Every now and then someone says something very simple that we actually know but it hasn’t really registered for us. Have you ever had that experience? I have many times.
Yesterday was one of those occasions when I came across an article by personal trainer, Michelle Bridges. She constantly gets asked questions about exercise, health and well-being. One that makes her “want to tear my hair out”, she says, is: “So tell me Michelle, how do you stay motivated?”
She says that achieving what you want for your life is not about motivation. It is about consistency.
She reminds us that motivation is about feeling – whether we feel like doing something or not. Motivating ourselves is about keeping the positive feelings about that in top gear so that we maintain the momentum and don’t go back to where we were. Feelings don’t last, she reminds us and they are fickle and unpredictable. There one day and not there the next.
If we make decisions in our life solely on how we feel, most of us wouldn’t do much at all. Sometime we have to bring other parts of ourselves into the equation – what’s the right thing to do, what do we really want to do deep down, what will give us the best outcome in the long term, and so on.
While motivation is about feeling, consistency, she says, is about doing. What’s going to bring us the success and outcomes we want is consistency, what she calls “that steady, yet relentless, journey to an end….” that “doesn’t require profound thought. You just literally do it.”
None of us want to hear someone say to us: “Just do it!” when we are talking about how difficult it is to maintain motivation for something we profess to be important to us. Most of us think and think about it. We engage in an internal discussion about why we should or shouldn’t do it.
Whether we should get up and go to the gym at 6 a.m. when the alarm went off, or whether we’ll go back to sleep and do it later. We all know we won’t do it later, don’t we?
Whether we’ll begin that report today that we have to do every month and has to be done in three days time, the one we put off every month and end up staying up half the night to finish it.
Whether we’ll get some help to stop smoking and who is the best person to help us because we know we can’t do it on our own.
Endless conversations either in our heads or with friends who are tired of hearing it all.
Bridges reminds us that no one wants to get up at 6 a.m. and go to the gym especially if it is wet and cold. No one wants to stop doing the things we enjoy doing at work to write that report. No one wants to go through the pain of stopping smoking. You know what that’s like. You’ve tried so many times before. So, says Bridges, it is too hard work to motivate ourselves to do what we don’t want to do every day. “Don’t think”, she says, “Just do it.”
If you have already determined that some action is important for you and your success, then don’t have an endless discussion with yourself about it whenever it is time to do it. JUST DO IT! Next day do it again without thinking about it, and the next day do it again without thinking. After a while, having consistently done it over and over and over, it becomes part of your daily life – just like having a shower or cleaning your teeth.
So JUST DO IT! Stop thinking about it. It’s not about motivation. It is about consistency.