Motivation, Part Deux

Last October, I wrote another post about motivation.

The other day, I read a great article written by a colleague of mine about the same subject.  It gave me enough fodder to spur me into writing this follow-up.

The important distinction this individual made was in articulating what we mean when we say motivation, because we really use it a couple ways.

The first way we use it is the way we should – as our reason for doing something.  Motivation a simple explanation for why you want something.  “I want food because I’m hungry.”  Hunger is your motivation.  And whether what you want is a slimmer body, a new job or a happy marriage, motivation is simply the reason you want those things.

The second way we use it is where we run into trouble.  A lot of people view motivation as an emotion, or a feeling.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that they don’t “feel” motivated.  What they really mean is that they’re not elated to be doing something, not that they don’t have a reason.  Odds are they know exactly what their motivation is, but they’re short on excitement, will power, etc.

I’ll have to credit the guy who wrote the article that inspired this post, Mike Starks (CEO of a nutrition company called Meal Movement), especially because he provided a great fitness analogy, and I love me some good analogies.  Here it is:

“I believe that good health practices should be part of every day life…like brushing your teeth(…) If exercise and eating requires excitement or strong will power it will not be sustained.”

Mr. Starks couldn’t be more right.

No one, and I mean no one, sustains feelings for the long haul.  If you’re like me, your feelings about any given thing probably change a few dozen times before lunch every day.  Not like me?  Well, congrats on that, but I think you get my drift.

Feelings are fleeting.  Habits can last forever.

That’s why I love the brushing your teeth analogy.  How many times have you brushed your teeth when you’d have rather just crashed into bed for the evening?  Yet, on all but the most extreme occasions, you do it anyway.  Why?  Well, I hope it’s not for your enjoyment, as that would indicate that you lead a very dull life.  You’re probably motivated by the same reasons I am – you don’t like the idea of spending hours upon hours in a dentist’s chair, or the idea of being ostracized for having awful breath and yellow teeth…  maybe you just don’t have dental insurance; I don’t know.  All I know is, however you feel about brushing your teeth on a given day, you do it anyway.

Exercise should be the same way.  It should be a habit that you just do, even though you won’t always be super gung-ho about it.  Believe me, whatever your specific motivation may be, the larger obstacle you must overcome is developing a habit that will last.  Yes, habits can occasionally be boring and tedious.  The sooner you make your peace with that, the sooner you’ll stop buying fitness DVDs from idiots like Shaun T.  And yes, doing a workout isn’t as easy as brushing your teeth, but people still do it.  Usually it’s the ones who understand the power of a good habit.

The ones who don’t?  Usually they’re the ones who are waiting tofeel motivated.

Long story short – stop feeling, start doing.  Find something that you can turn into a habit and stick to it for more than a few months.

‘Til next time!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Motivation, Part Deux

  1. Amber

    Love it! Thanks for the reminder on… “Stop feeling, start doing”! I needed that! Those words, hopefully will be going through my head when I am ‘feeling’ unmotivated. Although, aren’t you being a little presumptuous on how often we brush our teeth?! : )

  2. Jody

    This was great Mark; I’m trying to figure out how to send it to my friends without them thinking I am implying they need to start working out! :/ Thanks for sharing!

  3. Sherri

    Excellent tips on motivation – I finally am starting to have regular exercise habits – my body even wakes up with no alarm at 5:30am on Mon, Wed and Fri ready for classes! Thanks for the encouragement.

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