Wednesday, November 25, 2015

You Don't Need Motivation

Getting up every morning at 6am to do deadlifts never becomes easy. Running 8 miles after a long day of work every day is not super great. Going to the gym on the weekend when all you want to do is rest after a long week is gross.

But I still do all those things. Every day, every week, every month. And I plan to continue doing them until I die.

Oh sure, you get an endorphin rush when you lift or run. You get to forget about the world for a while. You get to feel superhuman. Those are awesome feelings. But that only happens after the first few sets, or the first few miles. When you're standing there, in the cold, in the dark, eyes drooping, body aching, it's hard to think about how good it WILL feel. All you want to do is go back to bed, or lounge on the couch with a beer and TV.

"What the heck? Where are the endorphins?"

I know, I feel it every time before I exercise.

I can't hang around and wait for motivation to strike. Because it never does. Motivation is what you get after you've spent six months on the couch with beer and TV, and you see an ad on TV for the local gym. That lasts for maybe two weeks. Motivation is what you get when you see how easy it is to create a site on blogger. That doesn't last long either. Motivation happens on that perfect Spring day. That lasts until it gets too hot.

Motivation is good for doing occasional big things. I live in a pig sty, but I sometimes get motivated to clean my disgusting room. I slack off at work as much as the next guy, but I get motivated by big interesting projects. But if there's something you want to start doing and - more importantly - to keep doing, you can't depend on motivation. It bails on you when things get tough.

"Eventually I'll get the motivation to get up. Just not now."

This is when routine swoops in and saves your butt. Routine may not sound heroic, but trust me, it's awesome. Routine is the reason you haven't been fired from your job yet. Routine is the reason your kids are still alive (and you for that matter). Routine is the reason you don't randomly run out of gas on the highway. Routine is something you do without having to think about it.

Thinking sucks. Thinking gets you into trouble.

If at any point I actually stopped to think about why I do everything I do, I'd probably say to myself, "well I don't need ripped abs, and I was plenty happy before without them." If I stopped to think I would say, "man, sleeping in is really great, and missing one day of exercise won't make a difference in the long run." If I stopped to think, I would say, "I could relax, eat ice cream, binge watch my favorite shows with a glass of wine, and just enjoy the heck out of all the nice things in life."

Do you see where thinking can get me in trouble? Doubt, insecurity, second-guessing, fear, and all those other stupid feelings come from thinking. I think at work. I think when I write. I think when I take photos. But when it comes to exercise, I just GO. I just DO. The only thought is to decide exactly when I should put on the pot of coffee.

"I just go go go!"

At some point I decided that I wanted to be strong. I decided that I wanted to be fit. I decided that I wanted to be better than I was. I made those decisions for good reasons. I don't need to go back and reevaluate them. I don't need to doubt them. I just have to act on them, every day. Every. Single. Day. Without thinking about them. Without requiring motivation. But going purely on routine. I did deadlifts yesterday morning. I did deadlifts the morning before. And the morning before that.

Ironically (and I'm sure I'm using that word wrong), I didn't do deadlifts this morning like I usually would. But that's because I'm running a 5K tomorrow and I really want to get under 20 minutes. That was a logical decision. It wasn't because I'm lazy. Otherwise I haven't missed a single day of deadlifts in 42 days. And tomorrow, when I kill that race, I will see WHY I work so hard. It will be a huge reward for all of my persistence. And a reminder as to why I do it.

The hardest part is getting into a routine in the first place. It can take a couple weeks or even a month to form a new habit. That's why deciding to lift once a week isn't enough. Running only when it's nice out, or you have time to spare, doesn't cut it. Picking up a new hobby or project without a plan for when you'll practice it is a guarantee of failure. Folks who are successful at starting their own business are successful because their business is numero uno and nothing will get in the way of their success. Anything you want to start doing, if you feel it's valuable to you and worth your time and energy, you have to treat the same way. Otherwise don't even bother.

If you KIND of want to get into shape, you'll fail. If you think it would be "nice", you'll fail. If you don't have a solid plan for carrying it through, you'll fail. If it doesn't because a huge and super important part of your life, you'll fail. I don't care if you just want to pick up juggling. If you don't plan on juggling every single day, then don't even waste the time doing it on the first day. Seriously, don't.

"Wait, so now you're telling me not to bother?"

Think about the thing you want to do. Is it something that's important enough to you that you're willing to dedicate a portion of your life to it every single day? If the answer is no, then throw it away. Clearly you don't want it badly enough. It would just be a waste of your time and energy, and would leave you feeling bad about your failure. That accomplishes nothing. I want to feel good about myself. I want to be successful. I only pick things that are super important to me, and I treat them as such. I don't need motivation. I don't need to think. I just start doing it, and keep doing it, until I die.

Got it?


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  3. excellent! Thank you for this powerful piece of writing. Motivation is just an excuse for inaction. Valuable things hurt, that's why the majority of people prefer to stay mediocre, but sadly they don't want to admit this fact.

  4. Routine and Motivation - thank you for explaining why routine is powerful
    Make Exercise a routine !

    1. Yes, the Power of Habits is too overlooked but it is the true way we operate as Human Beings.

      Much of our actions are under our level of consciousness, that's why routines are the only tools at our disposal to make things happen.

      Without routines we just 'survive', constantly lost in a huge fog in which we don't understand anything, in which we don't have any change to find the path towards excellence.