What is the balance between discipline and motivation?
Motivation is an emotion, and like all emotions it comes and goes. In this video, Alan Thrall talks about practical ways you can improve motivation like “do stuff you like to do.” He also talks about doing things just because it needs to be done, what I think of as “check the box” workouts. That’s the discipline piece–sometimes motivation isn’t there and we do it anyway. As other folks I respect have pointed out, sometimes motivation comes from the doing–you get in there and suddenly, it’s feeling better than you expected it to feel. So, motivation can change within a workout, too.
The next motivation tip from Alan is don’t worry about being “optimal” all the time. Diversify and keep it fresh. So what if someone has pushed a workout you “must” do to get the most from your training. If you aren’t going to enjoy it, you won’t get the most out of it. I like this advice and agree with it, although I always wonder about the folks who are motivated by feeling that sense of superiority, of “doing everything they can.” It’s not me, but I know they exist. So, if that’s you, go ahead and be hard core. For the rest of us, if you’d doing it out of obligation, know it’s ok to chill out and do something else that is more fun for you.
The last tip he offers is to measure success in other ways besides adding weight on the bar or changing your appearance. Notice the other successes and focus on what you aren’t losing, not just what you are gaining. I will note I don’t love his “your buddy gains 5 pounds every year” example, since weight gain is not the greatest analogy to lost health. I’d appreciate it to be a more health-focused conversation than a physique-focused conversation. However, I get his point–exercising helps us age more gracefully. I’m in my forties now, and I know that I am not only lifting to progress in the gym but to push back against the actually-not-inevitable losses in personal fitness and independence as I age. Anytime I sit around for a few days, I get a little glimpse at how much I gain from being regularly physically active. My body feels so much better, more mobile, and with less pain and discomfort, the more regularly I challenge it and use it, and knowing that IS motivating.
Did you watch the video? Have thoughts on what works and doesn’t work to keep you coming back to the gym? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below or find and follow Progressive Strength on Facebook and join the conversation over there!