A Meditation on Motivation

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Jonathan Doing a Tire Flip

Even in normal times with ready access to gyms and fitness studios, many people struggle with the mysterious, nebulous, almost mythical concept of ‘motivation.’

The difficulty with motivation has everything to do with a massive misconception of what it is.

Below is an excerpt from an article I read this week.

My old goal was simply to get to the gym three days a week — and I made it easy on myself by going immediately after work or first thing on a Saturday morning. It became automatic. I haven’t found a similarly easy way to ensure I work out at home three days a week.

People feel adrift and disconnected from the motivation to workout because, for the most part, they never had any.

This is not to be mean or pick on them at all.  It indicates the problem with our concept of motivation.

Your Goal Probably Is Not Even a Goal

“Get to the gym three days a week” is NOT a goal. It is a behavior. An action.  You might as well say you want to go to college and major in taking four classes each semester. 

The routine and structure of many people’s lives is the only thing keeping them into workouts. In many cases it is just a behavior linked to the workday (‘workout’ even has ‘work’ in the name!) So it forever feels like another obligation, chore, and to-do item.

Take away the routine and structure and many people immediately lose the exercise behavior.  What’s the fix? Conceptually, it is simple.  Practically, you might need to do a little bit of soul-searching and thought – never a bad thing!

Reframe Fitness

To me, fitness = freedom.  The freedom to do what I want (within reason) with my body and feel good doing while having no worries about my body. It is linked to the feeling of abandon and being lost in play we have as children where you are not “in your head” about movement.  You are just running around chasing friend, hopping fences, climbing trees, dodging snowballs, and throwing them in return, etc.

With obese parents I have seen first-hand the limitations and the world-shrinking that occurs when you lose ability.

(Almost) Infinite Motivation

For me then, motivation comes from something is physically challenging and playful. This is why I can look blissed out in the photo above while flipping a tire that is incredibly heavy. And this motivation is nearly endless – I love playing with the world and my body is my game piece.

What is the “Forever Motivation” for you?  Let that bake in your mental oven for a day or two and see what the result is.

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