It’s that time of year. The fall has passed us by quickly and the hectic holiday season is upon us. It is the perfect time for a personal reset and to start looking forward to the new year. What will this new year bring? Well there is a pretty good chance that you have some fitness plans in mind but how is our motivation level right now? And as importantly, how can we keep that motivation?
Here are 10 great methods to keep your motivation high and make you successful in the new year.
1. Goals work
This may sound like a cliché but the power that a firm goal can have on your attitude toward motivation is incredible. Human beings are meant to have a purpose. This purpose at its root includes safety, food, shelter, health, family and other basic needs for survival. Once these needs are met we crave other life challenges but these need to be identified in the form of goals. Once a goal is identified and committed to, it often will “flip a switch” in your psyche turning on your motivation! The best goals for motivation are normally outcome goals such as experiencing success in an event. Registering for a goal event will start the ball rolling and set the motivational juices flowing! Don’t forget your process goals, many of which are listed below, which you have control of along the way that lead to your ultimate outcome goals.
2. Pull from your inspirational sources
Inspiration can be powerful. Seek out inspirational sources whether it be from your past accomplishments, the accomplishments of others or even fictional accounts of success like your favourite motivational movies. Is there a loved one that you want to be successful for? Do you want to prove to yourself and/or others that you can be fit? Can you find a story of someone that has reached a goal they never thought possible? There are countless inspirational examples available from family, friends, books, on-line and movies – go find them!
3. Have a personal philosophy
Take a few minutes with yourself to develop a personal philosophy based on your beliefs and values. This should include the reason why you commit to training and your goal. Having this answer is very powerful for when you question yourself on why you are doing this – when you feel unmotivated, the weather is bad and especially when you are exerting yourself in training or competition. Such philosophies could include your commitment to long term health for you and your family, your need for self-challenge, always finishing what you start, being able to control your own destiny or your quest for adventure.
4. Train with others/groups
It is easier to let yourself down than to let others down. So, get yourself a training partner or group and you will be amazed by the effect. When you find yourself tired, busy or low on motivation – having someone that is meeting you for training is a very powerful tool. You will almost always show up because you know that partner or group is counting on you – as you are counting on them. You will find yourself scheduling your time better and making your training a priority. It is also motivating to share and recount your journey with others.
The “spice of life” – and this applies to training as well. Have a training program that does not always include the same routine. Although a good routine can be very good for your training, you can vary the types of training to get better improvement (a good coach or program will help you with this) and choose different training venues. Avoid training indoors continually and don’t go out your front door and cover the same route every time. A mix of training indoors and outdoors will be very motivational and choose different routes and terrains on a regular basis.
Technology for endurance training has taken leaps and bounds the last 10 years. Devices like fitness monitors, GPS and heart rate monitoring systems have come down drastically in price. Social networking websites and apps are also available to track and compare athletic activity where you can congratulate and comment on each others' activities and upload photos – even virtually train or race together. Learning about your body through heart rate feedback, learning your paces, using social networking systems can be highly motivating as you see yourself improve.
Make it easy for yourself to work out! There are lots of tips and tricks for this – anything you can do will help. Some ideas include keeping a small kit of your workout gear in the car so you can be “Superman” with a quick change and off you go! Also, own at least 2-3 full workout kits so if one is in the wash or missing there is another ready to go! Another tip is to plan your workouts in convenient locations where you will be on a regular basis - for example, combine a workout with a weekly errand that you need to complete or when traveling choose a hotel with a good gym or good training areas and facilities.
8. Spend/Invest in yourself
Spend on yourself! It is an investment – and a good one! We spend a lot of money in our lives on items like food, clothing and travel so don’t be afraid to splurge on items that will help you achieve your fitness goals! Stylish training wear, warm training clothing, multiple pairs of good shoes, race entries, sport travel, sport nutrition, coaching, training groups, technology, sport glasses, portable music, accessories – anything that makes training and racing more enjoyable! Being properly prepared and looking good can go a long way to making your experience enjoyable!
9. Get out the door
Getting out the door can sometimes be 90% of the battle. Believe it or not, your mind will be anticipating that you are going to put your body through a bit of stress so it will put up some defenses by making you feel tired or that something else is a priority. Make a commitment to yourself that if you have a workout planned you will, at the very minimum, show up and start it. Make a deal with yourself that if you head out the door and start the workout, that if it is not going the way you had hoped or you don’t have the amount of time that you had thought, it is ok to end the workout early. Some tricks to get out the door include many of the items on this list but you can also try playing music and/or eating a small amount of something you like (ie. chocolate, sport bar, gel, etc) that will give you a burst of energy!
10. Have others as part of your goal/success
Even though your journey can be very personal, it is always motivating to include people that are important to you in the process and the outcome. It is always incredible to see all of the families and friends along the race course and at the finish line cheering and celebrating. Including them from the very beginning when you set your goal will make them more understanding of what you are going through to get to the finish line - and will make the celebration even sweeter at the end. You will often be their hero without even realizing the effect you had on them until that day when your goal is realized.
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Author: Paul Regensburg of Pinnacle Fitness
Paul is a former National Team Triathlon Coach who has served as a Coach and Leader with gold medal winning teams at the Olympic, Commonwealth and Pan American Games. Paul is a published author and in 2000 provided color commentary for CBC Television’s Olympic coverage of Simon Whitfield's historic sprint finish in front of the Sydney Opera House that brought Canada the gold medal in the Olympic debut of Triathlon. Paul is currently a senior coach with Pinnacle Fitness and the Event Director for a number of popular endurance events in Western Canada.
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