"If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood, and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. "
—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
It feels like every time I set a new fitness goal, I'll fall into the same old pattern.
I'll start out strong, do my workout for a while
Then I'll start to lose interest,
or I'll get busy and things will pile up
Then I break my habit and fall out of practice
If this pattern feels familiar, don't worry! All of us go through this.
When was Motivation easy?
There was one time in my life when it wasn't like this
When I was a varsity athlete in university, I had no trouble motivating myself to workout and train. I wanted to win championships and medals. That was my main focus
I can say that back then my goals were:
Clear (to get the gold)
Enjoyable (I liked getting better and winning)
Important (if I skipped training, I was risking not winning)
Because my goals were clear, meaningful, and had real-world stakes, I was able to structure my day well. I had a clear schedule of when to train and when to study. I watched my meals, and made sure I was following my plan.
This didn't feel like a chore. I wanted to do these things. I was very motivated to do them.
Having goals with these three elements are the key
Let's Explore these three key elements
1. Clear goals
When we want to get healthy, we set up goals for ourselves like:
I want to lose weight
I want to feel stronger
I want to eat healthier
It took me years to realize that vague goals weren't helping at all.
What does it mean to 'feel stronger'?
Does it mean I can bench 100kgs?
Does it mean I can hike up mountains?
Does it mean I can carry my kids on my back?
Each of us have different needs, and thus different interpretations of what it means to 'look good,' 'feel strong,' or 'eat well.'
How to make your goals clearer
Clear goals can have a time and place attached to them.
For example, instead of "I will eat healthier," I can say, "Whenever I have a meal, I will make sure that there's something green on my plate."
Or instead of "I will get stronger," I can say "Whenever I brush my teeth, I will follow it up with doing some pushups."
Set clear goals, you'll be more likely to do them.
2. Enjoyable Goals
One of the biggest myths in health and fitness is that there are things you *have* to do in order to be healthy.
For example, everyone thinks about
Doing lots of cardio
Spending lots of time at the gym
Join fitness classes
Of course those are great things to do. But what if you don't like those things? What if they're not fun for you? I promise they won't stick, and you'll eventually quit.
Follow the fun instead
Instead of thinking that there things you *have* to do, how about starting with the things you *want* to do?
What are the things you enjoy doing? What do you find fun? This is different for each person
Person A: I enjoy the rhythm of running. It feels like meditation for me
Person B: I like the solitude of hikes. I like being out in nature.
Person C: I like being around people. I like the social aspect of fitness.
What works for each of these people will be different.
Maybe Person C will join a fitness class or a gym. The Person B will hate that. For them it's better to work out alone.
Pick the workouts that you find fun.
Be Open Minded about Workouts
What can help you in this is giving yourself more options. Explore, be creative, and open-minded.
You can get healthy by:
Learning to cook
Finding a sport you love
Finding a support group
Doing your own groceries
Playing with pets
There are so ma