We’ve all been there before. It’s been a crazy day. You got into work late this morning. Your boss is on your case about that project. And you get home after a long commute and realise it’s a gym day. Shit! Your brain starts cycling through excuses of why you should stay at home and get takeaway. You start to feel your motivation wane. It’s do or die. You either grab your gear and get out the door to the gym, or it’s game over.
We all struggle with motivation when it comes to exercise. So, what separates the regulars from the couch surfers? People who are consistent have built habits and systems that become second nature. They no longer have to call on huge reserves of willpower to get stuff done. They simply follow their scripts. Here are 7 simple Jedi mind tricks you can use to supercharge your motivation.
1. The 80/20 Principle
There’s no such thing as perfection. The all or nothing approach usually leads to nothing. So, forget being 100% compliant with nutrition and exercise. You’re not a machine. Instead, apply the 80/20 principle to your fitness. What does this look like? Strive to eat whole foods 80% of the time. Enjoy your unhealthy favourite foods 20% of the time and don’t freak out about it! If you’re aiming to workout 3 times a week and miss a workout, don’t stress. Congratulate yourself for doing the other 2 workouts and keep the momentum going.
2. Keep It Convenient and Consistent
Your best workout is the one that you’ll show up for consistently. Classes and gyms are great, but not if they’re a 45-minute drive from home. Make your workout location convenient. You can also workout at home (try something super simple like this). Being consistent is what really counts. Doing 15 minutes of regular exercise every other day is much better than doing an hour long run every two weeks.
3. Have Fun - Turn Exercise Into Play
Remember when you were young and did all that fun stuff? Did you say to your mate, ‘let’s go out and do an hour of exercise so we can get lean?’ Of course you didn’t! You went outside and played in the park or rode your bike. You also got the occasional high-intensity sprint in when running from that bloody German shepherd. Exercise shouldn’t be a drag. You’ll never be consistent if you hate running, but have decided you need run 3 times a week to lose weight. Instead, find activities that you look forward to doing. You’d be surprised how much motivation you get when learning a new skill or starting up an old sport again.
4. Small Wins
Start small. I can’t tell you how much of an impact this one little strategy will have on your motivation. We often try to change a lot of things at once and are surprised when we fail. No one overhauls their life overnight. Start so small that you can’t fail. I mean ridiculously small. Say you want to start exercising regularly. You've been putting it off because you can’t commit to running three times a week. Dial it way back. Drop the all or nothing approach. How about a 5-minute walk three times a week. Maybe you just pump out 10 push ups at home every second day. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just do something so simple that you can’t fail. This is more about the practice of building a habit than it is about exercising. Once you’ve got it nailed, start to increase the stakes. You’ll be working out regularly in no time!
5. Build Systems
I’m not big on goals. I prefer systems. Say you’re not exercising regularly but want to lose weight, building systems can help. Think about the habits you need to do regularly to lose weight – consistent exercise, eat whole foods, get enough sleep, etc. Pick one of these ONLY. Break it down into a system. Say you chose consistent exercise, which isn’t very specific. So, you define it as being someone who rides their bike to work three times a week. Now, riding your bike to work three times a week is your ONLY focus. Go one step further and set days and times. Now you know that every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7 am you’ll jump on the bike and ride to work. There’s no having to decide on what you’ll do today and when you’ll do it. You’ve now got a system in place.
6. Train Don’t Exercise
Losing weight, building muscle, and getting fit are great starting points. But these can be long-term goals. You don’t need to be an athlete to train. Work towards your long-term goals, but shift your focus from exercise (general) to training with a purpose (specific). So instead of focussing on building muscle, focus on deadlifting a few hundred pounds or squatting 1.5 times your bodyweight (I guarantee you’ll have built muscle if you do this!). If you like running, don’t run to lose weight. Run to train for a half or full marathon. It doesn’t matter how small (get your first pull up) or large (training for an Ironman) the goal is. Set it based on your comfort level. When you train, you build skills like strength and endurance that keep you motivated along the way.
7. Define Your Why
Why do you do what you do? This is a hugely important question. Be honest with yourself about your fitness motivation. A lot of us want to lose weight. But there’s more to it than that. Maybe the driver for weight loss is looking good or building confidence. Tap into your deeper why. Make it personal, emotional, and sticky. Paint a picture in your mind of how your life will change when you achieve your goal. Write it down or find an image that reminds you of your why. Stick it somewhere you see regularly and call on it when motivation is low.
How to Put the 7 Jedi Mind Tricks Into Practice
I write to share my own experiences and knowledge with you. But my ultimate goal is to give you information that’ll help you eat, move, and live optimally. Get these right, and you’ll transform your body and change your life. So, I like to end each post with some actionable steps you can take immediately.
To get the most out of this post, follow the steps below before the opportunity passes. If you really can’t drop everything right now, write a reminder on a post-it note and stick it to your forehead for later. Decision creates action. Action creates results.
- Pick ONE and only one of the 7 Jedi mind tricks that you think will work best for you.
- Think of one way you can implement it. Don’t spend more than a few minutes on this or make it complicated. Just pick something easy based on your current fitness level.
- Write it on a post-it note and stick it on the fridge or bathroom mirror, so you see it every day (e.g., if you picked the ‘turn exercise into play’ strategy, you could commit to signing up for a class within the next week).
- Stick to the strategy you chose for 2 weeks. If you found it helpful, keep it in your tool box. If not, get rid of it.
- You can then cycle through and test the other strategies to see which get you the best results. Or just focus on building one up (e.g., keep going to regular classes).
Add a comment below and let me know which of these have worked for you in the past, or which you’re going to try.
Finally, if you want help in putting all of this into a completely customised body transformation program, you can book a free consultation with me here.
P.S. If you liked this blog post, I’d owe you one if you could get it out there by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on social media. You might also be interested in my free e-book: The Battle Tested Body Transformation Guide.