It can be tough to pick the motivation out of thin air, often resulting in being caught up in our own heads about the pros and cons of getting off the sofa. Studies have found that although we tend to enjoy a task once we get started, we go through an initial period of second-guessing ourselves before we commit to a decision. A good place to start is by exploring what other people have achieved to make your goals feel more realistic. If we watch other people achieving similar goals, it can be a great source of motivation- perhaps they demonstrate their own methods of finding the energy to follow through? Or they may have new techniques you can try out for yourself. We can always learn from others- discussing with your friends and family how they keep motivated can give you a brand new perspective to help you out of your slump.
Mix it up!
Part of the struggle often comes from getting bored of the same routine. If we know what to expect all the time it can really take the thrill out of working out. A simple way to counter this is to change your routine when you begin to feel things are getting dull. Additionally, alternating your routine can be a good way to ensure that all areas of your body get a similar level of attention. See if there are some slight variations to your usual options, such as changes in form or equipment you can include next time.
Change your location
Are you sick of looking at the same four walls? It’s incredibly boring just staring at nothing- no wonder you get bored! If you can relate, then perhaps it’s time for a change of scene. Try taking your routine to a nearby green space or your garden if the weather is nice. You could even try some options that require an entirely new venue, such as swimming. We are pavlovian by nature, and once we have created an association it can be hard to avoid. This can means that if we create a positive association with certain items or locations, it can make you more productive and find greater enjoyment in your workout routine. If you find a space that makes you feel refreshed and motivated then you’ve already won half the battle.
Try something new
Progress is a great way to build motivation- we like to feel like we are improving and learning when we commit to an activity, and working out is no exception. To lean into this, try keeping track of your progress in a physical way, such as using a calendar or an app. Visual representation of progress can be incredibly rewarding as well as keeping you on track and motivated for your next session. If you find yourself missing out on the occasional session, don’t panic! The most important thing is getting back at it as soon as you can so you don’t lose steam.
Put on some music
Music can help us get moving and increase the enjoyment of an activity, which is especially great because you get to adapt it to how you want your session to go. Some of us prefer the classics to sing along to, whereas some of us like something a little heavier to get the blood pumping. Music can also keep your mind clear as you go about your routines, and help resist the urge to procrastinate. There is this belief that working out has to be difficult, or serious. Says who? We are all different so why should our exercise routines not be too? Try out different moods and music to see what you prefer, but don’t feel like you need to contain yourself to fit a certain image.
Get together with some friends
Friends make everything that little bit easier! Research has found that working out with a friend, or even just copying their routines can be a great source of motivation. If you are finding it hard to work up the motivation by yourself, then turn your routine into a social event. That way you have something to look forward to afterward and you can motivate each other! If you are struggling to come up with new ways to mix up your usual workouts, then your friends can be an oasis of new ideas. They know you well enough to know what could work best for you, and can even come along for the ride! As noted previously, we can do a far better job if we let ourselves have a little fun as we exercise- it doesn’t have to be a serious operation if you don’t want it to be.
As humans, we desire instant gratification, and sometimes it can be discouraging when we are training hard but not seeing immediate results. It can be good to create positive associations as we are more likely to keep up the habit. Research suggests that the incentive of a reward can keep us motivated, which leads to far greater results. Reward yourself with something you want- like relaxing and watching a film afterward, or going to see your friends for an evening. This way you can enjoy yourself whilst feeling like you have earned yourself a treat completely guilt-free.
Focus on the fun
Many of us find working out to be not something we particularly find enjoyable. However, there is no one size fits all. Find a workout routine that's enjoyable for you; whether it's going to the gym, swimming, or doing dance classes at home- there's so much variety out there! It’s about self-improvement and finding ways to build on your strengths until you’ve reached your goal. Who says that workouts have to be awful? Try finding activities that really tap into your inner child- perhaps there’s a sport you’ve always wanted to try but never had the chance to? Don’t focus on the outcome so much as learning to enjoy the process.