Motivation and Exercise

If you rely solely on motivation to carry you forward, to propel you closer to your objectified finish line, disappointment is your likely greeting party.

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Let’s check this scenario out for familiarity. You wake up in the morning, motivated to go to the gym and get in a good work out. First, however, you feel compelled to check your email. You find that there are a few items that you just have to attend to that cannot wait or life as you know it may come to an end. Two hours later, you complete your responses and maybe you can squeeze in that workout. But now, you aren’t motivated to do so. You think maybe later. The day progresses, evening comes and with it the realization that you have once again failed to get to the gym. Is this relatable?

Motivation ebbs and flows. The reality is that no matter how motivated we are or how committed, there will be lulls. How we maintain momentum during those periods of waning motivation greatly impacts the eventual outcome.

There is a secret sauce and that sauce is ritual. Sounds weird I know, but let me explain. Ritual turns motivation into habit. Habit energy is strong and is rarely susceptible to the ebb and flow pattern described above. So, to return to my earlier illustration of going to the gym, if your ritual is to get up at 5am and go straight to the gym every weekday, then you are less dependent on motivation and more on ritual. It is only a small change that is required. It means moving from being motivated to find time each day to work out, which is aspirational to a ritual of starting everyday by getting up and pulling on the exercise clothes and hitting the gym, which is habitual.