A good chunk of what an Exercise Physiologist does everyday is help people master the tools they need to achieve their goals. "TOOLS" can be a collective of information, practice, routines, behaviours and mindset that allow one to break through to a new level, or at least move in the right direction. We have many tricks up our sleeve to facilitate change. Today we look at one very important factor that can rocket you forward or hold you back. So; do you have skin in the game?
If you are reading this then you may be in search of a little motivation or a push of encouragement. Yes! We all need that from time to time. But what happens if motivation is low? Wouldn't we all like a little bit more motivation! The thing is that motivation is a byproduct of our circumstances. Do we take action because have some inate deep desire to do so or do we take action based on some reason? I would argue the latter.
Motivation is ultimately your reason for acting. Let me say that again. Your REASON FOR ACTING. There are many things in life we are motivated to do. Things related to our families, our careers and our passions. We invest huge amounts of time and energy into these things because we have attached some very strong reasons and consequences for not doing so.
So when it comes to your health, fitness and general physical function, do you you apply any personal compelling reasons for taking action? If you answered Yes; great! You most likely do not struggle with motivation. If you answered Yes and struggle with motivation still, then I would argue that your reasons are not strong enough and there are no real consequences for not acting. If you answered No, then the first thing that needs to happen is to determine your reasons. If you are finding it hard to identify your reasons then you need some skin in the game.
With all things related to your physical and mental health, we need reasons. Let's look at pain. Pain sucks! We want it gone! Weight loss, better eating and exercise can make it better (and do). But the person who thinks "I want it gone because it hurts" will not go as well as the person who says "I need it gone because it affects my ability to ....". You can insert anything you want here. Perform work duties, care for my family, perform leisure activities, care for myself. Period. Our reasons are the foundation of motivation.
Here are some examples of what some of our clients have mentioned to me:
- I'm walking Kokoda next year.
- I cannot put my shoes on without help from my wife, and I'm too proud for that.
- I have booked a surprise holiday for my family at the end of the year and I need to be able to go hiking.
- If my back goes again, I cannot work.
Needless to say all these folks make significant break throughs, change their lifestyle habits and perform regular exercise. They have skin in the game.
If you want to achieve something but struggle with motivation, be very honest with yourself and ask; What are my reasons? Are my reasons strong enough? "I want my pain gone" is not a strong enough reason. What you need is skin in the game. Up your stakes. Commit to something. Tell people what you want to do. Make a bet with your work colleagues. Change your circumstances. These things are a little scary, yes. But they are phenomenal sources of motivation and they might just be enough to help you make that breakthrough.