How to get motivated: showing up is half the battle
I’ve noticed a very interesting workout phenomenon over the years – both in myself and the people I’ve trained. Perhaps you’ve experienced it too.
What happens is this: it’s a workout day, but for some reason, the last thing in the world you feel like doing is working out.
Maybe you’re physically fatigued from doing stuff in the yard the last couple days. Or you had house guests staying with you that wore you out. Perhaps it’s you’re first day back from an awesome vacation.
Whatever the reason, you’re convinced that there’s no way you’re going to have an effective workout. But you also know you’re going to feel really guilty if you skip it.
You can’t figure out how to get motivated, so you just drag yourself to wherever it is you workout, and with super low expectations, you get started.
And this is where the weird phenomenon kicks in: what you thought was going to be a horror show of a workout turns out to be one of your best days!
What’s happening here?
In his book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, eminent psychiatrist Dr. David Burns discusses this intriguing phenomenon.
According to Dr. Burns:
“Individuals who procrastinate frequently confuse motivation and action. You foolishly wait until you feel in the mood to do something. Since you don’t feel like doing it, you automatically put it off.
Your error is your belief that motivation comes first, and then leads to activation and success. But it is usually the other way around; action must come first, and the motivation comes later on.
It works like this:
If you are a procrastinator, you probably aren’t aware of this. When someone suggests you do something, you whine, ‘I don’t feel like it’. Well, who said you were supposed to feel like it? If you wait until you’re ‘in the mood’, you may wait forever!”
How to get motivated
So when it comes to workout motivation, the magic key when you don’t feel like working out is to show up and get started.
If you do, you may discover for yourself the same thing that I have – that many times you not only have a great workout, you have one of your best ever!
And even if you don’t, at the very least you won’t feel guilty for not even showing up.
“Action is the foundational key to all success.” Pablo Picasso
So follow Picasso’s advice on how to get motivated, and the workout you didn’t feel like doing may turn out to be a masterpiece!
Has this phenomenon ever happened to you? If so, leave a comment below!
I read somewhere else recently that success is not gauged on those days you’re pumped and set several PRs. Success is gauged on those days you feel like being anywhere but at the gym, but you punch the clock and do what you need to do anyway. Being proactive and consistent is the key to success.
I agree with that 100% Raymond. Those days are the one that will make or break your long-term success in the long run – and the days you should go home the most proud of yourself.
Hi Dave, my name is Dave too I’m 54 years old, i have a neurological/ nervous system disorder called Tardive Dyskinesia. i have a wide range of physical problems –ranging from restlessness, lack of sleep, gait problems, cognitive issues, i’m over-sensitive to heat –being in the hot sun. When i do anything really exhausting like lifting weights—a sudden heat reaction comes on –to where my skin gets a reddish/burning feeling, i get lightheaded– all at once –i have to discontinue my workout –this has been going on for years. Doctors just tell me— to meditate, drink decaf beverages, wear a hat in the sun, and do moderate exercise. i do this and it helps some. my question to you is– -how can i work hard enough to build muscle with this is happening to me? recommended– books by Dr. Peter R. Breggin MD. i look forward to your reply.
Hi Dave, very sorry to hear you are dealing with these issues.
Of course I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Anything I write on this website is just my opinion based on my experience. If anything I write contradicts your doctor’s advice, go with what your doctor says.
In your case it sounds like it will be very challenging for you to build muscle, given your response to intense exercise. You might want to try starting with a super low dose of weight training – such as 1 set of 10 reps each of a lower body push (like a leg press), an upper body push (like a chest press), and an upper body pull (like a pulldown), performed once a week, with a moderate level of exertion. Record the weight and reps, and see how you respond.
If you tolerate that well, the following week try again, and see if you can do 11 or 12 reps on each exercise. Continue weekly like that until such time as you can do 15 reps without any adverse heat reactions, then increase the weight by 2 pounds and start back at 10 reps.
You may or may not build a lot of new muscle, but you’ll be getting stronger, and achieving the many other benefits of progressive resistance exercise, which include improved cognitive function.