We’ve all had those days…
You’ve just come home from a long day of work or school… you’re physically tired and mentally worn down… you’ve got a thousand non-gym related things on your mind… and all you really want to do is flop down on the couch, relax and unwind.
Only problem is, it’s Thursday. And Thursday is leg day. And no matter how much you try to rationalize it in your mind, deep down you know there’s just no good excuse to skip this workout, even though you’d love nothing more than to stay right where you are and not move a muscle.
Yes, even the most motivated of trainees still experience “off days” every now and then. Days where laying in bed and watching Seinfeld re-runs seems like a much more appealing course of action than getting into the squat rack.
So, what should you do in those situations when, for whatever reason, you really just don’t feel like training and can’t seem to find the motivation to make it happen? Or what if this lack of inspiration is an ongoing occurence for you and you’re finding it very difficult to stick to your fitness plan each week as a result?
The solution is dead simple…
Stop thinking about it and start taking action anyway.
Sound TOO simple? Well stick with me, because there’s an important lesson here…
See, most people think of action and motivation as being strictly a one-way street. In other words, you feel a sufficient level of motivation, and that inspires you to carry out a specific action.
In reality though, it works both ways.
Not only does motivation cause you to take action, but taking action also causes you to feel increasingly motivated.
In other words, if you feel completely unmotivated to do a particular task but begin taking action anyway in spite of how you feel, you’ll often find that the simple act of merely doing something in and of itself is the very catalyst that causes you to feel increasingly motivated.
This then feeds back on itself, as more motivation inspires further action, and further action inspires more motivation, and before you know it, you’re fully absorbed in the original task that seemed so daunting and insurmountable to begin with.
So, instead of sitting around in your current “uninspired” state and merely hoping that you’ll magically feel some big surge in motivation to get you into the gym… instead realize that the very act of taking positive actions towards performing your workout is often the very thing that will produce the motivation you’re looking for.
The state of mind that you feel as you sit on the couch ready to fall asleep is NOT the same state of mind that you’ll be in while you’re performing your actual workout.
Rather, all of the small actions that you take leading up to your workout, through your warmup and through the first set or two of your session will gradually “shift” your state of mind in a positive direction, so that when it comes time to perform the bulk of the actual challenging work, you’ll already be in that pumped up and motivated state you were originally searching for.
Again, stop thinking and just start taking action anyway.
Stop creating mental pictures of what lies ahead… stop creating “what if this” and “what if that” scenarios in your mind… stop trying to weigh out the benefits and drawbacks of performing or not performing your workout…
If you’ve already made the commitment to yourself and know that the right thing to do is to get into the gym and train, then shut off your mind and just do it.
Stand up… change into your gym clothes… pack your bag…
Even these tiny little actions will kick-start this “state-shifting” process.
Have your cup of coffee, pre-workout supplements or whatever else you usually consume prior to training… walk out the door and start making your way to the gym…
Again, these additional small actions will cause your state to shift further.
Walk onto the gym floor… put your headphones on… begin warming up and moving your body…
Far more often than not, you’ll find that by simply taking all of these individual actions leading up to your actual workout without over-thinking or over-analyzing it, your mindset will shift all on its own and automatically produce the motivation and inspiration you need to tackle your workout with full intensity.
By the time you get past your first few sets, the rest of the workout will usually not only be smooth-sailing, but will actually be fully enjoyable as well, especially since you’ve now reinforced in your mind the fact that you’re a self-motivated person who takes action regardless of the circumstances.
This concept applies not only on the micro-level of individual workouts, but also on the macro-level of your overall fitness program as a whole.
That’s because once you begin taking action consistently and have built up a solid track record of successful workouts over the course of a few weeks or months, it will quickly turn into an automatic ingrained habit that you simply do without thinking too much about.
In fact, you’ll likely begin looking forward to your workouts and will genuinely enjoy performing them rather than viewing them as some unwanted chore that you need to “get over with”.
So, if you’re still a beginner and have been struggling to really get things off the ground with your muscle building or fat loss program, just know that the early stage is always the most challenging part by far, and that it only gets easier and easier with each passing week.
And here’s the most important take away from this article…
This principle can be applied to every area of your life beyond just your fitness program.
Any time you’re faced with something that you know you need to do or should do but are feeling unmotivated and overwhelmed by, you can apply this “stop thinking and just take action” principle in the exact same way.
Have a work project that needs to get done but that you really don’t feel like doing? Just take some initial small steps and then harness the momentum of those first few actions in order to motivate yourself further.
Need to write an essay for school but are feeling completely uninspired and uninterested? Just get the first few lines down on the page and then see where it takes you.
Got an invite from a friend to go out but aren’t in a “social mood”, even though you know you should get out of the house? Just go anyway and watch as the state-shifting process kicks into gear once you speak to a few people.
The bottom line here is this…
If you believe that every single action you take requires you to feel fully inspired and motivated right from the get go, you’ll never get anything meaningful done, or at the very least, you’ll only be a fraction as productive as you could be.
If you already logically know what the “right” thing to do is, then stop relying on positive emotions (or the absence of negative emotions) to drive you forward, and just do it anyway!
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