Today’s topic is motivation and finding your why. Something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a while now.
Motivation is in general looked down upon by even so-called motivational pages. You hear quotes like:
“Motivation is temporary. Discipline is permanent. And discipline is what gets you to your goals.”
This is something very prevalent in fitness circles as well. But it’s difficult to really figure out what you should do to be more disciplined; why motivation doesn’t work. And what even is motivation when people are talking about it.
So here is a dictionary definition of motivation. This is from dictionary.com:
the act or an instance of motivating, or providing with a reason to act in a certain way.
the state or condition of being motivated or having a strong reason to act or accomplish something.
Sounds about right.
So why is motivation something that’s considered fleeting?
It’s possibly because motivation has a very surface level definition in the heads of most people.
When people think of motivation in terms of losing weight. They think of being motivated to stick to a certain diet, being motivated to get to the gym, to do their workouts. Being motivated to eat more protein, to move more throughout the day.
So it’s the motivation they connect with their day-to-day actions which they’re talking about. And not motivation which stems from a deeper place.
That’s what we are going to talk about today. Motivation does have a place in your fitness regime and in your goal setting process. Be it related to your weight loss, be it related to any other goals that you have currently in life.
At least that’s my personal take on it.
And I’m going to talk about how you can channel this to make it easy for yourself to reach your goals in a more efficient and effective manner.
So let’s get started.
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The prime drive for any of our actions stems from a core place. It always stems from something which is deep within.
And until we reflect upon it and write things down on paper. We are not able to discover what it is that drives us towards wanting to achieve something.
When you talk about wanting to achieve weight loss goals, why do you want to do that?
This reason could vary wildly between people. There could be people who want to lose weight because they want to feel more confident in their bodies.
There could be people who want to lose weight so they could feel more attractive; they could feel more desirable.
There could be people who want to lose weight because they have been suffering from lifestyle conditions for long. Their blood markers are off. Their doctors are telling them to lose weight.
They want to feel healthier. That is another reason.
There could be people who want to participate in more active hobbies. They want to go hiking on the weekend. They want to participate in a marathon. But these activities currently seem out of reach because they don’t have the body for it right now.
They’re just not able to keep up with activities which require a lot of physical effort.
So there could be different reasons which are pushing you towards achieving your weight loss goals.
But the reasons also stem from a place even deeper than that. And in order to find those reasons, here’s an exercise that I want you to do.
This exercise is known as the ‘5 Why’s Exercise’.
So, you’d ask yourself the question ‘why?’ five times, till you get to the root desire, the root reason, the root motivation, for your actions.
This is a very good exercise for solving any kind of logical problem that you might have at the moment; or any kind of engineering problem.
So if your car is not working, you could ask:
“Why is my car not starting?”
Then you could get to something like:
“It’s because my engine is malfunctioning. Why is my engine malfunctioning?”
Then dig deeper till you find the main root cause of the problem.
And you can use this same method for the purpose that we are using it right now i.e., to discover the core motivation behind your actions.
I recommend you keep a piece of paper in front of you so that you can write things down.
Here’s what it could sound like.
“I want to lose weight.”
Why do you want to lose weight?
“I want to lose weight because I’d like to fit into certain outfits that I’m not able to wear at the moment.”
Why do you want to wear those outfits?
“Because I think it would make me feel happy.”
Why do you think fitting into those outfits will make you feel happy?
“It will bring me happiness because it will make me feel more attractive. It’ll make me feel more desirable.”
Why do you want to feel more attractive and desirable?
“I want to feel more attractive because it will increase my confidence.”
Why do you want to feel more confident?
“I want to feel more confident because it will let me do things that I’m scared to do right now. It’ll let me try things which I am afraid to try at the moment. And it will let me live my life to the full potential that I’m capable of.”
So you can see that something as simple as losing weight could stem from a deeper motivation of wanting to live life to your fullest potential.
Unless and until you’re able to dig deeper into understanding the reason behind your actions, you will always be at a surface level.
Some people just stay at that level itself.
“I want to lose weight. I just want to get rid of this weight somehow.”
And there’s no further motivation that they’re aware of.
That’s why people have these fleeting moments when they suddenly want to lose weight. Then the motivation goes away. Then it comes back.
And then you hear others saying things like:
“You cannot rely on your motivation because it is fleeting. You have to rely on being disciplined.”
When people are saying quotes like that, they’re usually talking of this surface level of motivation.
We are going to explore some connected topics.
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When we’re talking of finding the deeper reason. We’re talking about core values.
All of us throughout our lives, have been shaped by our environment and by the people around us. We have developed certain values that we hold in higher regard over others.
And these values could be different for different people.
Without having an awareness of what our own core values are, it becomes very hard to make decisions while going about our day-to-day lives. And also while making decisions which lead us towards our long-term goals.
That’s why you’d see a lot of people dissatisfied with their lives; dissatisfied with the kind of position they are in currently.
Although someone else may feel very happy, very satisfied in the same position as them.
It’s usually because both these people have different sets of core values.
In order to give you some more clarity. Here are some core values that I have listed by Googling ‘core values list’.
Some examples of core values could be: family, freedom, security, loyalty, intelligence, connection, creativity, humanity, success, respect.
Now all of these values are things which are desirable. But there are certain values which we hold in higher regard relative to the others.
And there are usually at most three to five values which will be of maximum importance to you personally.
Your goal is to figure out your individual core values.
In order to make this easy for you, here is a core values test that you can take.
Your core values can change throughout your life. They can change multiple times during the year even, depending on how much your life changes. Depending on what life events happen.
I would recommend you to repeat this exercise once or twice a year, so that you are always aware of what’s driving you during that particular phase in life.
Once you have become aware of these values, how do you use it in an actionable way to drive your decision-making or goal-setting process?
Before we delve into that, here is a quote by Simon Sinek:
“There are two ways to influence human behavior. You can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
Manipulating your own behaviour; manipulating yourself to do certain things because those things are good for you, is not a long-term sustainable strategy.
So if you make yourself eat in a certain manner; make yourself do all the hard work at the gym. But you have to constantly manipulate your own behaviour in order to be able to do those things.
That will not last long.
You could push yourself to be disciplined; to be extremely driven during times when you have less stress in your life.
But when you are highly stressed; when you are not in that position to make decisions which you don’t want to make. It’s going to be hard for you to stick to the process if you don’t have a system which lets you maintain things long-term.
So manipulation is not a long-term strategy.
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If you want to maintain permanent results, you need to understand the core of the problem.
So instead of relying on manipulation, you want to rely on inspiration to influence your own behaviour. This is where your value system comes in.
As you’re making decisions throughout the day, there are always choices that you have to make. And different choices lead you in different directions.
So our entire lives; your entire life, my entire life, until this very point, is the cumulative result of all the micro-choices that we have made every single day, every single hour, up to this point.
If you had made different choices throughout your life up to this point. You would probably have been in a different place.
It could have been a better place; it could have been a worse place.
So everything is dependent on the micro-choices you make throughout the day. When you’re faced with a choice; when you’re faced with two options to pick from. How do you know which choice is the better one for you?
This is where your value system comes into the picture.
This weekend, if you have two choices to make:
“Should I go out with my friends for partying? Or should I stay home to rest and recover?”
Neither of these choices is right or wrong.
The correct choice for you would be the one which is in alignment with your core values.
So if you have ‘Friendship’ higher up in your list, the right choice for you to make would be to go out with friends and have a good time.
But on the other hand, if your core value is ‘Self-care’, you would probably make the choice of staying home; resting and recovering. So that you can tackle the next week better.
It could also be something like having ‘Success’ as a higher core value over ‘Friendship’.
In order to be more successful, you’d have to be more productive. And in order to be more productive, you will have to be rested and well recovered. So you will pick the other choice.
The right choice completely depends on what your core values are.
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Other people cannot define what your core values should be.
It is up to you to decide what’s going to give you greater satisfaction. Because if you keep making choices which others think are correct, but which don’t align with your values. It’s going to become very difficult for you to sustain this long-term.
Plus you will not derive satisfaction from it.
This is why I have problems with people trying to enforce certain body standards on others saying things like:
“Everybody should aspire to be healthy. Everyone should aspire to be of a certain body type. People are lazy, which is why they’re out of shape.”
That’s not always the case.
Some people just don’t keep these things in high regard.
For some people, health is not a core value. And it is not for us to determine what their core values should be.
It is for us to become aware of what our own core values are and to make decisions in alignment with those values.
If you’re someone reading this. I’m assuming that a core value of yours is something related to you losing weight; you being in better shape.
It could be something like confidence. It could be something like success. It could be really anything.
And different people have a different reason, a different driver for why they want to achieve their weight loss goals.
In order to understand the reason for your own goals, you have to first figure out where your core values stem from. And then use them to make the micro-choices that you have to make on a day-to-day basis.
Because ultimately where you will be five years from now, 10 years from now, will be dependent on the choices you make every day; every hour of the day.
“Which of these choices aligns with my core values? Which of these choices will give me greater satisfaction in the long run?”
When you’re able to repeat this process over and over and build a knack for making choices which align with your personal values; align with your core values. It’s going to make it much easier for you to sustain that motivation and drive in the long run.
And you’ll not have to rely on manipulating your own behaviour in order to achieve your goals.
To end this post, here is another quote from Simon Sinek:
“For values or guiding principles to be truly effective they have to be verbs. It’s not “integrity,” it’s “always do the right thing.” It’s not “innovation,” it’s “look at the problem from a different angle.” Articulating our values as verbs gives us a clear idea – we have a clear idea of how to act in any situation.”
If you have been trying to reach your weight loss goals for a while now, but are struggling a bit in the process.
It’s probably because of a lack of consistency, a lack of guidance or a lack of support.
If you’d like a 24×7 support system to hold your hand and guide you through the process till you get to your goals, you should consider 1-on-1 coaching with Workday Physique.