Motivation’s a big deal. It’s one of the things I’m asked about most. It seems to come naturally to some people. To others, I look like someone who finds it easy. But in reality I’ve just thought hard about what works for me, and worked to put that in place. Here I break it down into four techniques, so you can use them too.
1. State of mind
The first is to be easy on yourself. We’re so used to getting what we want immediately in life nowadays. Don’t expect to hit 100% motivation instantly or constantly. You’ll have peaks and troughs. This is normal. Just accept them calmly, and over time you’ll be more consistently motivated, once you know what works for you.
You need to really understand your own unique motivation. Some new runners give up quickly. It can be hard to keep running or cycling if you don’t know why you’re doing it. Your ‘why’ can be anything at all. It just has to be honest, which can be the tricky part!
Maybe you like social running with friends, or achieving a time or distance goal, want to beat a family member’s time, or maybe you just want to eat more cake! Your friend’s motivation won’t get you out of the door. Only yours will. So be super honest with yourself, and use that to keep you going during tough times.
3. Being realistic
Linked to being honest, many people fail, not because they are lazy or weak, but because they haven’t thought through fully, how best to fit sport into their own life. (See my tips on finding time to train).
Find times to train for your goals that are realistic for you to achieve, and that fit your life and energy. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up to feel like you’re failing, which is incredibly demotivating.
4. An easy way to get motivated
Those techniques are useful but do all take some thinking. A fascinating easy way to get motivated was uncovered by researchers in the UK this year*.
Participants were able to take longer to exercise to exhaustion, after being shown happy and action oriented words or images. Interestingly, they didn’t even need to have actively made an effort to look at these words – a quick unconscious glance was enough.
I’m a big fan of positive quotes to keep up my motivation. I’ve got lots framed around my house. If you’d like to keep your motivation high, both consciously and unconsciously, then find the AOYS inspirational quote that gets you going. They’re based on my and the AOYS community’s favourites, but if you can say it better, or just have another special saying, you can personalise your own quote. Check them out here.
I really hope those tips help your motivation. Let me know, and do share any other techniques you use, in the comments, or social media.
*Researchers at Bangor University and the University of Kent, February 2015