Motivation - use it or lose it

We are nearing week three of January which means that all your new changes for 2014 will become new habits soon.

It doesn't matter if it is January, May or your birthday. Good habits require discipline, motivation, the right resources and hard work, on a daily basis. More so, change requires the ability to overcome obstacles and setbacks along the journey.

 If you have goals for yourself in 2014, motivation is something that you want on a daily basis. You have to have it to get you out of bed, you have to have it when the going gets tough and you have to have it when things don't go as planned.

But let's be honest that motivation is not something you can find every morning when you get out of bed especially when life gets in the way of your body composition, performance, career or health goals.

Because goals require more than consistent commitment, here are a few tips to keep your motivation going all year long.

1)) Accept that it's OK to not be motivated 24/7. By accepting uncontrollable circumstances in life that may affect your motivation, you will become more body and mind aware of what's within your control, instead of feeling frustrated or defeated.

2) Write down your goals and then visualize yourself accomplishing the goal before you go to bed every evening. After you visualize a stellar race performance, a change in body composition, a career change or a life-long trip, you can also visualize yourself working hard to reach your goal and how great it feels to put in the work.

3) Write down why you want to accomplish your goal. Because we know goals require hard work (if they didn't, you probably would have already accomplished that goal in the past without trying), you have to dedicate all your energy to that goal - when it counts. By having your goal on your mind, you will be mentally connected to your goal which will help you maintain motivation when times get tough. And when all else fails, go back to visualizing your goal when it is succeeded.

4) Be patient. Don't expect results or changes overnight. Have a step-by-step process on how you will reach your goal so that your motivation remains high as you adapt, physically and mentally to the journey of reaching your goal.

5) Be realistic. Many people lose motivation because a goal is not doable at this time in your life. That doesn't mean that it can't be accomplished a few weeks or months later or that moving closer to that goal will benefit you more than thinking it's not "the right time." Focus on yourself and your own goals and many times that will allow you to remove the outside pressure from comparing yourself to others. Sometimes you have to step outside of the bubble of people that think, act and live like you (or how you think you want to think, act and live) and re-evaluate your goals at this time. Perhaps now is not the time to train for an IM, you don't have to have the same body image as others and if you are just starting a new career or small business, do not compare the success of others with yourself right now.

6) Use your resources. Hire a coach, a dietitian, a sport psychologist. Talk with your family, your boss/co-workers. You are not expected to reach your goal on your own and motivation can be given by others - you don't have to find it yourself every single day. Don't overwhelm yourself with feeling stuck with your current skillset - invest in a team that can help you move closer to your goals.

7) Stay structured but flexible. Anytime you regret doing or not doing something, learn from it. Don't just tell yourself that you have failed and all is lost or ruined. As long as you don't give up, you can always move closer to your goals. Have a realistic plan but be flexible. Remember that you don't have to change the goal but sometimes you have to change the plan.

8) Learn from others. Do you know someone else who has experienced a setback similar to your own? How did she/he overcome that obstacle? Do you know someone who you can learn from or perhaps is experiencing something worse than you and you just need their positive energy and thoughts. There's nothing wrong with feeling defeated or without motivation but in today's society, instant motivation is at the reach of your computer or iphone - use them wisely.

9) Re-evaluate your goals every 4-6 weeks. Because it does take time to make changes and to adapt to change, you may find that your initial goal is not the goal you had in mind. This isn't saying that you aren't able to commit to the goal or that you are weak or failing but priorities change in life. Sometimes a goal can require extreme measures once you actually put in the work and when you consider the bigger picture, that initial goal isn't worth the stress, commitment and often, isolation from friends/family. Balance is important when you have a goal and your hard work toward your goal should benefit your quality of life as well.

10) Take breaks. It's unrealistic to commit to the same style of eating, training or living for 365 days. If you have ever taken an extra day off from work "just because", enjoyed a 3 day weekend for a quick vacation or spent a week with your family in a new location, you know how great it can feel mentally and physically check-out from the normal routine for a short period of time. If you feel controlled by structure, learn to enjoy a little break every now and then to re-charge yourself and to keep yourself motivated to work hard for your ultimate goal.