What would you accomplish if motivation was unlimited?
Would you start that business you’ve always dreamed of? Finally slimmed down and added a few pounds of muscle to your frame? Or perhaps you would finally quit your job to travel the world for a few months.
Whatever it is, motivation plays a huge role in what we achieve and don’t achieve. Only problem is, motivation is the least important factor when it comes to fitness success, or any success for that matter.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Motivation is bullshit. It’s finite; it waxes and wanes; it’s an unreliable source to make significant change in our lives in the long-term.
Sure, motivation serves us in times of struggle or when we have a deadline we can’t afford to miss, but it’s not the formula for success like so many self-development and fitness gurus say it is.
What Does It Really Take?
The most important factor in achieving fitness success is effort. Not just average effort, but A+, I-really-want-this-bad type of effort.
Eric Thomas, the hip-hop preacher said it best: If you put in average effort, you’ll live an average life.
And let me tell you something else, phenomenal effort doesn’t run on motivation, or the perfect programming, or the best trainer. It’s 100% controlled and owned by you. If you quit over one “fat day,” or one horrendous cheat meal that left you feeling like dirt, then you will always get subpar results for your subpar effort.
Now let’s talk about what pushes us to put in phenomenal effort.
Recently, I hired a trainer to start working on some of the weaknesses that led me to my back injury. Having spent weeks bummed out, unmotivated and unable to lift weights, I noticed my motivation levels plummet, my body soften, and my effort fall in the “average” category.
Relying on my innate motivation is useless in times like this because like a muscle, motivation fatigues with overuse, stagnates with time or grows depending on what goal we’re focused on. When motivation and effort drops, you have to look beyond yourself and exchange something of value to accomplish what we desire.
Or as I like to call it: Cash money, yo.
How Money Affects Effort
Despite what Biggie said about mo’ money, mo’ problems, money can actually be a powerful catalyst for positive change. The book You Are a Badass at Making Money tells us that money is nothing but energy currency. We feel good when we receive money, feel bad when we blow it on something stupid, and get excited when we use it to purchase something we truly desire. There’s a lot of emotion wrapped into money making and spending!
In terms of fitness, exchanging our hard-earned dollars for a service like personal training, a nutritionist or even a fancy gym membership is a call to the Universe and ourselves that we mean business! It switches the effort button to “ON” simply because we want to get our money’s worth.
This is why joining the cheapest gym doesn’t guarantee you’ll actually show up. It’s also why hounding Groupon for the cheapest fitness deals or pestering your fit friend for a free program usually renders useless.
The psychology of money dictates that we’ll put in extraordinary effort into the things that are of high value to us. In my case, dropping hundreds of dollars on a personal trainer was a psychological deal with myself: Put in some serious effort or risk losing big money.
Make It Work For You
Even if personal training is not within your reach, you can still use the power of money to get the ball rolling in the right direction. A few examples include:
- Bet big money: Set aside a significant amount of money (to you). Give that amount to someone you trust with the caveat that they get to keep a certain percentage of it for every workout you miss. You can’t earn that money back until you’ve done your part, and that is hit every workout you’ve blocked out for a certain period of time.
- Invest in a reward you’re excited about. I spent my 30th birthday in Hawaii. It was my first big vacation in a long time and I had no qualms about dropping significant cash for it. Believe me when I say, I never missed a workout leading up to that trip because I wanted to look damn good while I was there.
- Pay to play. I’m amazed by how much races and lifting competitions cost these days. If you really need a reason to get moving or ramp up your efforts, sign up for a competition or charity race that requires a significant payment upfront. I can guarantee that someone paying $150 for a race is more likely to train and show up on race day than someone who signs up for some $30 local competition.
The #1 Success Formula
Using money as our catalyst is one thing, but ultimately we have to play ball if we want that money to do anything for us. This is why I use the Follow Through Formula from Marie Forleo.
The follow-through formula is a two-step process that can be used with just about anything, but let’s stay focused on fitness.
Step #1 Decide
It’s natural to want to do multiple things at once. We want to start working out 4x a week, get a meal plan, do more cardio, and drink more water. Thankfully, this step helps us maneuver around this do-it-all mentality with ease by:
1.) Writing down everything you want to do or change to help you achieve your fitness goal
2.) Evaluating each one by asking: “What’s the payoff for concentrating on this single behavior/goal/habit?” “Who must I become to make this a reality?”
3.) Decide on the ONE THING that will have the biggest impact for you personally and is the most attainable.
Step #2 Define
After singling out your ONE THING, it’s time to dig into specifics.
1.) Make the goal specific, measurable and achievable
2.) Commit to when and how you’ll evaluate your progress. Will you mark a star on your planner every day you make a workout? Will your trainer check your stats monthly? Are you tracking your nutrition on an app or working with a nutritionist?
3.) Now schedule it, because as Marie says “if it’s not scheduled then it ain’t real!”
- Motivation is an unreliable source to make significant change in our lives in the long-term.
- Putting in phenomenal effort gives us phenomenal fitness results. On the other hand, average effort will always give us average results.
- Use the power of money to up level your effort. This serves as a great tool during times when motivation is low and we’re tired of our subpar effort and results.
- Finally, use the two-step Follow Through Formula from Marie Forleo. Define and Decide on one thing, then schedule it in.