4 ways to maintain motivation

Jan 22, 2018
Ashley Ann Lawrie

In our new year’s blog post we presented the stats on New Year’s resolutions. At this point, a large percentage of New Year’s resolutions have already been abandoned and many more are going to follow in the coming weeks. This past Monday was also the infamous “blue Monday” – apparently the saddest day of the year. With the rush of enthusiasm and energy from the holidays slowly starting to fade and we settle back into our daily routines, it is increasingly easier to let those new year’s resolutions slide. For many of us reading this from Ottawa, we are also having to adapt to some crazy weather, which can sap our energy and leave us looking to curl up on the couch to binge on Netflix and comfort food. This week we thought it was important to give you some tools to get yourself back on track and not only boost motivation, but also maintain that motivation.

To start, motivation is not a zero-sum game – ie. you can’t expect to be motivated 100% of the time. There are going to be really good days and there are going to be really bad days. In fact, researchers have discovered that your will-power – which works hand-in-hand with motivation – is in limited supply every day. Like your muscles, your will power can be fatigued when overused. Which brings us to our first tip to maintain motivation:


1. Know your limit – play within it


Along with being a great motto for all things in life, this tip is all about taking things step-by-step. Some of you may have made some really ambitious goals at the beginning of the month, and that is great! What you need to reflect on is that the steps you take to get there are just that – steps – not leaps and bounds. Asking yourself to make a complete 180 from old habits to new, healthier ones will exhaust your will power and leave you feeling depleted of motivation. Once depleted, you will find it very difficult to hit the gym instead of the snooze button. Look at the goals you made this year and re-evaluate how you are going to reach them, keeping your limited will-power in mind.


2. Build your goals into your routine


Dipping into the daily will-power bank is only required when we have to resist the temptation to do something else. So if you really want your healthy resolutions to stick, they need to become something that is a part of your everyday life. Once getting to your training sessions, or meal prepping become part of that group of auto-pilot-activities, then there will be no other temptation to resist because it won’t even be a decision at that point. Many of our clients have shared with us that once exercises became a part of their routine, missing sessions required will-power.


3. Expect the Unexpected


So now that you have hacked your will power and made your healthy choices part of your daily/weekly routine, what happens when something comes up that you can’t get out of? Your kids get sick; your study group can only meet at one time and it is during your training session; the grocery store doesn’t have one of the ingredients for your favourite meal; there’s a major family or work event that you can’t skip out on. Do you skip your training session? Do you skip making that meal and grab something on the go? Absolutely not. Having a back up plan to help you stay on track means that you can never be thrown off your game. Even for life’s unexpected events, you can always be prepared so that you never have to sacrifice your goals. If you know that you have to be away for an event or you are travelling for work, either check ahead to see if where you’ll be has a gym or somewhere you can get out for some bodyweight exercises and cardio, or condense your workouts before you leave so that you don’t hinder the progression of your training. For those of you with dietary goals, have at least 2 or 3 back up meals that you love and can make in a pinch if something comes up and you are unable to make your planned meal for that day. Preparation is our best defence against the unpredictability of our daily lives, and will help you maintain motivation through even the craziest of days.


4. Celebrate Little-Wins


The power of positivity and optimism should not be taken lightly. It is widely understood in the neuroscience community that dopamine plays an important role in motivation. Dopamine release in the brain is linked to situations of success and reward, which really is subjective to everyone. What we believe to be a successful event in our lives, may not be successful to someone else. What this means is we can actually control the reward system in our brain by rewarding ourselves with little-wins every day. The more little wins, the more dopamine, and therefore the longer our motivation will last. Celebrating little wins is so simple! You just have to be open to viewing simple things as something worth celebrating. It’s as easy as seeing something like actually pushing through the final reps even though you thought you were done – as something to be excited about. 

On a final note, if your New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside in the last few days, don’t let that discourage you. Just because you didn’t do it perfectly doesn’t mean you have to give up on it entirely. Pick up right where you left off and try using some of these tips to maintain your motivation and continue working towards accomplishing this year’s goals.

Let us know in the comments what helps you maintain your motivation!

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