Maintaining Motivation

Maintaining Motivation

It’s tough to maintain motivation to achieve your goals, financial or otherwise. Sometimes, you start out all excited, but for some reason, you can’t keep it up, and you drop off, often kicking yourself. Dropping out is a self-discipline issue, but this article isn’t about that type of dropping out. Sometimes dropping out means the goal is right. However, the action you take to get there might not work for you, and you need to find the action that does. Let me illustrate with an example.

Running

A couple of years ago, I decided to get fit. I wanted to get to that easy level of fitness, where any adventurous activity that I decided to do would come to me with relative ease.

Being the nerd I am, I looked up some of the most effective ways of getting fit quickly. Not too many Google searches later, I decided to pick up running. Calculated on a distance basis, running a certain distance, compared to walking or jogging the same distance, could burn many more calories and build up your fitness faster. I even found a great program that could take me from 0 to 10 km in five weeks.

So I had my plan, I had my goal, and I even had a roadmap to get there. I was ready to go.

There was just one problem.

I hate running. The feel of my feet smacking on the pavement. I hate the feeling of being out of breath all the time, the rhythm, and feeling my body chugging up and down. But most of all, I just find it dead boring.

A new plan

I thought there was something wrong with me, so I started looking for motivation to run. I read all sorts of helpful materials. Some articles suggested I plug-in music and I blast away the pavement with my awesome tunes. Some articles suggested that when I first started running, I might find it really difficult, but after I spent some time doing it every day, it would become a habit, I would get into the “flow” and start to love running. So with renewed enthusiasm, I bought myself some expensive earphones, pre-programmed some amazing songs in my phone, and set up a consistent pace to develop some flow.

But it didn’t work.

I still found running boring. I knew it worked for some people, I even had some colleagues who ran marathons for fun. Yet I couldn’t escape the fact that it just felt like enhanced walking to me. I didn’t feel like I moved fast enough for it to be fun. As it continued to feel more and more like work, it didn’t take long for me to give up. I ended up feeling pretty guilty about it.

Motivation

A couple of months later, I remembered how much I loved bike riding as a kid. The feeling of wind through my hair, great views, and the feeling of moving quickly, controlling my speed, and covering kilometres and kilometres. I brushed the dust off my old bike, oiled and tuned it up, and went for my first ride in a while.

It wasn’t the greatest day for it. It was fairly cloudy, and there was a biting strong wind (if you’ve ever been into cycling, you will know that like being in a kayak, wind is your ultimate enemy). For the first few minutes until I warmed up I wished I’d brought my jacket out into the cold. And yet, within a little while, I warmed up. I started to love the rhythm, the views, and the feeling of freedom being on a bike had always brought me.

I’ve been riding ever since.

Sure, there are some days that I find it a bit tougher to get on a bike than others. It still sits in the garage more days in winter than summer. And yet, on my bike, I get that feeling of ‘flow’ that other people talked about with running.

Whether you’re struggling for motivation with your fitness or your finances (unless you’re in deep debt, or are struggling with self-discipline), you need to find a strategy that works for you. How do you know when you’ve found it? Well, chances are that if it always feels like a chore, it’s probably not the right thing for you.

You need to find that solution that feels good for you on most days, and even on the tough days is still worth doing.

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