You’re staring at a pile of laundry stacked up to the ceiling and, frankly, you couldn’t care less. Just then, you get a text message from your friend, “I’m coming to pick you up, we’re going out tonight!” it reads. You’re excited about the invite, but there’s one tiny problem – your favorite shirt is dirty! Oh well, no big deal, you think to yourself – and without hesitation, you pop your shirt directly into the wash while you go get ready for your outing.
So why is it that when we embark on a fitness journey, we put so much focus and energy into perfecting our diet and training plans, but we tend to overlook creating a plan to help us stay motivated?
The importance of motivation
Webster’s dictionary describes motivation as “The mental process that arouses an organism to action…” (http://www.webster-dictionary.net/definition/motivation). So, if we – the organism – do not experience the mental process – of motivation – how can we possibly put our diet and training plans into action?
I know what you’re probably thinking, “my motivation will come when I get results!” And yes, I agree with you to an extent, but what if you aren’t guaranteed results for 6-8 weeks? And what if you reach a plateau partway through your journey?
It’s important to plan for these types of instances, not to mention for other situations that will test your desire to continue training and dieting. Believe me, as you work hard to become fitter, you will face various challenges such as:
- Celebratory events like birthdays, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas etc.
- Corporate or social gatherings.
- Temptations from roommates, spouse’s or significant others who aren’t following the same plan, and, "Success Sabatogers”, or onlookers who will do everything in their power to see you fail (some consciously, some unconsciously).
So why not prepare yourself ahead of time for how you will approach these scenarios? And why not put together a plan – much like your diet and training plan – that will help you stay on track?
How to Build a Motivation Plan
Building a motivation plan may sound a little tedious, but let me tell you it is worth it. You may never even look at the written or typed plan again, but the fact that you took the time to think about, and write down the answers, will give you a leg up when you need the motivational assistance.
Step 1: Plan for the short term
Think about what you will do each day and week to maintain that current surge of motivation you are experiencing, and commit to doing it.
For instance, when I began my program I committed myself to visiting bodybuilding.com at least once everyday (and I still do). This keeps my ‘head in the game’, and reminds me about my goals every day. And, in the event that I can’t get to a computer (rare, but it happens) I always have a fitness magazine with me to flip through. For me, it is important to consistently see images of fit people or to read articles about health and fitness – it helps to maintain my focus and drive.
Some other ideas are to:
- Invest in a few fitness books or DVDs that you can watch or read regularly.
- Start your own local support group, or BodyGroup, and meet weekly to discuss your progress and goals.
- Craft a “motivation board” with images and quotes that inspire you and look at it daily.
Step 2: Plan for the long term
Think about what you will do on a monthly and yearly basis to maintain your motivation.
I buy tickets to figure and bodybuilding events that are in the distant future, and I subscribe to two of my favorite fitness magazines. This ensures that I always have something coming my way to look forward to, and it motivates me towards my own goals.
Some other ideas are to:
- Enroll in a fitness or health related night school or online class to gain more knowledge and inspire you to keep going.
- Buy tickets to the Arnold as early as possible and vow to look your best when it’s time to go to the show.
- Enter a fitness or weight loss challenge online or at the office.
Step 3: Plan for situations
This is the tricky part – think about some of the more likely situations you are going to face during your transformation and plan for how you will approach them.
- When: I get a late night craving. I Will: Drink a large glass of water, grab my favorite fitness magazine and have a bath.
- When: My friends want to go out for drinks. I Will: Limit myself to one Vodka soda water and then grab a garden salad or veggie sticks to snack on.
- When: Someone tries to put me down, or sabotage my success. I Will: Do my best to remove them from my social network and remind myself that I am doing this for myself and nobody else.
Remember, you may never actually pick up this piece of paper again, but it is important to write down the answers so that it will become embedded in your brain.
And when the time comes that you need motivational assistance, you will feel more relaxed knowing that you’ve already walked through this scenario in your head before. Often, it’s when we panic or make unconscious decisions that we tend to fall off the wagon.
Step 4: Put it into play
Now, it’s up to you. Put the plan into action and devote yourself to it, just like you would your diet or training plan. If you have to, post your plan on your wall, keep a copy in your purse or knapsack, or leave your plan on your computer desktop. Just make sure you’ve gone through the exercise and that you’re committed to following the plan and you will get the results you desire!
Don’t forget: he who fails to plan, plans to fail.