"I've lost my motivation."
"I just can't seem to find the motivation I need to stick to this."
"I do fine for a couple days, but then I just can't seem to stay motivated."
How many times have you said something like this to yourself? Probably more than a few times, if you're like me.
But have you ever wondered where your motivation goes when you lose it? If you knew that, it would probably be a lot easier to find it again, right?
If I had $10 for every hour I've spent trying to track down my motivation, or wondering what's wrong with me when I couldn't find it, I'd be rich. Still unmotivated, but rich. But all that wasted time and mental energy did teach me one important thing: that my motivation hadn't gone anywhere. It was my mind that had gone wandering off in the wrong direction, like a blindfolded contestant in a pin the tail on the donkey game.
Motivation isn't something you can find or lose, or something you can get from anyone or anything else. If you really want to accomplish something, you already have all the motivation you need, and there's nothing to go looking for.
The problem for me was that there were lots of other things I wanted too, and some of them didn't mesh too well with the things I had to do in order to accomplish my weight loss and health goals. Like wanting to chill out on the couch for a while instead of hitting the gym, or endulge in a little comfort eating at the local pizza parlor instead of chopping and steaming those veggies on my menu.
If you find yourself choosing the couch and the treat more often than you'd like, the absolute WORST thing you can do is to start thinking that you've lost your motivation. That just makes you feel helpless and down on yourself, and/or sends you off on a wild goose chase looking for something you already have.
What you actually need to do is train your wandering mind to remember how much you really want to accomplish your goal and how good it feels to do what it takes to make this happen. When you can remember that feeling, and call it to mind in the moment when you actually have to choose between chilling on the couch and doing your exercise, or between the pizza and the steamed veggies, making the decision you want to make will be much easier. You may still decide to go for the couch and the pizza once in a while, but you'll know it's your decision, and not the result of some mysterious problem called "lack of motivation." And that will be OK. You won't need to get all worried about losing your motivation, or get down on yourself, because you'll know you can make a different decision whenever you want to.
The real motivation-killer is thinking that "being motivated" means not having these conflicts between opposing desires, or expecting that you'll do the "right" thing every time. That's what leads to feeling guilty or defective, and beating up on yourself--and that's about as helpful as a broken leg is to a runner. Sometimes, cutting yourself some slack is just what you need.
So, here's my advice: stop wondering where your motivation went, and kick all that negative self-talk to the curb. Instead, come up with at least one thing you can do to help train your brain to remember how motivated you really are. Here's a link with some suggestions to get you started.
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