With a winter storm bearing down on the Northeast yesterday, I walked into the gym and it was overflowing with people, with every treadmill taken, and it stayed that way all morning – and up until the early storm closing at 1 pm. Seeing all those folks there got me thinking about the difference between motivation and commitment.
Those at the gym were the committed… the people who took time out of preparing for the storm to make sure they got their workouts in – knowing that it was unlikely that they would be able to get to the gym on Saturday during the blizzard. They had planned ahead, making themselves and their workouts a priority, even as the snow began to fall outside.
So often I hear people say “I’m just not motivated enough to get in shape or lose weight [or change whatever habits they’d like to change].” But it’s not really about motivation. Motivation is what happens when you see that picture of yourself looking unacceptable. Or when you realize that “enough is enough” and something needs to change. Motivation happens in the moment. Motivation is that resolution that you set on January 1st, pledging that this will be the year of the “new you.” Motivation is exciting – it gets you started, but it won’t get you the finish line.
That’s because motivation is transient. One day you wake up and you just don’t FEEL motivated anymore. Maybe you’re tired, or you’re stressed, or you feel crappy, or sorry for yourself. Your motivation needle drops to zero and before you know it, you’re back to your old ways. Not exercising. Digging into the freezer for that pint of Ben and Jerry’s. And probably feeling miserable about yourself for “just not being motivated enough to reach your goal.” Again. Damn. And the cycle repeats.
In those dark moments when motivation fails you, what you really NEED to summon is your commitment. Commitment is a powerful force that takes a stand for you and your priorities today, tomorrow, and the next day. Commitment is rooted in the why behind what you wanted to change. To be healthy, to be fit, to be happy, to start that business. It’s hard to put yourself and your priorities first. Somewhere along the way so many of us get taught that it’s “selfish” to put yourself first. But if we don’t take care of ourselves we can’t truly care for others.
Commitment is focus. It means putting yourself at the top of your to do list, blocking out time in your schedule for your workout, and saying no to people who will sabotage your efforts. Commitment is a mindset that you have a new and healthier habit now.
Motivation happens in the moment. Commitment happens everyday.
Live your commitment.
Posted in Fitness, Growing, Thinking
Tagged beginnings, commitment, fitness, goals, health, inspiration, motivation, resolutions, running, thinking, weight
Exactly five years ago on a snowy trip to Portland, Maine, I got honest with myself about the state of my health and fitness and began an amazing life-changing adventure that encompassed weight loss, taking up running, and so much more.
Since then, I’ve logged more than 3500 miles of running. I’ve run morning, noon and night. Through snow and heat. On vacation and during my hardest months at work. I’ve run 6 miles down Oregon’s Mt. Hood in a raging thunderstorm at 4:30 am, and I’ve run on a deserted beach in Costa Rica at dawn. I’ve run in at least 17 states from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. I’ve had fabulous runs, crappy runs, and lots of just plain average runs. I’ve had to struggle to get out some days, but have never regretted doing so.
Through it all I’ve met friends from all across the country who share this passion for running, traveling and adventure-seeking. I’ve run fifty races including dozens of 5ks and 10ks, 12 half marathons, one marathon, and the Hood to Coast Relay. And I’m working my way toward a goal of running a half marathon in each of the 50 states.
It’s been a grand adventure. As Bart Yasso says “never limit where running can take you” – and for me, that’s been both a physical and a mental thing. Running has taken me to new destinations, but also to a new place mentally.
I’ve gained confidence that I can do anything that I put my mind to doing. I’ve learned that even after a lifetime of couchdom, I can get fit, and stay fit for the long haul. I’ve struggled to get faster and also learned to be satisfied with what I can do. I’ve inspired friends to take up running and celebrated their accomplishments (frequently over post-race pancakes!), become a certified running coach, and started my own coaching business, Run To Your Life.
Almost five years ago I sweated and struggled through my first minutes of the Couch to 5K program. I was miserable and it was hard, but I had decided that I needed to start to exercise regularly if I was going to lose weight and keep it off. That first mile was – without a doubt – the hardest mile I’ve ever done. And I only wish I had started sooner.
For anyone contemplating taking up running in the New Year, don’t even give it a second thought – and as Bart says: never limit where running can take you!
Are you making a New Year resolution? Or simply wanting to do something differently in the coming year? You know that if you’re going to be successful, you need to maintain your motivation day after day, and week after week. That takes commitment. It’s not going to be enough to say “I want to lose 10 pounds” or “I want to start exercising” or “I want to launch my new business” unless you really get in touch with the WHY behind your want. What’s the motivation that will keep you going when the going gets tough, you have a bad day, or your “resolution” fails? We’ve all got different motivations… and getting in touch with them is key to making lasting lifestyle change.
Here’s what motivates me:
Power: When I’m taking care of myself, I feel strong, powerful, and capable of doing just about anything. I can quiet the negative voices in my head that try to sabotage me. I bring a positive outlook to life, rather than complaining or feeling like a victim. I feel more aware and alive – controlling my destiny and not just reacting to what happens. From this place of power, I can choose to continue to grow and to learn.
Goals: Having a goal that I’m working toward helps keep everything else in perspective. I am less bothered by the “little things” – annoyances that might creep into my day — when I am taking care of the things that are important to me. When I have short and long-term goals, I always have something new to discover or a reason to celebrate. I have my head up — looking out toward the horizon rather than at all the little bumps in the asphalt.
Health: Health is a huge motivator, especially as we add years. I know that because I have lost weight and gotten fit I am healthier than I was a decade ago. That’s more than just a feeling; it is supported by objective data from the doctor’s office. I am hopeful that good health today will add quality of life in future years.
Inspiration: It feels great when other people tell me that I have motivated them to exercise or lose weight. I realize that I can be a positive force for good and that others can learn from what I am doing for myself.
Seeing Results: I love it when the scale “rewards” my efforts. Even though it’s still the same “me” in the mirror, my brain reports that I look better when I’m headed in the right direction.
Energy and Speed: I have much more energy when I’m on track and don’t just drag myself through the day. I also know that on average, each pound lost means 2 seconds off my per mile race pace. I love setting PRs in my races and I love the satisfaction of getting faster even as I get older.
Your list most likely isn’t the same as mine, it’s unique to you. But having it – and writing it down somewhere that you can see it and remind yourself — will be helpful to you as you set on your journey of making meaningful changes in your life.
So… what motivates YOU? What are the whys behind your wants?
Posted in Growing, Running, Thinking
Tagged change, coaching, fitness, goals, health, inspiration, life, motivation, resolutions, running