It’s the question that I’ve been asked countless times over the last 30 years, which is roughly how long I’ve been committed to eating well and prioritizing exercise.
My answer: “I don’t always stay motivated.”
Sure, I exercise often, shop for, prepare, and consume healthy food, go to bed early on the reg, and get in a ton of non-exercise movement all because they are necessary in order for me to feel my very best. Whether or not motivation shows up is completely irrelevant to me.
Let me explain…
Motivation is Not Required for Success
Motivation is nothing more than the desire to do something; not some crucial ingredient for success.
If motivation is simply a desire to do something, then lack of motivation only means that you don’t feel like doing something.
Whether or not you feel motivated actually shouldn’t matter, because here is the thing: motivation is a sneaky snake that makes his own rules. You simply can not sit around and wait on his ass before taking action, or you might be waiting your entire life, because there is no guarantee when or where he’ll make an appearance.
The most successful people I know are the ones that have continued to take action and persevere when motivation was nowhere to be found.
When it comes to making healthy choices with nutrition, exercise, or any other area of life, many people rely far too heavily on motivation before they get the job done. What I mean by this is that often times people will use a lack of motivation as an excuse not to do something that they know they need to do.
“I’m not exercising because I don’t feel motivated”, or “I’m not eating healthy because I don’t feel motivated.”
<<TOUGH LOVE ALERT>>
I’m going to say something blunt in response to your not feeling motivated, so buckle up: so what?
Unless your lack of motivation changed your goals or desired outcome, it doesn’t matter if you are motivated or not. You take care of business.
If I waited for motivation to show up before I nourished my body with healthy foods, I would still be living on chocolate cake donuts and Mountain Dew like I did when I was 14 years old. Your health does not give a damn if you are motivated or not; it needs to be taken care of. All throughout our lives, we have to do things that we aren’t going to want to do. I never feel like paying my mortgage, doing my laundry, or taking a shower (for real, though), but I do them all anyways. If I want a place to live, fresh clothes to wear, and a clean body then I have got to do the required tasks, regardless of whether I feel like doing them or not.
The Antidote to a Lack of Motivation is Action.
I recently read Mark Manson’s book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*&%”, and in it he shares the following:
Action ==> Inspiration ==> Motivation
What does this mean exactly? It means that the first step to accomplishing something is not relying on motivation in order to get started; it’s taking action.
Do something, anything, to move you closer to your goal.
If the goal is to clean your house, simply wipe down the counters. If the goal is to start lifting weights, go to the gym and do a few sets of bicep curls and then leave. If the goal is to exercise consistently, walk out your front door and go for a 20-minute walk. It doesn’t matter how small the action is, but do something that moves you in the right direction.
By taking the smallest positive action you’ll be able to harness the juicy feeling of pride that comes from doing something and use it as a form of inspiration to spark motivation, which acts as a nice supplement for continued action-taking.
Then, you ride that action-taking momentum into taking more action, which leads to more inspiration, which will likely cause motivation.
A lack of motivation is not what is standing between you and your goals; inaction is.
Here’s an example: you have zero motivation (i.e., desire) to go exercise, but you have goals to achieve which are important to you. You go ahead and take action. You do your workout anyways, regrdless of your lack of desire to do so. You end up feeling super proud of yourself for going and getting the job done, which is wildly inspiring to you, and motivates you to go again tomorrow to chip away at it some more.
When motivation is missing, the antidote is taking any action that is a step in the right direction. This way, you can capitalize on your action-taking momentum, which will further propel you forwards.
Am I actually suggested that you force yourself to move your body often, exercise enough, get plenty of sleep, eat delicious and nourishing foods, and get lots of daily movement? Yes. Yes, I am, because I want you to feel your very best whether motivation shows up or not … and it truly might not.
Yes, it’s going to feel uncomfortable. It’s going to require a pretty solid dose of activation energy, which can feel really hard, but know this – taking action gets easier with consistency. And when was the last time that you regretted taking a step in the right direction? I’m willing to bet never.
The next time you are temped not to do something due to lack of motivation even though you know it’s important, try this little experiment:
Rather than saying, “I don’t feel motivated to do it”, try saying, “I just don’t feel like doing it”, and see how that lands with you. That simple change in perspective can be a game-changer. By saying you just don’t feel like doing something, you are accepting responsibility for your inaction simply because you don’t wanna. ::foot stomp::
Which is fine. If you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. But own it completely rather than trying to shirk responsibility, and make motivation take the blame.
When motivation is missing, the antidote is taking any action that is a step in the right direction, and then capitalizing on that momentum.
Inaction feels easy and comfy, but it’s rarely ever helpful.