You Can Do It!: Why “Getting Motivated” Doesn’t Work

The “daily recommended dose” of physical activity in the United States is 30 minutes. On the surface, this may seem like an insignificant amount of time. Which it is.

However, when you look at statistics, it’s obvious that most people aren’t motivated enough to get in those 30 minutes on a regular basis. For instance:

Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 minutes of regular activity a day…

Only 33% meet the “recommended” amount of exercise per week…

And 73% of people who set out to exercise regularly, give up.

So, what’s the rub? It’s only 30 minutes of physical activity that we’re shooting for, which can’t be that hard. Right?

Well, there’s a little more to the story than this. So, let’s take a look at what’s going on.

I Need to “Get Motivated” First

When it comes to getting fit and strong, we all have good intentions. Maybe you’ve joined a gym once or twice (or 3 or 5 times). Or maybe you used to go for regular walks with your friend.

No matter who you are, if you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve found yourself in some sort of situation like this. And, if you’re still reading, it’s likely that you’ve quit a number of different fitness endeavors in your lifetime.

First, let me assure you. This doesn’t make you a bad person. On the contrary, it just makes you human. However, what it does make you bad at is choosing the right strategy.

You see, many people start an exercise routine because they feel like they have to. Which is the wrong reason to start. Because, eventually, you’ll quit because you just “weren’t motivated” enough to stick with it.

And the more this happens, the more of a failure you feel like. And the more you fail, the less likely you are to want to try to get in shape again.

Or, maybe you decided to never start that workout program in the first place. Maybe you keep telling yourself that you’ll get started when you “have the motivation”. And the more you wait and wait and wait, the more you see that motivation isn’t just going to show up on its own.

The Motivation Fallacy

You’ve been duped into believing that motivation is the thing that you need BEFORE you start exercising or before you decide to quit your job to pursue your passion or before you decide to take your financial freedom into your own hands.

Many times, in fact, most times, motivation typically doesn’t come until after the fact. To illustrate my point, let me tell you about an interesting study…

A British Research team wanted to know how well motivational information would do on getting people to exercise more. To do so, they created 3 groups:

Group #1 was the control group. They weren’t given any information or asked to change anything about their behavior.

Group #2 was the motivation group. They were given motivational information on the benefits of exercise to see how much of an impact it had on how much they worked out.

Group #3 was the motivation+ group. They were given the same motivational information as group #2. On top of that, they were also told to set an implementation intention (more on this soon).

The findings of this study are what really puts a damper in the motivation argument. As you would guess, Group #1 had no change in behavior or motivation.

Group #2 reported being more motivated to work out. That’s great news! However, ironically, over the course of the study, this group actually DECREASED their exercise.

Group #3 also reported being more motivated to work out. And, over the same period of time, they INCREASED their exercise time by almost 100%. The only thing that was different? They set implementation intentions.

(On a side note, the researchers also found the 3 most popular excuses for why participants DIDN’T exercise. In order: forgetting to exercise, not having time to exercise, not getting around to exercise. Sound familiar?)

The Smoking Gun to Your Success

“What the heck is any implementation intention?” you ask. That’s the right question. Because knowing this strategy alone can increase your success in so many different areas of your life. So let’s break it down.

As it sounds, an implementation intention is a way to decide to do some by INTENTIONALLY setting up how you’re going to do. Sounds obvious, right? Wrong. If it were obvious, we’d all be doing it.

The truth it, it is that simple. The problem is, simple is often overlooked for the more complex. There are some “best practices” when it comes to setting an implementation intention. If you follow these steps, you’ll be more likely to pursue your goals, whatever they may be.

First, the intention should be set up in the following sentence structure:

I will [ACTION] at [TIME] in [LOCATION].

Where ACTION is the thing you’re going to do…

TIME is when you’re going to do it…

And LOCATION is where you’re going to do it.

So, for instance, if you want to start exercising, your implementation intention might look like this…

I will do group classes at 5:30 pm at Thriveology (you like what I did there?).

Or, if you want to get outside more, it might look like this…

I will go for a walk at 6:30 pm in the park.

PRO TIP: If you really want to increase your odds of success, be specific about the days as well. So, if you want to exercise 3 days a week, you might say…

I will do group classes at 5:30 pm at Thriveology on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

This way, you’ve defined the ACTION, TIME, LOCATION and DAYS. In other words, you’ve made this habit more intentional. And when you can do that, you’ll be much more likely to succeed.

Never overlook the simple things in life. We all hope to be motivated to do the things we want to do. But if we all waited for the right amount of motivation, we’d probably still be living in the Stone Ages.

Set your intentions. And don’t be afraid to PUSH yourself toward motivation instead of waiting for it to come to you.

Are you ready to set your fitness intentions for the Summer?

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Summer fit, keep your calories down, and unleash your inner beast mode!

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