likely to stick at it. There is someone to help you when you need a shove and you can help them when they need a push in the right direction.

It helps grow a stronger more passionate community and helps you all get results together.

Don’t compare yourself to others

Another biggy, It’s easy to look at someone who has what you want. It might be your first boot camp and you think everyone looks super fit. You don’t, however, know what they have been through.  No two fitness journey are the same, no one reacts the same to training. They may have most likely been training in one way or another for years.

It’s easy to think that they have it easier than you and that they are ‘just’ a natural but more likely than not they have been putting in the hard work at some stage of their life. Everyone goes at their own pace!

Don’t pay attention to others, concentrate on what you are doing and before you know it you’ll be one of those ‘fit’ people to someone else. Only this time you can support and help them to understand that it doesn’t quite work like that!

Reward yourself

Notice the fact that you are hitting your goals. It’s very easy to keep looking forward at what’s next and not recognising what you have accomplished.

This is a really important step. Like we mentioned before hitting goals takes time and effort. Don’t knock all the hard work you’ve put in so far. It always looks uphill when you’re looking at your next target!

Take note of where you started and where you are now!

Remember, your results might not always be physical or tangible it could just be the people you’ve met, the experiences you’ve had and the improvements in your mental state. These are all just as important.

Take time out

If it’s getting too much or you are starting to lose the enjoyment factor, just stop.

Take a break!

You have to look at why you are really doing what you’re doing! What are you trying to achieve?

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and sometimes you just need a little breather from it to recoup and figure things out before you jump straight back in!

Take a week off, relax for a few days! Speak to someone about it and figure out what’s next.

You may just need to shake up what you’re doing a little if it has become too repetitive. It’s all a normal part of the process!!

What do you do when motivation isn’t going in your favour?

It’s normal to have ups and downs. No one is 100% motivated 100% of the time!

If you are struggling, why not try to figure out what is holding you back…

  • Are you overcomplicating it?
  • Overthinking it?
  • Setting your goals to big?
  • Not enjoying what you are doing?
  • Doing it for the wrong reasons?

The best scenario is to put yourself out there and talk to those around you! Use them for support and make yourself accountable. Scale it right back, small steps and slowly start building it up again!

Most of all make sure that whatever it is you are trying to motivate yourself to do make sure you are doing it for the right reasons!

It’s not easy, take your time, you will get there and most of all enjoy the process!

How to build motivation back up

Step 1: Stop overthinking it: JUST DO IT!!

Step 2: Break it down into small manageable steps: What is the first smallest step you have to take, then what’s the next one.

Step 3: Be Realistic: Don’t be so over the top that what you want to achieve is too big a task.

Step 4: Support others and use the support of others: Helps hold you accountable and builds a positive community around you.

Step 5: Be happy you are taking steps in the right direction: You got this!

Interested in trying out Rebel?

At Rebel we always try to push you to get out of your comfort zone or support you in hitting those targets that you set yourself. If you’ve always struggled with being more active and want some support why not come down and have a free trial with us:

Click here for your free trial

We’d love to have you down. Any questions beforehand. Speak to Tom here