In the part one of this article on How To Stay Motivated to Workout (A Formula) we looked at the motivation equation and it’s 4 components.
We covered the first 2 components in detail. In this article we would cover the other 2 components known as Impulsiveness and Delay and offer strategies to overcome these.
Also in this article I would show you how I use a simple cube like device that can distort your concept of time: making a 2 hour workout feel like 20 minutes!
Please read the first article here. I strongly recommend that you do or else this article would be difficult to follow.
This is how susceptible you are to putting off a task such as working out or dieting and choosing to do something else instead.
Here are some ideas on how to reduce impulsiveness:
1) Pre-commit by telling your friends about your workout and diet plans.
If you plan to do yoga classes for a month then immediately call up a friend and tell him or her. Let them know the exact date when you are starting and which program you are going to follow.
You can also post your plans on social media or pay three months of gym fees in advance.
These are fun and it involves you losing some cash if you falter! Now that’s motivation! They also have lots of cool graphs charting your progress…a motivator on its own!
Personally I find pre-commitment to be one of the best ways to ensure that you take action towards your goals. After all who wants to be labelled as the guy or girl who is all talk but no action!
2) Burnt Ships Technique
Here you want to remove all distractions preventing you from achieving your goals.
So this may include things like:
- Throwing out all unhealthy snacks from your pantry. If it’s not there then it wouldn’t tempt you!
- Leaving your laptop at the office if it tempts you to go home and to look at NETFLIX instead of doing yoga when you get home
- Stocking up your kitchen with only healthy foods and snacks.
- Selling video games and other distractors on e-bay or Craigslist.
To give an example of ‘burnt ships’ when I started my weight loss journey I gave away most of my very large shirts and jeans.
I remember staying with only one pair of jeans and 2 T-shirts for casual use. That way I HAD to lose weight before I resumed having some sort of social life.
3) Time Boxing or Pomodoro Technique
This is placing limits on the time you choose to perform something.
If there are conflicting tasks competing for your attention and you tell yourself that you have a 2 hour workout awaiting you then you may most likely put if off.
But if you have a twenty minute workout then it would be easier to allocate the time to it.
Chances are once you commence the workout then you may well exceed the twenty minutes that was allocated to it.
Personally I find that using an external timing device works wonders!
When the brain ‘sees’ an external concrete device that is timing you it motivates the brain even more to reach the designated time. It is as if that block of time goes into the physical device.
I use this Datexx Cube timer. It’s really cool looking, fun and by just looking at it blinking whilst it times you makes you want to push and finish that workout.
4) Task Outsourcing
You may put off your fitness and diet plans because you genuinely have other tasks competing for your time.
In this case see if you can outsource some of these tasks to a friend or family member.
It don’t have to cost you anything. You can trade one of your core skills for that of another.
For e.g. one of my good friends is a chef and he has flexible hours. Another has an accounting services business and puts in long hours.
My chef friend needs accounting services and my accounting friend needs cooked meals. So they trade cooked meals and accounting services with each other!
It’s a win-win for both of them.
Delay is how far off in the future the reward is perceived to be. The further the reward is perceived the lower is motivation.
Imagine someone telling you that it would take you ten years to get the body of their dreams! Not very motivating right?
Humans are wired to choose immediate gratification over long term benefits according to Michelle Segar, author of No Sweat.
You can’t manipulate Delay directly as it is time based but what you can do is change your perception on how you perceive time.
Here are some ideas on how to reduce delay:
1) Break goals into sub- goals and sub-sub goals! Sub-goals defeat delay!
Goals are powerful when the finish line is imminent and just ahead of you. Aim to create many sub-finish lines as you move forward.
Ivan Basso, one of the best mountain bike riders of all time sets a series of targets each time he races.
The interesting thing is this: each target is within sight and just 30 seconds away! His focus is just on finishing each 30 second block! One at a time. 30 seconds at a time.
So don’t be afraid to break up that 12 week workout plan into one week blocks and even take it further by breaking up each 1 week block into 1 day blocks.
This method of breaking down goals also impacts your brain directly by engaging the cortex areas and quieting down the amygdala.
You can’t engage the cortex effectively if the amygdala is hyper….and you need the cortex to succeed at anything….exams, dieting, driving etc.
Dr. Robert Maurer, author of One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way sums it up nicely in this formula:
Small Goal = Fear Bypassed = Cortex Engaged = Success
Look, if this technique of sub -goals can work for Navy Seals whom are some the baddest and lethal men on the planet then it can work for anyone….you and I included.
This is the one effective strategy I have found that works for manipulating delay. Now we can say we are time benders!
An Overused Word
The word motivation is sometimes overused giving it either an abstract New Age label or an old outdated management theory label.
There are other opinions and thoughts on motivation and I would definitely write more on these in future articles.
But I feel these two articles would be a good place to start as it gives us a more concrete way of tweaking the 4 factors to get some good ole motivation going on.
Experts say that you can’t rely on motivation only as it comes and go and it’s better to rely on habits and routines. I agree with this but to a point. There are times that even I don’t feel like training or eating clean.
But I do think you need motivation to fuel those habits and routines. It makes no sense showing up for gym or yoga because it’s just a routine and habit and giving it only a half- hearted effort…..consistently half-hearted that is.
Be on the lookout for goals that are not fun anymore or that are boring. Goals should ignite you and not bore you.
If something becomes a drag to you then no amount of habit and routines would make it fun and you’ll quit eventually…habit or no habit.
So if a goal doesn’t excite you don’t be afraid to eliminate it.
Use the various strategies outlined and discussed here to manipulate your motivation.
Remember to increase your Expectancy and Value and reduce your Impulsiveness and Delay.
Once you do that achieving your goals would become easier.
Please share your thoughts and comments for the benefit of the other readers and myself as we all have different ways of motivating ourselves.