When I ask my new clients, "What do you need most in order to reach your goals?" the answer almost always includes the words more motivation.
Motivation has become the new cure-all for achievement. Want to lose weight? Get more motivation. Want to eat healthier? Find the motivation to. Want shinier hair? Slather some motivation on it.
And here's the thing, motivation is a wonderful thing to utilize when it's there. It gives us an extra pep in our step, a little wind under our wings, a little boost to our actions, and makes us feel like anything is possible.
But I have to tell you something... and you might not like it... no one, not even the world's top performing individuals, lives with an endless supply of motivation.
Motivation is not what separates you from the person living the life you covet. Motivation is not what gives Michael Jordan, Tony Robbins, or Oprah Winfrey the competitive edge in their fields.
The difference between success and failure in reaching any goal is the creation of habits that you solidify and lean on when motivation does its disappearing act.
Think about it, do you have to feel motivated to go to work? To brush your teeth? To do the dishes? No! You do them because they are habits engrained in your day.
And yeah you might skip a day of work here or there, but does that mean you quit? Saying something like, "Welp, I just couldn't do it! I didn't have the motivation! It's the unemployed life for me!"??? Heck no!
So why should your workouts, your nutrition, or your mindset be any different?
You don't need more motivation. You just need a plan of action designed to create habits that you can stick to.
Action Step #1. Do a gut check.
Make sure you actually care about reaching your goal. If you aren't truly, deeply compelled to make a change, no other tips I give you here will matter. Creating new habits will never become a top priority if it's just for the sake of a "have to" or "should do" goal. This is a post for a want-to, need-to goal. And that isn't about fleeting motivation, it's about a deep, internal drive pushing you towards living a better life.
Action Step #2. Write it down.
Write down your goal and why you want to achieve it. Write down a list of the key habits you'll need in order to successfully reach that goal. And finally, write down the individual skills that will make the habit highly actionable.
Goal: I want to lose 20 pounds.
Compelling Reason: Because I want to have more energy for the things I love to do and I want to feel more confident in my own skin.
Habit 1: Exercise 30 minutes, 5 days/week
Skills: Every week look at the calendar and carve out 30 minutes of free time on 5 of my least busy days, sign up for workout classes that fit my schedule, find workout videos I enjoy and can do at home when necessary.
Habit 2: Eat a healthy breakfast every morning.
Skills: Find 3 shake recipes or other breakfast recipes I enjoy, wake up 10 minutes early or make them the night before, go grocery shopping every Sunday to make sure I have what I need stocked up.
Habit 3: Trade out my daily drive-through in favor of a healthy alternative.
Skills: Find healthier fast food options in my area, meal prep on the weekend so I can just reheat healthy dinners when I get home, have 3 or 4 go-to 10 minute meals I can make on the fly.
You get the picture.
When you have that down, write down how you did each day. Actively check in with and rate yourself so you know exactly what's working, what isn't, and how you can adjust things to be more successful moving forward.
And don't worry if you feel overwhelmed by all this writing. I've created an awesome freebie for you this week! Below you can download your Daily Habit Mastery Planner and easily fill in the blanks so you don't have to come back to this blog every time you want to remember what you need to write down!
Action Step #3. Pick the easy route.
Order the habits from easiest to hardest. Start with the easiest. Take one habit at a time and repeat it every single day until it feels solid before moving on to the next habit. This may take days, weeks, or even months. But it's how you make things stick without needing that constant supply of feel-good motivation.
p.s. If a habit ever doesn't feel doable, or you get stuck on one you just can't make happen. Break it down even further until it feels more manageable.
For example, maybe drinking 64 oz of water is a habit you want but you just can't seem to hit it. Break that down and instead of aiming for that specific amount, simply aim for drinking a glass of water before every meal.
Action Step #4. Schedule your habits.
Literally. Write them down in your calendar. Schedule your workout, schedule your meal prep, schedule your grocery shopping, schedule your water breaks, schedule whatever habit your working to create. If it isn't consistently in the schedule, it won't consistently be in your life.
Action Step #5. Make it easy.
Change your environment so that sticking to your habit is as easy as deciding to stick to it. Keep healthy food in the house always. Have a list of known healthy restaurants and their best menu items in your phone. Have 5-10 short workouts that you know you like and you can do at home with no equipment on days you can't make it to the gym. Keep gym clothes in your car for after work. Don't make things harder than they already are by being unprepared.
Action Step #6. Get support.
Share your goals, your intentions, your plan, and your journey with a supportive community who is going to be there for you, cheer you on, hold you accountable, and remind you why you started when you feel like giving up.
Now understand, I have broken down for you, step by step, a plan that will help you reach any goal, with or without the magic of motivation. But a step by step guide won't do the work for you. And it is hard work.
It's going to be challenging, especially at first. Expect that. You're going to be doing something new and your brain has to work harder when it's figuring out a new pattern you're creating.
But the longer you do it, the more your mind will anticipate it, will create shortcuts for it, and the more it will become part of your identity. It will shift from "what you do" to who you are. It won't be a choice, a debate, a plan anymore. It will be you. No motivation necessary.