Motivation - The human side
The many faces of motivation
Have you ever gone to one of those spin or Bootcamp classes where the instructor yells the whole time? Did you feel like it pushed you to go harder or did it give you an immediate sense of wanting to flee?
How many of you are sick of reading articles shouting about motivation? How many of you have been left confused that this tip or that tip doesn't work for you?
Guess what? We're all different. What motivates you might do the exact opposite for someone else and vice versa.
I've seen it all. The trick is to find out what works for you.
I've compiled a bunch of examples that I have seen in my clients.
Different types of motivation are not really specific to age or gender. A man can be motivated by validation as much as a woman can be motivated by competition. Sometimes cultural stereotypes can even get in the way of people discovering their motivator.
Do any of these sound familiar? I would love to hear what works for you. I've added a little tiny mini quiz at the end. I would be super grateful for your thoughts.
So often people come to me because they need a sense of outer accountability. They find it hard to train on their own. They'll come up with 10,000 other things that are more important than training.
For some people, this works because they know that I am there, expecting them to turn up. For others, because they have committed money towards it and don't want to waste it.
Many people respond to verbal pats on the back. This isn't about getting a participation trophy. It's simply being rewarded for small wins.
We don't get nearly enough positive reinforcement in our lives and a little encouragement can go a long way.
There is nothing better than seeing a client burst into a beaming smile after genuinely praising them on their improvement or style.
People want to know that they are doing the right thing. This ties in closely with accountability.
Quite a few clients send me photos of their food to show that they are eating according to their plan, or when they are being active outside of sessions.
Feeling validated can be an extremely important motivator for some. Again, this is not something you get often in your normal day to day life and can have a huge impact on how you feel about staying on track.
Competition with Others
It may seem obvious that competition is a motivator (for some it could be the exact opposite).
You might want to be faster, stronger, more flexible than your training partner, friend or colleague. It can give you a tremendous sense of achievement.
You may also be motivated by seeing the success of others, like someone at the gym doing a really interesting movement or a transformation on Instagram (this comes with its own risks - don't believe everything you see!).
Competition with Yourself
If competition with others isn't your thing, maybe it's because you're super competitive with yourself.
Time and again I see clients who push hard because they want to beat their own record for the weights, reps, their last measurements. They feel a huge sense of achievement when they have surpassed their personal best or smashed that goal.
Think about how you feel when you "level up". This is how gamification become such a buzz word! It's just you being in competition with yourself.
The Right Goals
A sense of achievement. We've mentioned this a few times already. When we sit down together and set out your goals, what we're doing is working out where you want to go, and where you will get the most satisfaction, the biggest sense of achievement.
It is super important to be realistic and achievable here. If your goal is too far away or unattainable, it becomes the opposite of motivation.
Do you respond when someone pushes you to finish that last rep on that super heavy weight or keep sprinting those last few metres? Do you go harder when the instructor yells at the class or directly at you? Maybe you're the opposite?
Pressure is extremely divisive. People often respond either very positively or very negatively to outward pressure.
You might respond well to pressure in your work-life - a fast approaching deadline might be the motivation you needed to get super creative and come up with the best solution. Training may or may not work in the same way.
A simple and often overlooked motivator is what happens when you start to feel good. Feelings of happiness, more energy and strength can be a huge influence in getting yourself motivated to keep going - even more so than seeing results like fat loss.
This is more about being aware of de-motivators. Sometimes, if you don't feel psychologically safe in an environment, it can turn into a massive deterrent and can even lead to injury.
If you are in a class that feels too aggressive or too advanced and you don't feel safe enough to ask a question or to listen to your body when it says no, you can get so turned off that it takes you a long time to get back to training. In extreme cases, you run the risk of injury by pushing too hard.
As trainers, we are mandated to make you feel comfortable and safe. You trust us with your health and we understand that sometimes you may feel vulnerable. It is our job to make sure you feel safe, physically and emotionally, at all times.
Or faking it til you make it...
Taking into account all of the above, sometimes tricking yourself into it is a good way to kick start. Working out more can motivate you to eat healthier. Eating healthier can motivate you to work out more. Pushing through when you feel shitty and just can't be bothered might be what you needed to get you to the place of feeling better.
I would love to hear your stories and any motivators (or de-motivators) that I may have missed! Drop me a line or take the super quick, totally anonymous quiz.
Update: Check out the most recent quiz results summary in this follow on article.