Thursday, January 12, 2012

Motivation or Follow-Through?

So I woke up today feeling very under the weather.  I have a really sore throat and my lungs just hurt.  It hurts to swallow and talk (which, for me, is difficult to keep from doing most of the time) and my body aches.  Yuck. 

It's 3:30 PM and I finally forced myself to drink water, eat some oatmeal with a sliced banana, and a bowl of chicken noodle soup with Benefiber (Lord, please don't let me have the stomach flu!).  All together we're looking at 402 calories.  Not much, but it's something!

An associate of mine posted a link to an article on the Harvard Business Review website.  It really opened my eyes to the true difference between being motivated and following through.  I encourage you to check out the article!

Your Problem Isn't Motivation
by Peter Bregman

I'd like to put some highlights here, in case you don't have the time or ability to read the entire article.

If you're following my blog, you're probably motivated to lose weight, maintain a healthier lifestyle, workout more, or follow your dreams.  When we care enough about something, we're motivated.  But being motivated isn't enough.  We have to take action and follow through, moving forward, making things happen!

If you're currently trying to solve a "motivation problem", you're looking for the wrong solution.  Visualizing yourself wearing a smaller size and reminding yourself that being in shape and eating right are great, but those attempts to "motivate" yourself just increase your anxiety and widen the gap between how much you want to work out and your failure to do so.

We've all experienced our mind sabotaging our what we truly want.  We decide to go to the gym after work but then, when it comes time to go, we think, It's late, I'm tired, maybe I'll skip it today.

Here's the key: if you want to follow through on something, stop thinking.

Shut down the conversation that goes on in your head before it starts.  Don't take the bait.  Stop arguing with yourself.

Make a very specific decision about something you want to do and don't question it.  For example: I will work out tomorrow at 6 AM.

Then, when your mind starts to argue with you, ignore it.  You're smarter than your mind.  You can see right through it!

Here are a few tricks that can help shut down your mind and improve your follow-through:
  • Create an environment that supports your workout goals.  Have your gym clothes sitting by your bed and put them on first thing when you wake up.  In fact, work out first thing, before your mind realizes what you're doing.
  • Use a trainer or commit to work out with a friend.  It's harder to argue against your accountability to another person.
  • Decide when and where you're going to work out — literally write it in your calendar — and the likelihood of follow-through will increase dramatically.
  • Commit to a concrete plan that is simple to quantify: 45 minutes of movement a day, cut out sugar, go to the gym six days a week.
  • Realize that the follow-through challenge will only last a few seconds.  As soon as you put your sneakers on and start heading to the gym, your mind will give up arguing with you.
  • Discipline will be useful for the first week as you get back into working out.  But after that, momentum will take over and the pleasure of feeling more fit will quiet the internal chatter.
  • Finally, think of all the above as a multifaceted campaign.  A checklist that you should go through each day to make sure you are stacking the deck in your favor.
Lastly, Peter mentions that he once took a golf lesson with a pro who taught him a certain way to swing the club.  After the lesson, the pro issued a warning.  "When you play with others, some people will want to give you advice. Just listen to them politely, thank them for their advice, and then completely ignore it and do exactly what I've just told you to do." 

THAT is how you should respond to your mind.

1 comment:

  1. Love the bunny...especially since I'm right there with you...go away dratted flu bug...don't come back any other day either.