If the times of of low-motivation are frequent in your life it might be worth digging deeper and discovering why your motivation keeps fading. Different people will have different reasons for it. I’ve listed few major issue below. This list, by no means, is comprehensive but they are the most common issues I’ve come across with clients (or myself for that matter).
You are relying on outside sources for motivation
Now, I am sure I had to work hard to pull you out of your social media feed to read this blog. Even though the headline above promises to help you with your sometimes (or often) lacking motivation, most of us would just rather scroll the feed for pretty pictures with motivational quotes. We like those quotes with pretty pictures because we think that “maybe I don’t want this enough. Maybe arming myself with quotes and pretty pictures with oiled specimens is what gives me the kick in the ass that I need.”
No personal trainer or a fitness feed in social media can keep you motivated by pushing you into a certain direction. Another person can help you to find and unleash the motivation within you. But it is not something that is “done to you”. Rather, it is something “you do with a help from another person”. And it takes a helluva lot more than Internet memes. But again, nobody wants to do the work because… well, it’s work.
I get it, it’s effortless to scroll the photos. But here’s something that you probably know but don’t want to admit: they don’t work. Entertaining to read, yes. Effective for the long-term motivation, nope. As a matter of fact the photos might do the opposite by reducing your motivation. They make you feel you are too far from where you want to go to. Which leads us to our second point below.
You are trying to do something that is too far beyond your level of competence
If you’ve never done any training and jump straight into lifting four days a week, expect this to be hard. Now, if you fail to show up on the third day, you will feel as if you are failing because you are not getting done what you set out to do. Even though, despite missing one training session you are still doing way more than you did a week ago. Unfortunately we see what we are not doing and not what we are doing. I too know this from personal experiences.
If you’ve never eaten a carrot in your life but suddenly set a goal to eat 20 carrots a week it will be hard, maybe too hard. A better way to go about the change is to start where the new habit is just beyond your current level of competence. So instead of planning to eat 20 carrots or train four days per week, start with five carrots or two training sessions. You have to feel like you are winning. Things get unmotivational real fast if you are only moving from a failure to another.
When deciding on a new habit, I encourage you to pick something which you are at least 90% sure you can succeed with. Anything less than that and you are choosing a habit that is too hard, unless the stars perfectly align (which they never do). Your life, most likely, has other things going on as well as these changes with your health and fitness. You have a job, maybe you are a parent, you might even own a pet parrot that needs your attention. Can you succeed with your habit on days when your pet parrot is rattling it’s cage by doing somersaults and screaming profanities? I know I couldn’t. And I love parrots.
You are trying to do something that is dictated to you without you having a say
You want to personally feel responsible for your actions and behaviors. At the same time these behaviors need to be aligned with your values. There’s a fancy words for this: autonomy.
When a new client comes to me for advice I don’t handout a bible of diet rules to follow. This might work for a short-term but it rarely brings a long lasting solutions to the lifestyle. Doing this doesn’t have any autonomy build into it. I might have suggestions, but in the end the level of competence is chosen by the person doing the habit.
That’s why when I first meet a new client I like to ask what things do they value in life. This gives me an idea what drives their change. If you have a track record of stopping change before it even properly starts, you want to dig in to your values before starting yet another fitness plan.
Again, I’ve been there before. Trying to work towards a goal (and failing miserably) because it didn’t align with what I valued.
You are yet to discover why you want to accomplish what you set out to do
I’ve discussed this issue in length in the past and won’t beat the dead horse by repeating myself here. I’ll just say that you need to know why you are doing what you are doing. Your why is the main engine for your motivation. Start by asking yourself what makes you want to make these changes? And in what ways would your life be better if you made these changes?
Even with the above sorted, there will be times when motivation is not quite as crisp (or ripe) and ready for picking as it could be. During those times it’s good to build routines and habits into your daily life that can carry you through.