Motivation is a lie! Motivation isn’t what gets you up in the middle of winter to train when it’s freezing and dark outside. And when I ask clients to explain what motivation is, they tell me it's that feeling that makes you 'want' to do something.
I call bullshit on this. My cynicism denies it exists, and if it does, it's not as an emotion that removes difficulty or discomfort to enable you to 'want' to do something.
I don't give credit to motivation being the driving force behind turning up at a training session when you don’t feel like it. People continue to exercise even when they don’t 'want' to be there. I wouldn’t say they turn up because they’re motivated – I'd say they're disciplined, perhaps or even just consistent.
So why all this focus on motivation then, assuming it has to 'arrive', before you can tackle your goals? We all know individuals who accomplish quite confronting challenges and do so regularly. They achieve a lot. What’s the difference then, between people that struggle and those that can create success stories?
For a start, the success stories I know don’t wait for motivation. They create clear, detailed goals and plans to get them started ASAP instead of waiting for something mysterious to make them feel like taking action. These clients know what they want and then plan exactly what they need to do to achieve their dream.
What if you've been missing out on reaching your goals because you have been waiting for a fictional external stimulator to help you?
I think we’ve all been a little misled about the role motivation has on influencing success.
For example, think about an experience when you’ve had a deadline – and you weren’t motivated to complete your task ahead of the due date, so you procrastinated. When the time limit loomed, you did it. You didn’t need motivation. You had a clear goal with a deadline.
Goal setting, when done properly, helps you to achieve more. Understanding the basic psychology behind it also helps you create an unfair advantage for yourself.
Years ago, I noticed a real difference in results between clients who took part in my training programs that had goal setting coaching attached to them and those that didn’t. There is a real psychological benefit to specific goal setting work. A clear, well-planned goal leads to a proactive plan you can follow that keeps you on track and accountable. You create an ongoing ‘winning’ mindset by achieving small goals. You will also reach your big goal faster because you’re not trying to work things out as you go.
Clear, precise goals are necessary to guide you from struggle to success. The mindset behind a goal is a fascinating.
This is what happens when you do the work to create a detailed plan.
You create a new identity
Do you know how powerful your brain is? By starting the process to establish a meaningful goal, your brain will respond to this stimulus by accepting it as part of your ‘self’ almost immediately. Your mind cannot differentiate between what you want and what you already have so it believes that what you’re choosing to aim for is already part of who you are.
That means the moment you establish a clear goal, your brain responds by absorbing the desired outcome into your self-image. Tension forms as your mind reacts to the difference between your reality and your ideal goal. Action begins when your brain works to resolve this tension.
Create an explicit, exciting goal that has a positive impact on your current self. *Please note, losing weight is neither precise nor interesting. You deserve much more than that.
Would you like a reward with that?
Your brain loves you. And when you do good things for yourself, it rewards you by releasing dopamine! Dopamine reinforces a positive situation your brain likes and its’ sole purpose is to make you feel great. When you feel great, you are more likely to repeat the same action. It’s no coincidence that achieving what our brain wants us to do makes us feel amazing.
Ensure you get this reward by setting small, regular goals you can accomplish. Begin by planning something so simple, you’re tempted to laugh at writing it down as an achievement. But you’ll have the last laugh. You are creating a positive reward cycle for yourself, and that keeps you ‘motivated’ to continue towards your big goal.
So WHY do goals create success stories?
Think back to the times when you’ve had a goal in the past. Was what you wanted to achieve clear, specific and exciting? And did you know why you wanted it? Were the precise actions you needed to take to achieve your goal, mapped out in advance?
Can’t think of anything? You have done it before, but you may not have thought about it in these terms. A general situation we can all relate to is schooling. The goal is to graduate your last year of school to get into further education (even if this wasn’t your goal, stay with me here). To graduate, you must complete all the years that go beforehand. And each year, there is a range of subjects with a series of assessments and projects to for completion over the term. Are you motivated? I wasn’t. I turned up and followed the plan to achieve success.
Your goal doesn’t have to be that long term or detailed at all. Schooling is just an example of the fact you have followed a plan to achieve a goal.
Goals need to clarity and specificity. Be able to acknowledge what you want in life and from yourself to create a success story.
How does writing goals down improve the outcome for you?
Thinking about a goal is nice. But it’s easy to forget them or to procrastinate and get side-tracked. It’s easy to push thoughts aside and deal with work or family or anything else at all.
Seeing your words written in front of you cements your ideas, consolidates your thoughts and helps your mind to visualise the task you’re striving to achieve.
Writing things down also helps you to process your ideas and remember what you’re doing so your brain can create that connection to the new self-image you’re honing.
Your desire to do something strengthens when you visualise what you want to achieve.
You need a clear, compelling goal to work towards. Investing the time to clarify and explore what your goal means to you will solidify your desire to get something done and create the passion and excitement to achieve your objective.
A clear goal will help you tap into the additional resources you need; like that extra ‘push’ to get going on dark morning, initiative, and a keen willingness to take the necessary actions to reach your target. Written, clear goals help establish a sense of purpose by determining the steps you need to take and setting deadlines. You know what you need to do; so schedule it, and do it.
How do you start?
- Set a goal. Not just any goal. But a kick-ass goal. Then break it down and make it several smaller goals. Bite sized chunks make it easier to swallow and achieving goals, regardless of size, will keep your motivation high.
- Don’t stop before the finish line. Push through until you cross the line. Develop the habit of completing what you start.
- Connect with like-minded winners. Attitudes are contagious.
- Act. Stop procrastinating. Momentum demands movement. Get started.
- Tools - like the FITNESS GPS program I've created, help you get all the specifics clear before you start. Find out more here.
eFIT 30 - Fit That Works
A quality training program will help transform you in unimaginable ways.
We don't know what your before and after picture should look like. We're not here to tell you who or what you should be. We are here to provide expert guidance, backed up with knowledge and the tools you'll need to succeed.