Motivation is a fickle beast. Books, seminars, webinars, TV shows, movies, and everything else in between have been resources for improving our ability to increase our personal motivation. The amount of material is endless – and yet it eludes us during some of our most crucial times.
Within this oversaturation are key terms such as discipline, organization, willpower, positive mental attitude, hard work, and focus among others. I am not here to redefine or uncover some new and easy technique on how to gain motivation so you can live large with little effort like some early morning infomercial. Hell, I need all the motivation I can get myself sometimes.
If you have ever been bored out of your mind and perused my bio page you would know of my “other” job as a member of the Air National Guard, therefore it goes without saying that I was activated for the response/relief efforts to assist the state of Louisiana during Hurricane Isaac.
Long hours on the night (graveyard) shift, lack of quality food and sleep, and working in a high stress environment shot me out of my comfort zone like a cannon. During the first few days training, proper nutrition, and rest were the last things on my priority list. Besides being nearly impossible to accomplish, it would not have been very productive due to my inability to recover properly, subsequently drilling my health into the ground.
Of course as things settled I was able to take a breath and see what my possibilities were regarding an available gym, other food options and improving my quality of rest (which was still the most challenging aspect).
As I alluded to earlier, motivation can be a “where do I start?” scenario resulting in an “I’ll get back to my health/fitness habits when this is over” mentality.
Now, not too many of us will be facing military duty in response to hurricanes but you may find yourself working temporary long hours at your job, an assignment requiring travel, personal stressors and many other situations that shove you out of that comfy, cozy comfort zone and into that place that temps you to give up your healthy eating habits, training and proper rest schedule.
Don’t throw it all out just because you have to shift gears and explore new ways that may be foreign to you. Get your mind right, take action and do it anyway.
Below I have outlined a few pointers on how to inspire motivation through action. Some of these I have adopted over the years to at least maintain my health while getting through a tough time whether it be a storm, a military deployment, or other times when my schedule has just plain pissed me off!
Get rid of the procrastination mentality
Don’t put off your goals just because you are in a different situation. The trick is to not even start that train of thought in the first place. Get it in your brain that when things are a bit off (such as your schedule) believe that you will find a temporary yet unique way to handle it. Be prepared to explore out of the box ideas to get you there. Once your mind is prepared for change, it is all the much easier for the body to follow.
Get up and do something
Motivation doesn’t always beget action, sometimes action inspires motivation – and the process can build over time. Do something. Take action even if in the slightest. If you are used to training in the gym with a full line of equipment for over an hour and you find that you either are ill-equipped and/or only have a limited time find a way to do something. Try a superset or circuit routine with higher reps or a bodyweight-only circuit comprising of push-ups, inverted rows, lunges, bodyweight squats, and sit-ups.
The trick in these situations is not to build new muscle and break personal records, it’s to maintain your current state of fitness and help alleviate stress and elevate motivation.
Add a little at a time
Don’t go full tilt into your new routine – you may burn out too quickly and lose your will to continue. Adding more to your routine over time will coax your body (and not to mention your mind) to add intensity and work capacity at a comfortable rate. Again, your goal isn’t to set new records or put on another five pounds of muscle. Try adding a set to the circuit each time or add one new move to your routine. Any way you can gradually increase your work without compromising your motivation can go a long way regarding consistency.
Build discipline over time
This point is somewhat related to the last point. Hitting the gym (or wherever you decide to train) hard and with intensity takes time. Discipline isn’t something that is acquired and put into full action – it is something that has to be built on over time; very calculated time. Grow your ability for discipline and don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss a day or were off on your routine or diet. The skills to keep everything in check are built over each and every day you decide to try your best.
Don’t be afraid to do something new
Your ability to be open to new ideas and methods outside of your normal comfort zone directly affects how you will progress with your new plan of action. Now that you have the correct mental approach in place it is time to move forward with the discipline and motivation and put that new routine to action. Shift gears, embrace it and enjoy the “newness” of it! Who knows, you may adopt some things you have never tried before into your normal routine.
Don’t get discouraged by setbacks
Taking action, building discipline and staying the course will go a long way regarding your progress and overall motivation. But at times you will face a bump or two in the road that could temporarily derail even your greatest efforts. Don’t let this discourage you. Be adaptable and keep the positive approach you have worked so hard to build upon. Again, it is all about having a unique mindset for your unique situation and having the discipline to roll with the punches when needed.
Own what you have done and be proud
Think of your ability to train and eat properly as an accomplishment despite your difficult circumstances. Celebrate the fact that no matter where you are or how much you have on your plate you are doing what you planned to do. Be confident that you possess the discipline and mindset to create lasting motivation and that you put those key attributes into action!