Motivation is constantly slipping away from us. Sometimes staying motivated is as difficult as picking up the spilled jelly my four year old has dropped on the dining table. You just can’t seem to get a grip on it no matter how hard you try, it just slides through your fingers.
In some ways, losing motivation seems to be more demoralising than never having it in the first place. You can remember what it felt like when you were motivated, that sense of purpose and moving forwards. What you can’t remember is how you lost it, how you ended up in this place that feels like starting again, even though it’s only been a few days or weeks.
On the positive side, you can only lose motivation if you once had it and if you had it once, you can have it again. My current struggle is around not noticing the downwards slide from focused and motivated to eating leftover chips on the couch in my slippers.
I’m pretty sure that these things start with a series of events. In my case a cold that dragged on a bit combined with a few unplanned morning teas at work, some uncontrolled snacking and a weekend away. While I didn’t completely give away my fitness and eating routine during the last three weeks, I’m struggling to regain the focus and discipline I had before I got sick. My brain seems to have forgotten all the reasons why I want to get fitter and healthier. None of my overall priorities have changed, I still want a simpler, more pain free life. It’s as if my brain has decided that the status quo isn’t so bad.
I’ve read my fair share of articles on motivation but my favourite author is Leo Babuta, the creator of Zen Habits. When I first starting reading Leo’s blog I was impressed by how he had transformed his life, one tiny habit forming change at a time. Right now I’m reading his blog post on getting back on track when you’ve lost motivation. Leo is the master of trying, failing, and then succeeding. He advocates small steps and small victories over a long period of time.
Ultimately, I think the key to my long term success lies with the above advice but this will require me to overcome what I suspect is my greatest barrier of all. Impatience. Losing motivation is a set back, but it’s the overwhelming prospect of starting again that keeps us demotivated. Personally, I struggle with the level of patience required to maintain a change for a long time. To get back on track I will need to develop patience. My constant need to quickly achieve goals and results is holding me back from achieving long term gradual change.
Earlier this year, I wrote a post around focusing on process rather than results and this idea is always in the forefront on my mind, even though I struggle to practice it. So for the next few months I am going to try to really live a focus on process lifestyle. During this time I’m going to focus on four key things I need to do each day:
- Eat right
- Get enough sleep
I’m not going to worry about whether I do the right workout on the the right day or pathologically avoid processed sugar. I’m just going to try to stay mindful and do something towards each of these four things each day.
I’m going to forget about results for the next two months and concentrate on patiently forming the habits that will hopefully sustain me for years to come.