written by BRICE HOGAN | MOTIVATION, HABITS
Have you ever noticed that it's difficult to be motivated most of the time?
Motivation is overrated in my opinion anyway. I know there are going to be a lot of people who disagree with that statement, but it's true.
In fact, right now as I'm writing this article, I'm not in the best frame of mind and far from motivated to. Yet, here I am doing it. Why?
We all have days where we don't feel motivated to show up and our energy and emotions are in the gutter.
It could be going to the gym. There will be times you don't want to drive your kids to soccer practice. It could be you have a work project you don't want to take on.
We all have those "off days" it's part of the ebb and flow of life and finding a way to deal with it is key.
Developing a framework for when you are not motivated is going to help you deal with those lackluster days.
Motivation Doesn't Matter
Motivation is unreliable because it is based on how you feel.
Our feelings are subject to a lot of different things.
You had a great day at work and so you come home motivated to help your wife make dinner.
Your favorite song is playing on the radio on your way home from work and when you get home your taking the family out.
You wake up thinking about all the work you have to get done and how it's going to take forever instead of being able to watch the football game that night.
Your child comes home and says he's failing his math class and now you have to have to talk to his teacher.
See how feelings can affect your motivation. When our energy is up it's pretty easy to feel motivated to get things done. If our energy is down or we don't feel like doing something it's most likely not going to get done.
So relying solely on our motivation to get things done won't cut it when aren't having our best day. We have to find a way to get stuff done without feeling motivated too.
What I've Learned from Excercise about Getting Motivated.
In 2010 I had a physical with my doctor. I knew I wasn't eating the way I should and was out of shape.
I was shocked when he told me that I had to start statin drugs because I had really high cholesterol. I went home thinking I can't do this for the rest of my life.
So I have spent the last 12 years dedicating myself to getting in shape. I went to the gym, tried to eat better, ran, rowed. I spent the time necessary to lose 20lbs and get off the medication and more importantly I felt better.
There are a lot reasons for my transformation (effort, work ethic, and so on) but there is one thing I learned over that period of time I wish I had learned earlier...
A game plan, a routine that allowed me to go to the gym or exercise whether I felt motivated or not...
Why Routines Short Circuit Your Motivation In A Good Way
Have you noticed in sports how athletes have these quirky little routines? Do you wonder why? In the NFL they play 16 games a year plus the playoffs. In the NHL or NBA its around 80 games. Major League Baseball its 162 games.
With as many games as these athletes play do you think it's easy to stay motivated every day? There is no way. There is too much going on in life and there will always be days when it's a grind.
Now I'm not a professional athlete by any stretch of the imagination, but having a routine makes it much easier when I am not feeling up to it.
Most professional athletes have a "pre-game" workout where they put on some headphones, run around the field and do some stretching, others might practice shooting 100 free throws. Point is they are getting into the right frame of mind to perform.
On those days they don't feel like playing they use a routine to "short-circuit" their motivation so they can perform at the level for that game.
A routine is meant to put you into the right mental state, regardless if you feel crappy or on top of the world. Having a process to overcome your lack of motivation will lead to more consistency in your work, exercise, study, or other areas you want to get better at.
The 3 Steps To Building a Strong Routine
Step 1: Lower the bar. Make doing something so easy that you don't need the motivation to do it.
I have a push-up routine every day. My goal is to do 100 pushups in a row, but my minimum is 10. What I find is that it takes very little motivation for me to do 10, but when I get started I realize I can do far more than I initially planned.
My writing routine. Simple write 50 words. Again it doesn't take long for me to write 50 words usually less than 5 minutes, but as I start writing more and more comes to me, and the more and more I write.
Lower the bar or the thresh hold for starting. You won't need motivation you just start and then momentum carries you the rest of the way.
If your goal is to start exercising, and you don't feel like making the low bar put on your exercising clothes or do one push-up.
For the importance of getting started, read this
Step 2 Create Movement Have you noticed the more you move the more engaged you are?
Think about when you are tired, lazy or feeling depressed. Do you feel motivated? Probably not.
It's because when we are not moving the hormones in our brains that are responsible for us feeling happy or energized are not activated.
Dr Andrew Huberman from Stanford talks a lot about movement, and even more importantly getting light into our eyes. When we do our body releases epinephrine and dopamine which causes us to feel more energetic and happy. (1)
The earlier in the day these things happen the more effective you will be in establishing your routine.
Step 3 Follow a Pattern
The reason for a pre-game routine is that it creates a repeatable pattern of success. Here is the effect. The routine is telling your mind, " Here is what it's going to happen when I do ___________."
What the pattern or the routine is doing is creating a reminder for you so when you start the routine it triggers the habit that will help you do it whether you are motivated or not.
This is important because when you don't feel motivated, you need that trigger to remind you that you don't need to feel good, to begin with, you start the routine and it helps ramp up the emotional willpower for you to succeed.
Building Routines Motivates Success
If you only worked when you felt motivated more than likely you are not going to be consistent enough to achieve your goal.
That's why pros are pros they have the ability to create these small routines and habits that overcome even the slightest hitch in being unmotivated.
Small routines help in the daily battles of life, with them you will continue a slow march toward your end goal.
Patterns that you repeat every day will form the foundational identity of who you want to become and the actions you take.
That is why it's critical to have a pre-game routine or something repetitive that makes it easy to overcome the inertia of not being motivated.
The paradox of motivation is that you have to be able to use a routine when you aren't motivated to get motivated.