I’ll let you in on a little secret, I usually do not feel
like working out. Sometime I am inspired, and it’s awesome, but
usually when I have time to workout I am tired and would rather be doing
nothing at all.
For many years I tried to focus on my goals and what I wanted and other things that I learned from books on positive thinking, secrets, etc. And for all of those years it was a roller coaster of success: sometime that worked really well and I was inspired to be consistent. However the inspiration always left me eventually, and I would miss 50-100% of my workouts and feel like shit. Physically like shit, and then emotionally, and then I’d start being an asshole… and eventually I would put 2 and 2 together and realize that I wasn’t like this when I was training regularly.
When I hit some sort of “bottom” I would try to refocus on what I want, be positive, etc. and get back into a groove. Life would be good, then the inspiration would leave me and the cycle recycles itself.
The birth of my first child, Nora, actually marks the last time I got less than 3 workouts in a week. In spite of getting less sleep, being busier and working far more hours I became more consistent about my workouts. Why? The power of negativity.
As humans we are far more motivated to avoid than we are to gain. We are far more motivated to hold onto what we have than we are to earn something. This has nothing to do with how optimistic you are this is about the way our brains are wired. Our loss aversion is one of our many cognitive biases. This bias is running our lives when we throw “good money after bad.” In other words, when we are invested in something like a failing business idea, our instincts and drive is to pour in more and more because we can’t stand the idea of losing all that we’ve already invested. This is, of course, completely irrational because investing more resources into a business that ain’t gonna work ain’t gonna make it work, it just adds tragedy to failure and keeps your from moving on to anything else that might actually work.
[Aside: fun fact about visualization – as in visualizing the outcome you want – it actually decreases follow through and motivation. Most of what is in books on positive thinking or secrets is 100% BS and the research quoted in them is taken out of context, or is so weak that it can’t be replicated. If something can’t be replicated that means it was just random.]
We can, however, sometimes use our built in biases to our advantage. Here’s my example: I had a rough childhood. I realized that when I got fewer than 3 workouts per week I didn’t like who I was. I was snappy, rude, insensitive, and in so many other ways, I was an asshole. When I see how I am without consistent exercise I am terrified of being a father with an out of control temper or anger. Terrified.
When it is time to workout I don’t ask myself if I feel like it (because the answer is “no” 80% of the time), I just think about what I don’t want: I don’t want to feel like shit. I don’t want to be an asshole. I do not want to be a father who can’t control his temper. I don’t want to be like my relatives who struggle getting up and down off the floor, or who can’t enjoy playing with their children or grandchildren, or who have to visit at least one doctor every week.
We are far more motivated to avoid than we are to gain because we are human. If you’re having trouble with consistency it might be helpful to embrace the power of negative thinking.
PS- If you have any questions or want to set up a call (this let’s us avoid phone tag) to go over goals or brainstorming the positive power of negativity for you – grab a call (it’s included in all our memberships!)