How to STAY Motivated?
While working on whatever journey you have set out to accomplish, it is important to not take on tasks that are significantly above your capability. There is a phenomenon in developmental psychology called The Goldilocks Principle that describes the ideal routine for maintaining your motivation. This theory is based on the children’s story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where Goldilocks finds a house owned by three bears. Each bear has its own preference of food and beds. After testing all three examples of both items, Goldilocks determines that one of them is always too much in one extreme (too hot or too large), one is too much in the opposite extreme (too cold or too small), and one is “just right”.
How does The Goldilocks Principle apply to your journey? Much like the size of the bed and temperature of the food in the story, if one of your tasks is significantly below or far exceeds your capability at the time you attempt it, you may find it boring or discouraging. These feelings could possibly hinder or halt your progress toward your goal. The mind is a powerful tool but often can be our biggest roadblock. Tasks that straddle the border of success or failure are most motivating for the human brain. If you find yourself boring or discouraged with a task at hand, sit back and brainstorm how to pull that task back to your level to maintain peak motivation. Keeping the Goldilocks Principle in mind when planning your tasks is vital for maintaining long-term motivation for accomplishing your goals.
The Motivation “Wall”
Anyone who has run a marathon has heard of the “The Wall,” when I ran my first marathon I experience it right on schedule at Mile 22. Chances are, no matter the journey, you will hit speed bumps or roadblocks along the way. It is important to persevere. Even if the tasks you are preforming are within your scope of capability, your mind will likely tell you to stop if something becomes too challenging. Rather than giving in to this thought, imagine how good it will feel when the task is done and you have accomplished what you set out to do. You might consider brainstorming new ways to keep yourself engaged in the task at hand in order to finish.
Everyone has heard the quote “Pain is temporary…” and while it may be cliché it is also true. Say you have 4 reps in your squat set left, your legs are on fire and you feel defeated. You muster the energy to finish those last 4 reps, you instantly feel better and stronger knowing that you completed what you set out to do. This quote applies to so many things in life: working out, cooking, cleaning, even just making it through a shift at work. When I graduated college and got my first job working 12-hour shifts, I would dwell on how long the days were or how slow the time went. One of my more seasoned co-workers, who always had a calm demeanor, told me: “there’s nothing you can do about it, you have to be here. The way I look at it is, I get here and I spend 12 hours of my day here, the time goes just like it would for anyone and after 12 hours, I go home.” I internalized what he told me and saw the truth in the words. Push yourself to keep going because it WILL end, and when it does you will feel much better knowing what you accomplished.
One last sentiment about hurdling over that “wall,” you will NEVER regret the progress you made, but you will regret what you did not accomplish if you quit. You see the finish line in the distance, and while you might hate every second along the way when you cross that line you will feel fulfilled. I have never met someone who told me they felt awful after losing 30 lbs. during their fitness journey, and I likely never will. A large part of our society gets hung up on the goal and not the journey – anyone can dream of winning a gold medal in the Olympics but few people want to put the work in and train like an Olympian. You want your 6-pack abs and chiseled back, but you don’t want to grind out at the gym 5x week while maintaining a healthy diet. You can’t have your goal without the hard work that precedes it, that is life. If you stick to your schedule, put in the work, push through the “blood, sweat and tears” you will see results and you will live a happier and fulfilled life.
Comment on what factors motivate you to achieve your goals!!
If you need to catch up on the rest of the essay:
Motivation Pt 1 – What is Motivation?
Motivation Pt 2 – How Do I Get Motivated?