Now, I’m not talking about the instant “motivation” that you get from watching some bodybuilding video before you head out to the gym to get you pumped up. I’m referring to the real stuff, the motivation that we have (or don’t) deep down inside us and is integrated into every part of our character and everything we do.
There are some lucky people who are just born with an endless source of determination and will power that they can call upon anytime to get them through. For these blessed individuals motivation is simple: they have a goal, they need to put effort in to achieve it, so they give it their all and 9 times out of 10 will achieve it. We all know at least one of these people (or maybe I’ve just described you, in which case you probably don’t need to read this article!). They can be seen outside the gym 5 minutes before it opens at stupid o’clock in the morning, on their own (because no one they know fancies getting up at 5:30 am to train) with no iPod and with a look of complete focus on their face. They are there because 6am is the only time in their day they can train and they don’t have headphones jammed in their ears because they want to completely focus on each and every rep.
But what about the rest of us mere mortals who aren’t born with the gift of infinite drive and determination? We need to find ways of motivating ourselves when times are tough and we hit obstacles. Sadly, you will probably never be one of those lucky people I described above but with clear goals and a thorough plan in front of you, you too can be there outside those gym doors at 5:55am itching to attack the weights.
The most common solutions for getting revved up for the gym are usually along the lines of: listening to your favourite songs on your “gym playlist” on your iPod, watching motivational videos on YouTube or often people will resort to taking pre-workout supplements crammed full of stimulants (something I would strongly discourage). Maybe these are fine in the short-term but any goal that is really worth achieving usually requires a long-term plan and lots of hard work so how else can you keep yourself on the straight and narrow?
I think the answer is fairly simple and I’m going to ask you to do the same thing that I did. In my opinion to get anywhere you need to know two things: Where you are trying to get to and how you are going to get there. A clear goal and plan of how to achieve that goal is all you’ll need to keep you motivated. The trick is that you have to have a goal that you REALLY want to achieve, not just something that would be nice if it happened, and I mean something that deep down inside you are hungry for, which isn’t easy.
Just take five minutes of your life and look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself “What do I really want to achieve?” Then once you have your answer (and you will know when you do trust me), write it down, surround your life with it, and tell your friends and family about it. Then no matter where you are or what you’re doing you’ll be constantly reminded of your target. Also, set yourself some smaller short-term targets; your main goal may be a bit daunting at times so it’s nice to be able to have some easier targets to work towards. Then when you achieve one of these, make sure you reward yourself!
For example, if you looked at the wallpaper on my phone or laptop at the moment you would see this:
The reason for this is that this is the kind of physique I want by September 1st next year at the latest (and yes it has drawn a lot of comments from people). So whenever I receive a text or need to use my laptop I’m constantly reminded of why I’m pushing hard at every gym session and making sure I stick to my diet without fail. I’ve also told all of my friends at university about what I’m doing and they keep an eye on me and ask me about progress. All of this is keeping me motivated because if I fail not only will all of my friends know about it but the pictures on my phone and laptop will remind me of what I could have achieved if had only been a bit stronger and more committed. I’ve also got smaller targets such as weigh 80kg by Christmas (as leanly as possible), get my 1RM bench press over 100kg and be able to do 20 dead hang pull-ups. These are all written on sticky notes which are distributed around my room; my diet is also stuck on the wall right above my desk. It may look obsessive, maybe it is in fact, but what I’ve done is surround my life with constant reminders of my ultimate goal to keep my mind on it at all times. I also keep a very detailed record of all my workouts and diet as well as body measurements. After all, how can you know if you’re heading towards where you want to be if you don’t know where you are? This means I know at all times if what I’m doing is working and whether I am progressing. I cannot recommend getting a training journal highly enough, if you do only one thing after reading this article then let it be the purchasing of a training journal. If used correctly it will provide more motivation than any gym partner ever could. But remember the better you use it the more you will get out of it, so make it detailed!!
It is these things that have kept me going when progress has been poor (and it has at times!) and I’m sure that this could do the trick for you too. Find a goal that you truly desire and then surround your entire life with reminders of it and what you need to do to achieve it and then there’s only one thing left to do.... GO FOR IT!
Good luck in with whatever your goals may be!