Motivation Articles

Mastering the Mysteries of Motivation

Understanding Motivation

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The second most common cause of a motivational slump is expecting yourself to be perfect. The idea that anyone can (or should) never overeat or never skip a workout is a form of false pride. Why would anyone think that she'll be the first human being in history to pull this off, or that if you don't, you must be a miserable failure? The emotional upset of failed perfectionism can make it virtually impossible to stay motivated.

If you're holding yourself to a standard of perfection, or verbally abusing yourself for those bad days, give yourself a break. You must accept the fact that, along with the rest of us, sometimes your human appetites or feelings are going to win out over your good intentions—and it's NOT that big of a deal. Allow these occasions to teach you more about yourself, so that you can learn to do things differently.

But this learning won't happen if you spend your time and energy obsessing about your slip-ups, or getting down on yourself. That kind of useless self-abuse is just a smokescreen you are using to avoid your real responsibilities and opportunities. It is the polar opposite of honest self-appraisal, no matter how “true” or “real” it might feel to you. These may seem like harsh words, but getting past this problem is really critical to success. Trust me, I had to learn this the hard way, and that cost me a lot of painful years and wasted effort. So, save yourself a lot of grief, and learn how to keep things in perspective and avoid unnecessary drama.

You've learned what motivation really is—taking responsibility for conscious actions—and how to prevent it from waning. The next article in this series will help you build up that much needed motivation and keep it for the long haul.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • Thank you Dean Anderson for this article. I woke up depressed and feeling like a failure. You put the spark back in my eyes. I was a hopeless perfectionist before reading this article. Thank you for helping me to see that I can recover from an error in judgement. I feel like I have been given the license to leave yesterday behind and look foward to today. I am in control. Thank you for reminding me that I am in control because before this article I felt powerless. - 4/18/2015 9:08:22 AM
  • Perfectionism is my biggest pitfall.
    If i have to miss a workout for any reason, I beat myself up over it and work doubly hard next time, often resulting in exhaustion or injury.
    So frustrating, not being able to let myself relax now and then and accept that there are just some days when life gets in the way and other things have to take priority.
    The worst of it is my poor husband has to suffer my low mood until I get my next workout in. - 4/12/2015 11:31:02 PM
  • WYATT18
    Just the article this "all or nothing" person needed today!! Thanks so much! - 4/11/2015 7:14:26 AM
  • FOXGLOVE999
    Great article. The inability to delay gratification is a huge and growing problem in the U.S. The constant victimization of the population is another, with 12 step programs for everything. Bringing us the message, that "it's not your fault, a higher power will relieve you". How ridiculous.
    - 10/5/2014 9:19:41 AM
  • KATARINE66
    @awogen :
    on the top of the page, there is a "more" picture, on the right of Pininterest.
    Click on this "more" picture, then click on the heart. That's done ! the page will remain in your Spark favorites !
    Katarine - 9/8/2014 7:44:50 AM
  • I wish that Spark had a way to bookmark things on their page that you find particularly helpful. I'd like to mark this so I can read it regularly, but I can only bookmark it on my browser. - 6/9/2014 5:42:44 PM
  • So true & real! Thank you Dean. - 5/12/2014 1:28:53 AM
  • WICKFORD64
    This video keeps me inspired when I feel I cant take one more step for one more day. /www. sparkpeople. com/resource/moti
    vation_articl
    es.asp?id=630 - 3/29/2014 9:33:57 PM
  • SWEET-SUE
    Things I never gave much thought to before...was too busy beating myself up, over "slipping up". One more reason I think SP is an answer to prayer. I read this just in the nick of time...as I was about to give up and over indulge.

    Thank you! Saved by the bell...I mean article! - 2/21/2014 2:52:35 PM
  • I really appreciated this article! It helped me to put things in perspective, and take a more balanced view of those times when I do not meet my own expectations! Obviously my expectations may not be so much the culprit as those hidden backsliding behaviors. - 2/9/2014 6:44:58 PM
  • Paraphrasing this and putting this in my blog because it fits me to a tee! - 1/16/2014 6:37:16 PM
  • I hope I can remain as motivated as I am right now through the entire year. I should say to myself each day: yes I can!!! - 1/16/2014 2:41:40 PM
  • I really needed to read this, thanks! - 1/16/2014 12:28:25 PM
  • Thank you Dean, you are so sensible. Your stuff is something I read without hesitation. It seems so well researched and thought out. - 1/16/2014 11:34:44 AM
  • Thanks Dean! I really needed to read this article today. I will read the whole series. Thanks for helping me fight this constant battle with my brain! - 1/7/2014 4:29:36 PM

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