There are so many articles these days about the importance of regular exercise, few would question it is important. Nevertheless, though we admire those who seem to like nothing better than exercise, for many of us exercise comes lower on the priority list.
So how can we use the model for self motivation to get us to put on the tennis shoes and start working out? I’m glad you asked.
The model for self motivation is simple:
Anything you do to any of the three factors on the right has a direct impact on your motivation. That's what makes the model so practical. It's easy to put it into practice. Here are some helpful strategies using the model you can use to get you, and keep you, motivated to exercise.
Vision (the worthwhile pursuit) The more worthwhile or valuable your pursuit is, the more motivated you will be to work on achieving it. Consequently, your goal is to make exercising more worthwhile. How we do this:
- Find an exercise that you enjoy. The more you enjoy it, the more value it has.
- Learn the benefits of exercise. Exercise will help you live longer by avoiding hypertension, heart attacks, strokes, osteoporosis.
- Create your personal "reasons list"; the reasons you want to exercise. Some examples are: fit into you old slimmer clothes, be better at the sports you love, looking better for another person, be stronger, look good when you go to the beach, stress relief.
- Use the time exercising for just thinking about things
- Take advantage of the social benefits of exercise, getting to visit with similarly focused people. The track club was a big motivator for me when I was running
- One of the funniest benefits, a friend’s reason for running: being able to eat and drink all you want.
- Rewarding yourself: Although most experts say external motivation doesn’t have the motivational impact of internal motivation, many people find creating rewards for successful completion of tasks, for example, renting a video for every two work outs completed, increases their motivation, perhaps by indirectly enhancing the worth of their vision. Try it out for yourself.
Successability: the more confident you are in your competence the more motivated you will be. How we do this:
- (yup, here too) Find an exercise that you enjoy; you are more likely to do it and enjoy the motivating impact of many successes. A success is when you do what you are motivating yourself to do, in this case, exercising.
- Exercise first thing in the morning, every morning. Make a habit of exercise.
- Set and write down precise goals; the more clear you are the more motivated you will be.
- Make sure your goals are attainable. Don’t have as a goal something you are unlikely to accomplish.
- Keep track of what you have done with an exercise log. When I ran I always kept one, but especially for the races. Over the years my PR’s would slowly come down, and I was able to use my successes in races to keep myself training day to day. For most runners racing is more fun than training, so you use your racing successes to motivate you on your training runs. Successes increase successability which increase motivation.
- Take time to appreciate the results of your exercise program.
- Read inspirational stories of persons doing the sport you are doing, or who are accomplishing the goals for which you are exercising. The successes of others will help you realize that your goals are achievable, that you can be successful.
Environment: You can adjust/change your environment to enhance your motivation. Here’s some strategies:
To enhance your physical environment, the place where you live and where you do your work:
- take a photo of your self at the start of your program and at regular intervals so you can see the improvement and post them on your wall.
- Put motivational quotes or posters on the walls.
- Put pictures of sports models, who look like you want to look, on the walls.
- If you go to a gym, make sure it is a place you want to be at.
To enhance your social environment, the people and organizations (groups of people) that surround you:
- Exercise with a friend. (I used to run weekly with a much better runner; he would motivate me to push harder than I ever would have pushed by myself.)
- Find a fitness class or hire a trainer. Not only will you rely on their expertise, but also on them motivating you to try "just a bit harder."
- Join a club of like minded people.
- Tell people what are going to do; your pride will motivate you to “keep your word."
Do you have a strategy for keeping you on an exercise program? If so, please share it with other readers by commenting below.