How many times do you find yourself wanting, no needing, to do something, but not doing it? You know, when motivation to do it is just not there. It’s on the to-do list everyday and somehow gets punted to the next…and the next..
You find yourself playing the check email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest – and repeat game. Click Refresh… Click Refresh… Click Refresh…
You do laundry, get a haircut, organize your desk…etc, etc.
All to avoid doing it.
You fill your day up with trivial things that keep you busy and end up missing the crucial things that matter most.
Stephen Covey called these tasks “Important but not Urgent”. These are the actions we need to take that serve our long term goal, but in the short term, can be put off. And going to the gym is one of those things.
Sometimes we go through periods where we just don’t feel like it. Zero motivation. We crave those times where we have that fire in our bellies. Where we have energy to get sh*t done. But when the fire isn’t there we have long periods of inaction and little progress. Or worse, we move backwards…
So *what if* we could turn on our motivation? What if we could go from lazy and indifferent to kicking ass and taking names…at will?
Well, studies on the brain have recently discovered a way to hack the system.
Ya see, your motivation actually happens on a chemical level through what’s commonly called the “pleasure chemical”: Dopamine. “Low levels of dopamine make people and other animals less likely to work for things, so it [dopamine] has more to do with motivation than pleasure itself.”
Scientists have found that when our brains perceive a task to be vital, it releases dopamine to “turn us on” to get motivated and take action.
Every time you achieve something you brain releases dopamine and that is why accomplishment (say, a new PR) actually feels so good.
And increased dopamine levels means we will exert more effort to complete a task in the future.
So researchers found a way to actually cultivate motivation in anyone by doing two things:
1. Set one small task you know you can do each day.
Instead of trying to get motivated for big scary tasks that you keep putting off (like losing 20lbs) divide it into something much smaller that you can knock out much easier.
If going to the gym is hard, tell yourself you’re going to do 20 push-ups before you get in the shower in the morning.
If running 3 miles is daunting, tell yourself you’re going to run one time around the block.
If you struggle to eat well, tell yourself you’re going to at least have one big salad each day.
By cutting down lofty goals into small actions you can easily achieve, your brain will begin seeing each one as a victory and your brain will begin to release more and more dopamine and therefore increase your motivation which will in turn help you take on bigger actions towards your goal.
2. Whatever you’re avoiding, force yourself to do it in a short spurt.
If you hate the gym, perhaps it’s because you picture the long hours you have to put in. Instead use a timer, tell yourself I’m going to the gym but I’m only giving myself 20 minutes before I HAVE to leave. This will make the task easy to knock out and from personal experience, being able to do something at least for short spurts when you’re not feeling like it, will begin to create more motivation to do the task in the future.
And to add to that, treat each day as it’s own.
Do not worry about what you did in the past.
Do not concern yourself with the work you have to do in the future.
Often your lack motivation is because of your guilt about how you’ve messed up (in the last few weeks, months, or years) or your perception of the work we need to do tomorrow. But you only need to be motivated enough to do what needs doing today.
Tomorrow you will concern yourself about tomorrow.
And with that I’ll leave you with one of my favorite movie quotes. It’s from We Bought a Zoo:
“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
Workout of the Day:
Four Rounds on the 2:30
10 Plyo Push Ups
200m Oh Plate Carry 45/25
12 Toes to Bar
20minutes to Complete
4×5 Back Squat
3×8 Press from Squat