It's a cold and frosty winter morning here in Liverpool, and I've just received a message from one of my personal training clients saying she doesn't want to go for a run. Her reason is valid (she feels tired and a little sick), and I know the weather also plays its part. I quickly get her to go to her journal and read out loud her 4 steps to staying motivated!
Motivation is NOT a permanent resource; it's deeply connected to our emotions and chemical response in the brain, one of those primary chemicals being dopamine.
To stay motivated, you need to have Clarity of mind, Strong Emotional Drivers, A Supportive Environment, and a Connection to a group of people on the same mission. The CMET framework that follows provides you with a science-based system in 4 steps you can employ in your life today to keep your motivation high.
Recently, many fitness influencers and personal trainers are riding the trend of trashing motivation, calling it BS. Although I understand their argument, in essence, that motivation is a short-term phenomenon, I strongly disagree!
Motivation is your internal fire; it's the driving force that keeps you going in the world; it's the momentum that pushes the individual to get up at 6am on a dark, cold morning and go running on the streets or hit the gym before work. It's the lifeforce energy that pushes Elon Musk to build a space company and plan trips to Mars, the driving force behind Michael Phelps's record 23 Olympic Gold Medals, and the fire that's within the single mother with a busy career who still manages to exercise 5 days a week.
With Personal Training clients on the Wirral and Liverpool for 20 years, I've come to recognise that motivation is a critical factor for success. Without a powerful reason why the goal disappears once things become complicated. The bottom line, you NEED motivation if you want to get fit, lose weight, and perform at your best in life.
This framework integrates 4 of the most potent evidence-based components of behavioural change and goal setting. These components are the 4 most common elements found in countless scientific research articles, bestselling behavioural change books, and millions of successful real-world cases.
In their best-selling behavioural change book 'Switch', authors Chip & Dan Heath share incredible examples of why gaining clarity is key to achieving goals and remaining motivated.
An experiment was conducted with a large group of doctors in the US. They were asked to provide the best advice for a patient with an arthritic hip after trying numerous medications that had failed.
They had the choice to provide a new medication that had just been produced showing promising results or advise the patient to go through profoundly invasive surgery and have a hip replacement. Almost half of the doctors chose the new medication hoping their patient would not have to undergo such extensive surgery.
However, the doctors were when then given another option. More choices for other promising medications. So instead of just one drug, they were offered two new medicines or surgery.
It would seem logic would tip the scales of judgement towards choosing more medical drug options instead of the rigorous surgical intervention and the apparent risk that co-occurs with surgery.
The reverse happened. When faced with even more options, over three-quarters of the doctors chose surgery.
Why did this happen?
When we are presented with too much choice, we become paralysed by analysis. When we are paralysed by choice, this creates emotional friction as we move from something simple to something overly complex.
Have you ever shopped online for something and read so many reviews and opinions that you feel as though you don't know what the right decision is? Welcome to the paradox of choice. For further exploration watch, this TED talk by Psychologist Barry Schwartz on the Paradox of Choice.
To be clear (no pun intended), we need to cut through all the noise of possibilities and create a clear pathway of what to do. Unless you give yourself a crystal-clear set of instructions or actions to follow, you'll very quickly move into overwhelm, and it's this stress that will crush your motivation fast!
Create the clarity to remove the friction, take action, and move to the next step with a clear direction.
To increase your level of motivation, you need to connect the dots of your goals with things that matter in your life. This is a practice I get all my online and home personal training clients to do. Creating a powerful meaning to your goal is what keeps the flames alive even on your darkest days.
Look to see how your goal impacts the profound aspects of your personality and desires in life by creating a vision of what this will mean for you if you achieve your goals and the negative part of how your life would look by not completing it.
Connect all the things that matter to you emotionally, and you'll increase the fire within you to achieve what you want!
Did you know, we naturally care for others far more than we care for ourselves? For example, a recent study by the World Health Organisation showed that 75% of people who needed to take life-saving medication failed to do so. This is staggering and goes to show how poor we are at self-care.
A 2021 study of dog owners showed that 86.5% of people that had to give their dog medication 3 times a day for over a year did so successfully.
What the hell does this say about us? Well, we simply care more for others than we do for ourselves!
So how do we use this for motivation?
Here's the clever but also scary bit. Let's say you're overweight and you wish to lose 50lbs in the next 6 months. Although this is a big target, it's feasible with a consistent weight loss of 2lbs a week. You then announce this publicly and tell everyone you know what you're doing but then add the real big motivator.
Connect with a charity close to your heart, inform them that you wish to raise funds for them over the next 6 months through several fitness challenges and a weight loss target of 50lbs... Can you feel the emotional weight of that already?
Now you're talking! You have created the most significant motivational driving force you can imagine by using the power of doing something to help disadvantaged people. This will be a game-changer for you!
Following these two actions of connecting your goal to the most essential things in your life, and by doing this for others, will switch your dream from something you want into a magnificent obsession!!
Create an environment that complements your goal effort and remove everything that can hinder your chances.
Since the No-Smoking ban in the UK in 2007, almost half of the people who smoked no longer do.
The only difference was people could no longer smoke in public places indoors. Accessibility was made harder, simple, but very effective.
During the Vietnam war, 43% of US soldiers were using and addicted to opioids, primarily heroin. This was obviously a great concern to the US government with the apparent problem of having thousands of soldiers returning home as heroin addicts.
A study published on this problem followed the rehab process of the soldiers returning home. Despite the high percentage of heroin users of this highly addictive substance, only 7% of the 43% remained addicts. The rest of the users simply stopped on their return home.
How did this happen?
Although it's not clear, the best conclusions seem to be access to the drug and the surrounding conditions. If you're in a painful and/or stressful environment consistently and have easy access to something that can ease the pain and make you feel better, the likelihood is you will choose to use it... Reaching for a glass of wine after a stressful day at work ring any bells?
The bottom line, your environment makes a significant impact on how you think, feel and behave.
Setting up an environment for success is a critical part of your motivational journey. Making it difficult to access all those things causing you a problem and creating a clear and accessible pathway to all those things that complement your goal is the best action to take to stay motivated!
The Herd is a crowd of people on the same journey or who have been on a similar path that awaits you.
Becoming part of the crowd is a powerful force that's been repeated throughout history on varying levels. Just a small number of individuals have the power to change the thinking and behaviours of the masses.
If you are part of a group focused on its goals, then lack of participation will make you feel as though you're missing out. However, along with the fear of missing out, you also feel you're letting the side down.
Human beings are social creatures, and we naturally want to be accepted by society and belong to a particular group. To be accepted by the group, you must follow the group culture which, and you naturally aim to do so to feel accepted and belong there.
One of the most entertaining examples of this is the lesson in leadership from the dancing guy. Click here to watch the phenomenon unfold within 3 minutes on YouTube
By using the power of The Herd, you are significantly increasing your chances of success as other people help encourage you because they are doing it too or they have already done it. So, find yourself in a small group of others on the same journey that you feel you would enjoy.
This can be small community groups, weight loss groups, sports clubs and associations, activity groups such as climbing, hiking, cycling etc. Find your tribe who you belong and let them help motivate you!
Motivation is the Human essence of working towards a goal, and by combining these 4 evidence-based practices of CMET, you'll significantly improve your chances of succeeding. So tap into your human side and allow it to serve you instead of stopping you!
Good luck on your fitness and weight loss journey, my friend!