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Motivation Articles  ›  Staying Motivated

Mastering the Mysteries of Motivation - Part 1

Understanding Motivation

-- By Dean Anderson, Behavioral Psychology Expert
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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

  • 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
  • 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
  • This was a great article and one I personally needed. Thanks for the heads up. - 12/17/2013 11:02:01 AM
  • Personally, I often look at my family (1 individual) being a mood killing.
    It seems that when I try to grow or attempting to change the "normal", I have received the untrue reasons that now is not the time.
    Starting today, I will be the individual that I have been created to be!! - 11/12/2013 10:10:52 AM
  • I wish this was the case for me. My motivation has been drastically declining the past couple weeks. I'm pretty sure that I know the reason - I've lost a lot of weight and I feel good about where I am. Although, I still have 5-7 pounds to lose to get to my goal, I've let myself by happy where I am (which, I know, is a good thing), but it's also giving me reasons to ignore everything I've learned and worked hard for. I need someone to kick my butt in gear! - 11/12/2013 7:41:34 AM
  • This really hit home! I've been reading alot about loving yourself and forgiving yourself. This just goes hand in hand! I would recommend this article to any/everyone. It should be read and reread! - 10/31/2013 6:08:35 PM
  • I totally agree and I wont give up or hard on myself. - 10/27/2013 2:38:30 PM
  • So pleased to read this article. I saw myself in much of what's in here, beating myself up for not doing what I'd said I would and at the end of the day gaining weight. And now as I'm recovering from a fractured leg I am beginning to pick myself up again. So I'm setting up some streaks regarding being positive. - 8/11/2013 7:21:47 PM
  • I completely agree. The ups and downs of the scale are so unpredictable. I've noticed that those up weeks really make it harder to continue.

    I've also noticed in others the way they get so upset with themselves if they lose control and end up giving up or "starting over". I never quit so I never have to start over. I just try really hard to make a conscious decision over the amount I eat. I have accepted the fact that I will not be perfect all the time. I think this helps me to limit my overeating to 1 meal instead of a whole day or a whole week.

    I am looking forward to the next article! - 8/9/2013 2:51:30 PM