The #1 question that I consistently get is:
“HOW DO I GET MOTIVATED TO DO SOMETHING?’
Table of Contents
The most common variation of this how do I get motivated to workout?
My initial answer is: motivation is overrated. Get disciplined instead.
In short: motivation is fleeting. Those people who who depend on motivation consistently start out with a big bang and fail as soon as something gets hard. As soon as the motivation dries up, they quit. The people who accomplish things get disciplined.
That said, if you’re still convinced you need motivation to get stuff done, I’ve decided to finally tackle this thing head-on. Here it is – Your Guide On How To Get Motivated To Workout
How To Get Motivated To Workout
The Iron & The Soul by Henry Rollins
This is the only piece of motivation you’ll need to workout.
Realize, even if you can’t do anything else, working out is the one thing you can control. That’s why I think fitness is the ultimate discipline.
Take Cold Showers
I say it over and over and over and over again.
If you think working out is “too hard”, start taking a cold shower every day.
It will be the hardest thing you do all day and you’ll start to realize how terrible your excuses really are.
Do 30 days of cold shower therapy and you’ll slowly find yourself turning into a stronger, more determined, badass-er vrsion of yourself.
If you don’t think this will work (like this guy), stop complaining and spend 5 minutes in a freezing shower before saying anything else.
Everyone who’s actually done it says otherwise.
I don’t know what exercise to do!
I don’t have a trainer!
I don’t have any equipment!
I don’t want to get hurt!
I don’t know how to exercise – it’s complicated!
That’s fine, and that’s why I’m going to give you the best exercise in the world: sprints.
The best exercise in the world.
Why? It’s simple:
Sprinting is one of the most human exercises you can do. You don’t need a gym. You don’t need special equipment. You don’t need a coach. You don’t need to learn. You don’t need a video tutorial. You don’t need anything really.
You just need to do it.
So how do you practically make that work? Try this on for size:
Your Sprint Workout
- Set a time. Hit Start
- Sprint for 30 seconds.
- Rest for 30 seconds.
- When the timer hits “20 Minutes” – you’re done.
BUT I STILL DON’T WANNNNAA
Cool story bro.
You need to stop talking to other people and finding other reasons for your problems and you need to have a talk with yourself instead.
Get up (right now). Go to the bathroom. Look in the mirror and stare at the person looking at you.
Then you have two options:
You look in the mirror and tell yourself:
I WANT TO WORKOUT BUT I’D RATHER EAT CHEESECAKE
Then go back to your kitchen, grab your cheesecake and convince yourself that that’s the most compelling excuse you can think of. Then go nuts with your cheesecake and enjoy (feel free to substitute cheesecake with whatever you want – sleeping, food, hulu, video games, etc).
But just remember that the next time you look at yourself in the mirror.
You look in the mirror and tell yourself:
I DON’T WANT TO WORKOUT, BUT I’M GOING TO ANYWAY.
Then put on your running shoes, get outside and start sprinting (no matter what the weather is outside).
Make It A Priority
The only difference between option 1 and option 2 are your priorities. That’s the only difference.
Don’t blame it on something else. Instead of feeling bad about it. Own it.
If eating cheesecake is more important to you than being healthy, living a long life and being there for your kids, that’s fine, but own that decision.
Instead of saying “I don’t wanna” or “it’s hard”, say “It is not a priority.”
Then, go look yourself in the mirror and say that to yourself. It puts things in a whole different perspective than empty-whining about where you’re not where you want to be.
Whenever someone asks me if I can help them to lose weight, I ask them, “How Bad Do You Want It?” If the answer isn’t “REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BAD” with a hint of desperation in their voice so much so that they’re a little out of breath, 9 times out of 10, they probably won’t succeed.
Realize You Have a Choice
You always have a choice.
Even if you don’t “feel” like it, you can still go do it anyways. You don’t have to be a slave to your feelings or motivations. You get to choose.
Motivation is fleeting. If you decide your actions are dependent on being 100% motivated 100% of the time, you probably won’t accomplish that much.
Everyone has an excuse. Only some people decide to believe them. You choose whatever story you want tell yourself. But always remember you get to choose.
Set Impossible Challenges
You might not be “motivated” because your goals aren’t something you think is worth pursuing.
In that case: Stop thinking so small. Create bigger challenges.
If you’re not motivated to run a 5k, then sign up for a triathlon, a half or a full marathon. If you’re crazy, start thinking about an ultra.
Aim higher. Pick something impossible. Then catch up to it.
Dream big by setting yourself seemingly impossible challenges. You will then have to catch up with them. – Richard Branson
Results Are The Best Motivation
“It’s easy to be motivated when you’re seeing results”
If I had a dollar for every person who’s gone through Impossible Abs and told me that that around week 3 or 4, I’d have…well…a lot of money :).
Seriously, seeing results in yourself is the best motivation out there. But, you have to step out and do something first. You don’t get results from doing nothing – you have to take the step first. In a sense, many times the motivation only comes AFTER you’ve taken action.
THE REALLY ANNOYING TRUTH
No one always wants to go work out.
But we try to to rationalize is that we’re different than everybody. That nobody knows exactly what how you feel. That your situation is incredibly unique to you. And that everybody else’s excuses are terrible, yours are somehow valid.
The annoying truth is that everybody feels that way at some point. It’s called being human.
But what you have to realize is that you’re dying. Your default state is atrophy. If you’re not consciously choosing to push yourself and grow, you’ll atrophy and decay automatically. That’s the default state of life.
No one ever gets better by doing nothing. So, if you want to get better, you’ll have to do something…and it won’t be easy.
Yes, It’s Hard – That’s The Point
Working out is hard, but you do it anyway because it teaches you how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
You do it because:
You want to grow.
You want to get disciplined.
You want to get better.
You want to do the impossible.
So you do it.
Staying the same is an option. It’s the easy choice. But it’s not going to change anything. Eventually, you have to look yourself in the mirror and decide if you want it or not. And, if you don’t, all the motivation in the world won’t do jack.
You have one life to do everything you’ll ever do. Don’t fill it with excuses
I’m disciplining myself to do 28 days of videos in February. Check them out on YouTube.
Today’s Video is The Myth of Motivation
photo credit: jenni from the block | tricky (rick harrison) | gato-gato-gato | koalazymonkey
Lisa Creech Bledsoe says
You hooked me within the first three lines: Screw motivation, get DISCIPLINE.
What a great reminder.
I love your blog, but this post in particular rocks my world. Sharing!
Ines Johana says
Thank you very much for this awesome article.
Discipline is the only word I’ve been thinking since the beginning of this year.
I want do it because:
I want to grow.
I want to get disciplined.
I want to get better.
Eric West | Friendship Society says
I started focusing on working out last year. I started by doing three simple exercises every day. I would do some situps some pushups and go for a run. I found that doing it everyday was good motivation, as it took away the excuse to put it off until tomorrow.
I later went on to do a round of P90X and it worked the same way. We worked out every day. This had the additional benefit of actually seeing results after the first 30 days. As you mentioned seeing results is great motivation.
Dani O. Buckley says
Hey Joel! I don’t read a lot of fitness blogs because usually I just can’t relate or I think it’s the same ol’ crap. But I have to tell you, this post really got to me. I love the concept that I don’t need to be motivated – I need to be disciplined. Discipline is a MUCH harder thing for me, but it’s so important in all aspects of what I’m trying to do from health to career goals.
Anyways… I hate to run and my biggest excuse is I don’t have the time. Yes, it’s an excuse, but I use it a lot. Well after reading this last night in bed, I decided to wake up a little earlier and to go run for 30 minutes – sprint/walk/sprint/walk like you said. Usually I just jog for a mile then walk for a 1/2 mile, etc. and I kind of hate it – this was much faster and it kicked my butt a hell of a lot more. So, I might have to keep this up.
Thanks for the insight and advice. 🙂
For me the strongest message in this whole post is ”own your decision”!
Great post! I have a pretty similar outlook:
Motivation = Temporary
Dedication = Forever
I think there is a separation between “how bad do you want something” and “going to any length to get something.” It’s not enough to just want something- you have to get dedicated!
Thank you. Fantastic post.
Try to work out with a friend and help motivate each other. When you have someone counting on you, it makes it harder to quit or skip out.
Thank you so much for this great post.
Loved this piece of article and I firmly believe that the day you bring discipline into your workout regime…things will automatically start falling into pieces and the results will be there for the world to see
” If you’re not consciously choosing to push yourself and grow, you’ll atrophy and decay automatically. That’s the default state of life.”
I’ve never realized this before. You’re absolutely right. Thank you for sharing your story, and for opening my eyes on the real meaning behind exercising.
Connecting with yourself, and building a strong, determined mind.
Box Destroyer Brooks says
I do 50-100 burpees; that has served me well when I don’t feel like ”working out.”
But Sprints. Wow, that’s simple. Hadn’t thought of it…
Hey , this is some nice advice . But i cant sprint :l , i dont have a toe… 😛
I was googling the phrase “how the hell do I get motivated to exercise?” and I brought me to you. Discipline, the message about what I actually need. Thanks!
I actually googled “motivation to work out” because I feel sleepy right now. I might end up not working out later. But after watching your video, I got “motivated”. Discipline yes discipline!
justin schmidt says
Man talk about a reality check…
I just got a medical retirement from the millitary and before i was retired i thought i was the most mentally tough mofo on the planet (including cold shower therapy for a year in afghanistan) but since i got out ive hit a slump. I cant work because of my medical condition so i basically stay at home all day watch tv and take care of my newborn while the wife goes to school. Well the #1 thing to succeed in the army is discipline. Guess i lost track of that thanks for the reminder
I’m a bodybuilder so I can back you up. Sprints are AWESOME. Cold showers? I’ve heard about them. I’ll give them a try.
Motivation? Motivation get’s you started. Your habits makes you keep going. So discipline is key.
Thanks for the kick in the#@[email protected][email protected]
Melissa Arnold says
Thank you!!! Reading this is exactly what i needed to understand the difference between motivation and discipline!!! I never thought of it this way!!!! Thank you….thank you….thank you!!!!!
I liked how it was mentioned that you must learn to be uncomfortable with yourself. People who get out of this comfort zone, end up being successful individuals. It is the feeling of accomplishment, that makes it rewarding to keep going. That is the only way to make a difference in your life. Great advice to many, who have to understand having a disciplined mindset.
Holy crap! You just called me out on my sh….!!!! Am going for my degree in business, am 55 years old, a former trainer gone jelly, convinced myself that “at my age” it’s not possible to get back in top shape (good excuse, huh?) and then, bam, I come upon your blog doing an assignment for, how good is this……a Health & Fitness class I’m taking!!!! Made me recall the days I was an instructor helping others get certified. Sport psychology teaches….”motivation is doing that which needs to be done to achieve a desired goal.” It doesn’t say jack about whether your gonna enjoy the journey 100% of the time! People misunderstand the meaning….it’s not all fireworks and glory. So, in addition to discipline, we need to understand the TRUE meaning of motivation. I gotta get my a…. in gear first thing tom morning! There’s no such thing as coincidence!!!!
Great post! I think I’m going to print out some quotes from this and hang them on my wall. Really motivational stuff! Thanks 🙂
Awesome post, so freakin true…5am rain or shine!
Great post, people really do underestimate the power of the cold shower.
If you take cold showers, write down your goals and do everything in your power to achieve them you’ll turn into an absolute ass kicker.
Wow, excellent post and video. Thanks for that.
My favorite part was the classic “JUST DO IT” line, and how there’s no real uplifting news in this whole article and the end conclusion is the mediocre stalemate “YOUR GONNA HAVE TO WORK HARD IN LIFE SO JUST DO IT” Thanks for that.
I’m gonna do the cold showers
OMG IT’S GONNA SUCK BUT BE AWESOME
I told my boyfriend I’m gonna do it so now if I don’t I’ll look stupid
I always feel drained, as well as knowing that I am a failure and won’t be able to stick to working out ever. I’ve wanted to workout and be in shape since I was 13, and I’m 43 now. I’ve never had the energy, or the belief in myself. I believe my life is meant to be an unsuccessful failure. I wish I didn’t believe that. Sometimes I just cry, because I feel like my whole life is passing by me and I will be dead . I can’t seem to change my mental weakness. I feel hopeless. I wish I didn’t though.
Ravi Dagar says
Great information. One of the biggest problem is motivation. We need to be motivated to do something big.
Thanks for sharing.
Keep it up.