How You Can Beat The Motivation Myth
5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Happy New Years! Boom.
This is it. This is the start of my new life. I’m joining the gym… I’m starting a business… I’m changing my life. Only, January 21st arrives, and nothing has changed. Still a slave to your tyrant boss. By 5pm arrives you’re so exhausted your motivation to workout has burned out.
Our reliance on motivation is the very thing that holds us back. How many times have you said, “I’m just not motivated today”. Probably more than you realise. This internal dialogue is essentially your off switch. You’ve agreed with your brain that this isn’t happening today. You’ve chosen not to participate. You’ve made the decision to go against what you really want in favour of comfort.
It was a freezing cold and dark night in December. I was about to lock up the gym when a car pulled up outside. I knew it wasn’t a member. “This is unusual” I thought. It was mid-December and unless it was someone lost, it would be extremely rare anyone would come about personal training.
Especially this late and so close to Christmas. I waited for a few minutes. A heavy set guy stepped out of his car and walked towards the gym doors. It was one of those nasty, wet and bitter winter nights. The ones where the thought of a warm crackling fire sends a comforting feeling souring through your body.
I opened the door and in walked a tall, ungroomed man. Unshaven and dare I say, quite scruffy looking. He introduced himself as John. John looked a little desperate. I could tell he was nervous. His eyes kept flickering around the room, and he looked uneasy.
“Nice to meet you John, what can I do you for” I asked.
He thought for a moment, unsure where to start. Then said, “I need you to help me”. “OK” I said, “what exactly I can help you with?”. “This” he said as he scanned his hands up and down his frame, “I’m sick of being like this”.
I’ve been a coach now for over a decade and this isn’t unusual. Many people in desperate situations claim to be “sick of being like this” yet most of them fail to do anything about it. They create barriers and reasons not to. It’s too expensive or it’s not the right time or when I just get this [insert thing] done first, I’ll get around to it. The best I hear is; I’ll be in touch, I need to speak to my spouse first. But they never do. They continue to struggle and blame their circumstances on everything but their ability to take action.
John was different. I could tell straight away. It could have been for the fact he drove in the freezing cold at 9pm for help. It could have been the anxiousness in his voice, knowing this could be his last chance to change. Or it could have been he didn’t care how much it was going to cost him… all I knew was this kid was serious, he wanted this so badly.
John had been one of those people before. Sitting around waiting for motivation to strike over him and ignite his fire. Only it wasn’t coming. Instead, each and every day that passed he’d become more and more depressed about his situation. Resentment of who he was becoming. Telling himself he was useless. Falling into destructive habits which were taking him deeper and deeper down the hole of despair.
Motivation isn’t something that just happens. It’s something you create. Waiting for motivation is like buying a plot of land and expecting a house to grow. Standing, staring at the ground and hoping one day it will just appear. Instead you’ll witness nothing but weeds and wasteful time of your short life. Like motivation, you need components to make it possible. Without bricks, sand and cement your land will be nothing more than a jungle of undesirable plants.
So how then do we create motivation?
Much like the house, it needs to begin somewhere. The foundations. And throughout the rest of this book we’ll be building from the foundations I’m about to share with you. Thing is, you’re going to have days where you feel like you suck. You’ll have days where you’re just setting everything on fire, you’ll be so fired up. And you’ll have days where you just don’t really feel much at all. This is normal and why people ride the waves on the up days, but fall ……….
In his book, The Motivation Manifesto, Brendon Burchard states; “The dominant motives of humankind involve either freedom or fear; there are no other pathways into our psychology” What he’s saying is that we can only have two choices. We choose fear or we choose freedom.
When John stepped into my world, he wasn’t motivated as such, he was fearful. Because in the past he’d tried getting in shape, he tried eating better and each time he failed. He was fearful of failing again. The barriers people create are created by fear, not circumstances. The fear of failure, the fear of not reaching expectations, the fear of looking foolish in front of others. And so, they create barriers. This shifts the blame to someone or something else. John had all these fears but he was ready to choose freedom.
Newton’s third law; For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. If then, fear creates barriers which leads to inaction. There must be an opposite reaction. One leads us down to road of fear the other down the road of freedom.
Motive + Action + Inspiration = Motivation.
Inspiration is what creates that light up feeling inside. What most people mistake for motivation. Let me explain this a little better. Motive, which we’ll get to in the next chapter is essentially your why. This is your underlying reason for change. By taking action towards your why leads to inspiration.
John’s motive was strong. He couldn’t bare living a day longer like he was. The pain of remaining was far more powerful than moving forward. All John needed to do was take action. His first was reaching for help, that was me. His second was commitment to a lifestyle program. Done. Each and every time he took action his inspiration grew. But here’s the secret, and this will blow your mind it’s so simple; Inspiration stacks.
Imagine you’re in a dark cave with only one torch. Your goal is to get out the cave before you’re eaten by flesh eating bats. That’s a pretty strong motive, right? But the only torch you have, goes out. You’re left in the dark. Only you, the dark and flesh-eating bats. Not a great situation to be left in, right. Now imagine you have five torches. All lit up at the same time. For starters you’ll have a much clearer and path with all those lights.
You’ll be like a beacon of light illumination the entire cave. If one inevitably dies off, it’s cool. The remaining four will keep you moving, and probably alive. Of course this was an really exaggerated analogy, let’s hope this never happens in real life.
Think of these torches as inspiration. These are stacked on top of your motive. For ease of clarity I’ll use weight loss as an example. Imagine I ask you, why do you want to lose weight? And you reply, Erm, to feel better. Not particularly inspiring is it?
Now imagine we swing it and you say you want to lose weight to be an inspiration to your kids, that’s inspiration, your first torch. We then stack more on top. Let’s find a workout playlist with song which inspire you, that’s a stack. Seeking out a role model or coach to work with, that’s a stack.
Surrounding yourself with likeminded people with similar ambitions, another stack. These stacks of inspiration become your bulletproof vest for incoming resistance.
You can see now why motivation doesn’t just turn up one day at your door. You’ve got to go out and make it happen. Find your why (motive), we’ll talk about that next and start taking action right away. Look to stack inspiration after inspiration on top of each other.
As for John? He’s my most memorable client. What he achieved was phenomenal. Physically his results were amazing, like with all the clients I worked with. Mentally he was on a different level.
This was his true transformation. He came to me as a desperate 25-year-old man, who quite honestly could have been mistaken for being a depressed, unhealthy 55-year-old. Twenty-four weeks later, not only was he in the best shape of his life, but a transformed man. Even now, three years later, I’ll drop him a message asking how he’s getting on. He always finishes his replies with:
“I’m not going back to how I was”