How many times a day do you mutter, “Where’s my motivation?” How often does it answer, “Yo. I’m over here.”? If your motivation does, you are 15 steps ahead of me. I know that it’s hard to find the get up and go to get up and go sometimes. I struggle with that on a daily basis. The problem is not finding your motivation, though- it’s maintaining it. It’s easy to find the motivation to make a change once or twice… but to do that consistently? Man.
Now I know you’ve had those moments, probably many, many, many times, where you’ve just had enough. You step off the scale and declare: “Today is a new day. I will not eat my kid’s Halloween candy. I will exercise. I will not drink more than 1 glass of wine tonight. Okay, maybe two. But still- I will be motivated!”
Or you see someone running outside and say out loud, “I wish I had that motivation.” and keep driving your car right through the drive thru.
Or you simply think that if you had the motivation, you would be able conquer the world!
What if I told you that motivation is simply a trick of the mind? An excuse? A scapegoat?
Well, friends, it is. Many people ask me where I get my motivation to work 3 (sometimes 4) jobs, cook for my family (I do pretty much daily), exercise, eat healthy, prepare my meals, be a decent mom, an okay wife, and a subpar per diem house cleaner? The answer is simple. I follow these 7 steps.
Step 1- Identify your why
Starting anything is easy and knowing why you want change is 95% of the battle. The first step to truly maintaining motivation through your journey is to write down why you started. Open up a Google Doc, find a sticky note, or simply pull out an old school marble notebook. Write down WHY you want to change. Don’t worry about the how. Don’t worry about the outcome. Don’t worry about the obstacles. Just why. This forces you to understand the underlying problems with your current lifestyle and knowing that there is a purpose to what you are doing.
Why shouldn’t be “to lose weight”. That’s a goal. No, you why should be anywhere from “I need to get healthy or I will have to take drugs for the rest of my life” to “living longer for my children” to “I need to be a better wife” to “I want to be a healthy role model for my kids”. It can be specific or vague, but your reason why has to be significant and meaningful or you won’t stick to it. Once you write this down, you should put it everywhere you possibly can. In your mirror. On your fridge. As the backdrop of your phone. On the Halloween candy container. Everywhere. The more you see it, the more you remember it.
Step 2- Be honest with yourself
This is so hard. People will tell you to keep a food journal… but I am here to tell you that that’s not enough. If you have a tendency to ignore small items you’ve eaten or you don’t measure out your portions, this will be a waste of your time. I’m a lot like that in the sense that if I don’t account for everything, I will not estimate very well. Same thing with my finances. If I don’t budget every single cent that I spend, I will likely go in the red. So when my calories are in the red, I will go back and change the portion or find a different food entry that matches my caloric needs. So I basically will use my food journal to lie to myself. Not very helpful. So, until I was brutally honest with myself, I was not accurately accounting for my behaviors.
The real motivation, however, comes from brutal honesty. If I realize that after my second glass of wine, I eat like a pig. I had to face the realization that my glass of wine was perfect for relaxation, but my second glass of wine wreaked havoc on my goals. So, after being brutally honest with myself, and facing something I would have never faced had I not HONESTLY looked at the choices I was making.
Step 3- Understand your path and embrace where you are
Sometimes you need to sit down and write what you’ve accomplished. You can take a piece of paper, fold it in half, at the top of one side write: Before this journey and at the top of the other: Now. This will do two things. This will allow you to face some of the demons or roadblocks you struggled with in the past and truly understand how you worked past them. You have already come a way, even if you’re on day two. Understand that you are on a journey to better yourself inside and out. To understand that will allow you to see past the scale, or past the setback, or past a missed workout. Only when a missed workout becomes 2-3 missed workouts does it become a problem.
So, understand where you’ve come from, how hard you’ve worked, and know that you do not want to start over. You do not want to be back here next year. You want to keep propelling forward, even if it means that you have to backtrack a few steps. Your journey is your journey alone and where you come from makes all the difference. Your path is yours alone and your purpose is only driven by you.
Step 4- Give yourself credit
This is likely the step I struggle the most with… I have a hard time giving myself credit. But, once I started, it became easier.
You need to allow yourself to make mistakes. Motivation often comes from success propelling success, but what happens when you don’t feel successful? What happens when you feel like you’re failing? You quit.
But I’m here to say, don’t quit. Instead, you have to give yourself credit for every single moment you made the right choice. Every single time you killed your workout. Every single time you drove past the drive-thru. Every victory is victory. Remember how much you have done and how far you have come. You made this choice. You and you alone. You decided that you wanted to be healthier and fitter. The choice that you made, even if you are struggling to stick with it, was a choice that was a good one. Give yourself the credit you deserve. Pat yourself on the back.
Step 5- Stop making and allowing excuses to dictate your life
Ouch. That one hurt. This probably should have been either number 1 or number 7. But I decided that this should be post number 5, just because. Here’s the thing: I’m queen of excuses. I have called myself on that in the past and I have always allowed excuses to get in my way. I have a thyroid disorder, I’m tired, I am in pain, I… I… I… But the reality is that excuses are the vehicle to your own pity party- and no one’s showing up to that. Trust me. In order to truly be motivated to change, you have to remind yourself that the reasons you are justifying your lack of drive are just excuses.
I used to allow other’s judgement of me (or so I thought it was judgement, it was really me judging myself… but that’s for another day) to stop me from achieving what I wanted to do. I also used to allow my kids to be a crutch, my mood, my illness, my busy life, my husband… you name it, I’ve blamed it. But until we really become honest with ourselves (throw back to step 2, here) we will not really be able to make a lasting change.
So, write down all of your excuses, cross them out, and put them where you will be reminded that they are getting in your way.
Step 6- Surround yourself with people who get it
Part of finding your mojo is finding the people who are mojoing with you. I know that’s not technically a word, but if you think about how you are affected by the people around you, you realize that your mood can often be altered with the positive vibes of a lifelong friend. The same can be said for the negative vibes of people in your life. It may not be possible to just stop talking to Aunt Irma or totally cut your boss out of your life, but you can effectively change your circle by adding more positive people who ‘get it’ to it.
You could also sign someone on to ‘get it’ like your spouse or sister or dog. The point is that you have to have people around you that you can depend on; both good and bad days. You have to have people who want to hear your story, who want to help you motivate. Not people who tell you it’s okay to give up or that make you feel that you are not worthy of this change.
There are many people who will tell you what you think you need to hear and not the truth, too. Those people mean well, but they can be dangerous. You need people who are willing to listen, help you reason through the feelings, This is why success partners, challenge groups, and social media are tremendously helpful when you are taking on any journey. Once you recruit the right people, you become a team, and you are unstoppable.
Step 7- Choose a mantra based on your goals
And say it over, and over, and over again. Mine, as of late, has been from Sommer Tucker: “Each choice you make will either lead your closer to or farther from your goals.” I know that’s a long one, but all I say to myself is “Closer or farther, Claire?” Sometimes out loud. (Reminder, this is about motivation, not about senility.) There are so many mantras you can pick, depending on your need for motivation. If it is motivation to keep you nutrition on point, find a quote by someone you admire and keep repeating it (like mine). If it’s to keep moving, maybe “Just keep swimming” (song and all) would be a perfect fit. If it’s to make a difficult choice, “Be the Change”. There are always mantras that can further your goals.
By having a conversation with yourself, you are addressing the choice before you make it. You are calling yourself out before it’s too late.
And much like finding your why and writing that down, identifying your goals is the ultimate motivator. By addressing what you want to do, how you plan to do it, and why you are going to do it is the first step. Finding mantras and putting them everywhere (think fridge, mirror, notebook, laptop, Facebook, etc.) right next to your whys, crossed out excuses, and goals will remind you when you have a hard time reminding yourself.
Motivation is the vehicle for your success and self love is the fuel. You find your determination when you realize why you need to make your change. And that will make you unstoppable.