How many times did you hit the snooze button this morning? I bet you could name, easily, 5 things you’ve been putting off. You know, those things you “have to get done” but never seem to find a way to make it happen. There’s always some convenient excuse for not doing what you “should” be doing. It doesn’t matter if its exercise, housework, laundry, getting a head start on some project. You just don’t have the motivation to follow through! Does that make you lazy? Absolutely not! It makes you human, instead.

Are you a procrastinator?

There’s a difference between procrastination and flat out not doing something for no good reason. If you’re a chronic procrastinator, you most likely check things off your list, albeit at a later date. Perhaps you’re the type of person who works better under the stress. And there’s nothing more stressful than starting something at the last.possible.minute.

What I’m referring to, here, is not doing the thing. At all, for any reason whatsoever. Even though you know doing the thing would benefit you. Therein lies the subtlety. What you’re lacking is the motivation to get started doing something you don’t “have” to do, but something you “should do”. 

For example…

Why can’t you get motivated to live a healthier lifestyle- say, exercise?

Can you relate? This is a topic that I’ve heard several times over, from people of all ages and fitness levels. You know you want (or need) to exercise. Cardio, weights, stretching, whatever. Be honest here, you (already) know, when it comes time to actually doing the thing, you find a million different ways out of it. 

“The kids, my job, no time, no equipment.” It all boils down to “I’m really not motivated to move my body.” I get it. I’ve been there. Blah, blah and more blah! You’re not procrastinating until the last minute- squeezing in a quick cardio burst before starting dinner- you’re just not doing it. Follow these steps to help you shift your habits to be more motivated! 

Reminder, for the purpose of this post, we’ll focus on exercise, but use these tips for anything you need help actually doing. 

Step 1.

Exercise is the easiest life habit to break. So to combat the lack of desire to do the thing, we start with the basics of goal setting:

Set a realistic goal for yourself. Key word here being REALISTIC. Pick an activity that’s realistic FOR YOU. Again…REALISTIC!!! 

We unintentionally set ourselves up to fail by trying to do too much too fast. Furthermore, we trick ourselves into doing something we don’t enjoy, for the sake of doing it. Inevitably, we fail, because we do something that doesn’t work for us. Setting a goal toward doing something we really don’t enjoy isn’t noble, for the sake of the thing, it’s martyring yourself, for the sake of the thing. It’s not realistic for who you are in this moment, so be honest with yourself!

Yes, everyone knows exercise is important for your heart health and helps you lose weight. To be honest, the “why” isn’t really that important. The most important part of setting your goal is to take a good hard look at your beginning point, and be real with yourself about who you are, and where your level of motivation is. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. Your realistic goal would look something like this:

“Every Wednesday at 4 pm I’m going to walk for 30 minutes.” 

“Every (day of the week) at (time of day), I’m going to (some form of exercise) for (period of time).”

Pick a day and time that you’re confident you can keep. Consider it a health appointment with yourself. And that’s it. Keep it simple and doable. You’re the one who knows what you’re capable of, so set yourself up for success!  Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Once you’ve shifted your goal into a habit, you’ll become motivated to go to the next level. That’s how you find success. 

Step 2.

Reward yourself! You set a goal that was realistic, and you crushed it! There’s no stopping you! Now, you’re seeing results, and you’re motivated to do the thing. You’ve made the thing a habit, and changed your life for the better. 

So give yourself an atta girl (or boy)! You deserve it! Once you’ve set your goal, decide on a reward, preferably one that has nothing to do with the goal itself. For example: 

You’re doing some cardio. Great! Here’s how the reward portion of the motivation steps works. 

“After I’ve done one month of consistent cardio I’m going to buy myself that purse I always wanted.” 

“I’m going to detail my car.” 

“I will have a pedicure.” 

“I’ll get a new puppy.”

“Trip to Paris? You bet!” 

By making your reward totally different than the thing itself, you’re giving yourself an external motivator. Think about it this way: if you say, “once I’ve done my cardio, I’m going to eat a cheesecake”, you’re setting yourself up to dump the motivation you’ve just worked so hard to get. Because, if you’re doing cardio for weight loss, then eating a cheesecake is not forward progress. But gifting yourself something that has zero to do with your weight loss is intrinsically motivating. Not only do you feel good, but you’ve got a tangible object to prove to yourself that you did it. Make sense?

What you’ve done is given yourself a good old fashion dose of dopamine. And there’s no better motivator than what you can produce yourself. 

Step 3.

Meditate on how you’ll feel after doing the thing. We’ve already determined you need some motivation for the actual follow through. So…

What’s it’s look like after you’ve done it? 

Close your eyes and focus so intently on the image your mind creates for doing the thing, that you feel like you’ve already done it. 

How does your body feel? How does your soul feel? Concentrate on this as many times throughout the day as you need. If you want some solid proof, check out this guy. He’s got the goods to back up the theory. 

One last thing to bear in mind…

You can follow any amount of advice, learn to follow steps til the cows come home, but if you don’t shift you’re thinking you’re not gonna go anywhere. Ultimately, it must come from you. You must be the main motivator, and your desire to change needs to be greater than more of the same. 

So what’s it gonna be?