What is the secret to staying on track when our biggest obstacle is our own lack of motivation?
When approaching the decision to create a healthier lifestyle for ourselves, we can have all the information we need at our fingertips. We can have the right diet, the right training regime, even the right workout gear and gym partner to get us going. In today's day and age, it isn't difficult to have access to everything we need. However, our biggest setback is the one we cannot touch, we cannot google, nor can we pay someone else to do it for us. Our biggest setback with pursuing the lifestyle and goals we fantasize about is ourselves. It's our own mind.
The reality of it is, is that most people can easily find the motivation to pursue anything when they are under optimal circumstances. Whether that be physically or mentally, when we feel good, it's easy to want to feel better, even if that means suffering a little. On the contrary, being able to maintain that motivation when things get tough is what differentiates those who succeed vs. those who fall short on their goals. It's really quite simple, if we are already struggling, we will naturally resist struggling more and our goals will fall short to nearsighted pleasure or relief. Nothing comes easily, which is why the trick is not falling into the trap of your own mind.
"Mans Greatest Mistake Is Mistaking That For What He Wants Most, With That For What He Wants Now." - Unknown
The first step of not falling into this motivation trap and surpassing the desire to give up when things get difficult is becoming aware of it. As human beings, we have a biological disposition to constantly want to be in a happy and/or comfortable state. On a physiological level, our bodies will release hormones that send signals to the brain in order to respond to these signs of discomfort. It comes from our natural instinct for survival, when we are hungry, we want food, when we are tired, we want to rest, which all comes back to staying alive. The problem is that in this day and age, these basic human needs come in excess, at convenience and for pleasure, and we have adapted to exactly that. Even our bodies have adapted. Think about Diabetes being one of the leading causes of death, this is due to the way our bodies produce insulin as a response to excess sugar (see article on intermittent fasting). If we can recognize the fact that quite often when we are struggling, it is merely due to our body physiologically adapting to convenience and not in fact a threat to our survival, we can begin to combat this. This technique is specifically helpful in scenarios like dieting, or during intensive exercise, when we are pushing our bodies past the state of fat storage and into the state of burning fat for energy, which we were naturally meant to do.
Yet this technique goes farther than just being aware of our bodies natural desire to resist pushing itself out of its comfort zone, and how that will trick our minds into losing motivation. This is because even when we can recognize we are tired or hungry, for example, due to what we have become accustomed to and not out of a need for survival, it doesn’t necessarily mean we will want to feel like that. Our bodies and minds work in synergy, and when one is off, the other follows. When we begin to struggle physically, it will effect our mental state. An example of why this occurs is because 90% of our serotonin is produced in our gut, which quite often goes unnoticed, especially when the majority of food we eat on a daily basis is negatively impacting our gut health anyways (e.g. processed sugars, trans fats, etc.). Therefore, it is crucial to maintain a disciplined mindset even throughout an uncomfortable physical state. This varies from individual to individual, but being able to place focus and maintain a positive outlook on the reason for temporary struggle is they key to transpiring through a lack of motivation. One quote that greatly illustrates the importance of this is "Mans Greatest Mistake Is Mistaking That For What He Wants Most, With That For What He Wants Now." -Unknown. The key to finding motivation without being motivated is recognizing that you are not always going to have motivation, instead what you constantly need is purpose.
Once you are able to recognize that your greatest obstacle in achieving anything really is your own mind, it opens you up to a vast amount of opportunity. Of course, there are limits, and there is a difference between struggling and suffering, but it comes down to recognizing the difference, and surpassing the illusion of a struggle being detrimental. It begins with recognizing our biological predisposition to adapt to whatever we are exposed to, which is quite often excess, convenience and immediate gratification. This will allow for the ability to push past preconceived physical limits in order to get where we want to go. However, due to the connection between our bodies and minds, it is crucial to maintain focus on long term success and happiness, and positivity, when our minds naturally begin to resist the struggle. After all, they say nothing worth having comes easy. Therefore the solution to the motivation trap is not in fact avoiding the trap all together, because it is inevitable. The solution instead is embracing it, pushing through it, and having the patience to trust that there is a greater purpose ahead.