Motivation Sucks, Try Momentum Instead

If you’ve been following any of my social media accounts for long, you might be familiar with my thoughts on motivation.

Saying it “sucks” might be a little strong. Motivation, in and of itself, doesn’t suck…but the way that we use it and try rely on it does.

Motivation is defined as “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something”. Did you catch that? “Desire”…”willingness”. Those words speak to feelings. Motivation is entirely reliant on what you WANT to do.

Here are some things I want to do on a regular basis:

  • Stay up late
  • Sleep in
  • Take a nap
  • Eat an entire bag of gummy bears in one sitting
  • Eat second and third helpings, or until I’m uncomfortably full
  • Have cereal at every meal

I’m super motivated to do all of those things. I would never have to hype myself up, or talk myself into doing any of them.

Here are some things I’m rarely motivated to do:

  • Stop eating before I’m full
  • Make sure I’m getting fruits and vegetables each day
  • Go to bed earlier so I’m well rested
  • Meal plan for the week
  • Grocery shop for my meal plan
  • Go workout

But I tend to do these things on a regular basis.

The thing about motivation is that, like ALL feelings, it fades. Maybe you just talked to your friend who has been eating better and exercising regularly, and she’s lost 20 lbs. You get all fired up and say, “My turn!” So you go to the store, buy a bunch of fruits and veggies, and lean meats. You call the gym where you have a membership, but haven’t set foot inside of for months, just to make sure they’re still open. They are. Whew! You feel so ready and pumped to get started on the road to a healthier you.

Fast forward a week, or two. Maybe six. Still buying those fruits and veggies? Still using that gym membership? There’s a good chance the answer is, “no”.

Sound familiar? Probably.

I think we’ve all been there more times than we would like to admit. Why? Because we tend to rely solely on motivation…if we “feel like it”. If we are “in the mood”.

If you are solely relying on whether or not you feel like eating better, or if you feel like exercising, you’re probably going to spend a great deal of your days not doing either of those.

So what’s the alternative?

Momentum.

Do you know what the definition of momentum is? ” Strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events.”

Strength or force that comes about from a series of events…like choosing to do the things that will move you closer to your goals, even when you don’t feel like it.

That’s how momentum is built. By repeated action. Repeated actions become habits. They become what you simply do. Day in and day out.

Motivation can be great for a jump start. Used appropriately, it can be the impetus to get you started. But that’s all it is. It’s the spark that can start the fire. It can burn hot for a moment, but quickly fades away. Momentum is fanning the flames, tending to the fire, and feeding it more wood so it can burn hotter.

If you want long term success, you have to quit relying on motivation to get things done. It will never work out. Build momentum. Build strength and force to what you are trying to accomplish, buy taking repeated action.

Even if you don’t feel like it.

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