One common question for anyone who exercises regularly is “How do you stay motivated?” The answer is always “I don’t”.
As anyone who trains knows, motivation is temporary. This is true whether you are training competitively or for fun.
Instead, it’s discipline that counts, especially when you’ve spent years in the game and the beginner fuss has faded.
But discipline does not come out of nowhere. It is planted. And in order to grow any real discipline, you have to know the “why”.
For Steve Murray, a personal trainer and mixed martial artist from Manchester, knowing the “why” is “crucial”, as it will explain the difference between simply caring about something and being committed to it.
The importance of finding the “why”
He told Metro.co.uk: “For me, understanding the ‘why’ will help you determine your level of commitment to the process and the inevitable challenges you will face in order to achieve what you want.
Psychologist Dr. Josephine Berry agrees. In her book The Ten Pillars of Success, “Purpose” is one of the cornerstones of achieving your goals.
Purpose consists of three elements; The direction it directs us, the need to contribute to the wider world and the ability to act steadily.
It becomes a kind of scaffolding [that we can use]so instead of avoiding difficult situations, we approach them with intent.
She says that people with a strong purpose – or ‘why’ – are known to be above average health, feel a sense of mastery, have higher quality relationships, are more resilient, and can develop coping mechanisms to combat stress and distress.
Josephine adds that “knowing why” exercise is important to motivate us because it gives us the ability to get past all the useless excuses we make for ourselves: It’s too cold, I’m too tired, and I’ll never get better.”
With ‘why’ we hear excuses but still want to practice them, even in spite of them.
But what exactly is your “why,” and how do you find it?
How to find the “why” to exercise
Everyone’s reason for practicing will be different, but, as Steve notes, it shouldn’t be one-dimensional and should be part of a broader picture of personal development.
Carly Rowena, founder of wellness app Moodment, takes the seconds on this and stresses the importance of digging deeper while trying to find what works for you.
It is a great exercise to write down the first goal that comes to your mind [when you think about your reasons for exercising]she told Metro.co.uk.
The key is not to stop at the first cause.
If the reason is that you want to get fit for the new year, ask yourself why.
If it’s because you want to look good for a particular party, ask yourself why again.
You may feel confident – but why would you want to feel confident?
Basically, introspection is the key.
Carly says: ‘Keep on asking until you get to the bottom line.
“It may take a few tries until you can be completely honest with yourself.”
How to find your “why”
Questions You Can Ask Help You Find “Why”:
- How do you want to feel?
- Who do you do this for?
- How do you measure your success?
- How does this version of you look, feel, and act?
Thought Experiments to Find “Why”:
- Put all the bullet points of what might be on one sheet of paper and rewrite and rewrite until they are combined and become more compact.
- Write your ideal Wikipedia page – what do you want it to say about you.
- Imagine you are in a rocking chair in the 80’s – what achievement would you be proud of?
- Look through your phone’s photos. Is there a topic? What do they tell you about what matters to you?
Carly Rowena and Dr. Josephine Perry
It is also important that you continue to introspect over the years.
“Ultimately, as you progress closer to your goals, you’ll need to keep evaluating in order to make progress,” Carly says.
“Just like in life, we all have milestones that are important to us, and the same goes for fitness — you grow with your goals.”
Perhaps the “why” when it comes to fitness is as simple as making new friends or getting out of the house more. You don’t have to be a competitive athlete to stick to a goal.
But finding the “why” will be the difference between whether or not you will eventually achieve that goal.
As Steve says, “If you are able to find your own ’cause’, something that really resonates with you to the core, has multiple layers and transcends interest, then I have nothing but confidence in your ability to reach your goals.
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