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The best way to find motivation

Realise that you don’t need motivation, you need habits.

As I’ve said so many times, consistent effort over time gets results. What does it mean to be consistent? It means that working out is a habit. motivation comes and goes. But I don’t need motivation for a habit. I don’t need to psych myself up to put my pants on in the morning, to take the kids to school, to eat breakfast, to brush my teeth before bed. It’s a habit, it’s something I do regularly.

Now, I might need motivation to do a particularly good job of that habit. I might need motivation to brush my teeth for three minutes instead of two, or floss as well. But brushing my teeth at all? I don’t need motivation for that, I do it every day.

The key thing is to make training a habit. Ideally, your exercise will be training, you’re not just strolling into the gym and getting your sweat on for half an hour, you’re working towards some particular goal, like losing or gaining 5kg, doing your first chinup, running 5km without stopping. But that usually doesn’t take laser-like focus. Just make working out a habit.

Remember that every corpse on Everest was once a very motivated person. Many of those people would have done better with less motivation and more planning and good habits.

Sometimes it’s better to choose process goals rather than end goals. Instead of saying, “I will run a marathon by the end of the year,” you could say, “I will go on 144 runs this year.” That adds up to 3 a week, allowing a month off across the year due to holiday, illness, injury or laziness. A “run” is a run, whether it’s 1km or 50km. If you get halfway through the year and have done 100 runs already, great. If it’s only 20, well then you are going to have a very active second half of the year.

If you do 144 runs of whatever distance and time across that year, then something good is going to happen. You won’t be less fit. You may or may not be able to run that marathon, or for a decent time. But you’ll be a lot closer to it than you were – because you were consistent, and consistent effort over time gets results. This is the power of habits, for which we need no motivation.

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