How to take action when you feel unmotivated

Motivation, a powerful yet often difficult to obtain phenomenon.

In a consumer culture where misleading marketing can make it seem like there is a solution to all your problems through the buying of products, finding real motivation is hard.

You don’t want to change how you live, but you want to change the result.

Motivation is the result of action

That’s why quick weight loss supplements and other scams sell so well.

They give the illusion that you don’t really have to change what you do.

The marketing gives you the hope that you can carry on living exactly the way you are eating pizza and drinking wine but with one supplement you will lose weight, be healthier and feel better.

But it doesn’t work like that.

It doesn’t fix the root of the problem and it’s a temporary solution.

What will fix the root of the problem is forming better habits towards living a healthy lifestyle.

What is motivation?

One of the most influential books I have read is the ‘War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield.

In fact, without reading his book I doubt I would have quit my secure job to start up my own business.

He has a phrase that has resonated with me that I think sums up motivation: ‘At some point, the pain of not doing something you know you should do becomes greater than the pain of doing it’.

To put that into context, it means that at some point it will be easier to make time for exercise and experience a bit of physical discomfort than it is to stay sitting on the couch, being overweight or unable to move as well as you would like.

So what can we do to make sure you cross this threshold and realise that not getting healthier will feel worse than actually taking action to get healthier?

How to get started

It’s funny, but I often feel more motivated after doing something, not before.

Motivation is the result of action.

Once you get started, you gain momentum.

Getting started is the hardest part.

So it’s vitally important to start with something easy.

You might think you have to change yourself and become a ‘gym person’ or a ‘fitness person’.

But there’s no such thing as a ‘gym person’ or a ‘fitness person’. 

There are just people who exercise, and people that don’t exercise.

So to get you exercising, you want to automate the process and choose something really easy that you can do to start with.

The power of scheduling

Schedule in just five minutes of exercise a day. Write it in your diary. Write it on the fridge! But pick a time every day for a week and commit to it. 

If your workout doesn’t have a time when it occurs, you’ll usually end up thinking ‘I hope I find the time and willpower to exercise today’. 

Of course, it never happens.

You’re always waiting to feel motivated and inspired, but you never do.

However there is plenty of scientific research suggesting that just writing down and scheduling what you will do means you are more likely to actually do it.

Not only that, but if you have a set time when you do it each day it becomes a habit. When it becomes a habit, you start doing it on autopilot without realising it.

This makes it easy to do.

It doesn’t really matter what you do but I would recommend some form of strength and conditioning exercises as these are essential for pretty much everyone. Think squats, lunges, planks and press ups. See my guide here on strength training for beginners which details how these exercises can be regressed or progressed for any age and ability.

Motivation is the result of action

Remember, you will never magically wake up one day and be motivated to reach any health and fitness goals.

You will only become motivated once you make a start.

So schedule in your five minutes of exercise a day.

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