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Do you know somebody who wants to get fit? They say: “I need to get motivated so that I can get myself down to the gym”. They keep saying it. Maybe even Google how to get motivated or buy a couple of books but they’re still not down at the gym.

The experts will tell you to increase your motivation by using a certain technique or strategy but they’ve got it all wrong. It’s the wrong way around. If it was as simple as visualizing yourself there, the gym would be full.

Have you ever wondered why it’s easier to get down to the gym, when you’ve got a big event coming up? That we’d aim to be fit for our high school reunion or that summer holiday that’s planned at the beach? This is because what you’ve got is a serious case of commitment.

What is motivation?

Motivation is a process that gets you to do something to reach a goal. That process is the result of our thoughts and feelings.

These trigger a cascade of neurotransmitters and hormones which are designed to initiate something in our body to initiate action.

Motivation can also be driven by social pressures. It can come from external forces as well as internal desires.

Motivation is the process of initiating or maintaining a behavior or a thought so that we can achieve a particular desire.

What if you want to feel great wandering around with your special somebody on a summer holiday? That’s desire number one. What if it’s cold and raining and you’d rather stay warm and comfortable? That’s desire number two. Which one wins? That’s the one you’re most committed to.

Motivation is a fickle friend. Commitment strokes the fire of motivation. It lights the spark and continues to build that flame. 

Motivation needs three key ingredients:

• You need to start the behavior.

• You need to keep doing it.

• You need to really want it.

Starting a behavior and continuing with it feeds motivation, but they both require you to be committed.

What is commitment?

When you’re committed to something, there are no ifs, buts or maybes, you’re completely dedicated to seeing the thing through. It obligates you to achieving that thing no matter what.

In the words of John Mack Carter, when it comes to bacon and eggs, the chicken contributes. The pig makes a commitment.

You decide on what it is exactly that you want, and why you want it.

For example, let’s say you decide you want to run 10K in 50 minutes and enjoy it.

What can you do to increase your commitment to this goal?

Start by talking about it. Choose a 10K fun run that is far enough away for you to safely train for it but not so far away that you forget to train for it.

Sign up for it and tell people about it. Not just your mom or people who will let you off easy. Tell the people you don’t really want to tell. The ones where it will be a big deal or where it’ll be embarrassing if you don’t deliver on your promise. Even better if someone signs up with you.

Why is it easier to let ourselves down, but not others? Do you keep promises you’ve made yourself or just the ones that you’ve made to other people?

Now that you are committed to doing everything between now and then. Keep it manageable. It’s better to consistently run three times a week than sporadically run six days a week.

out of sight, out of mind

Put a calendar up on the wall with your training days highlighted, put it where everyone can see.

You want it front and center. Now every time you go for a run, put an X on the calendar. The goal that you’re committed to isn’t to go for a run.

Your goal is to not break the chain of x’s. Every time you put an X on the calendar, celebrate and pat yourself on the back. Keep adding those x’s to the chain. Before you know it, you’ve changed your commitment into a habit. Now you’ve got momentum.

building good habits

Your pants will feel loose and you feel good when you look in the mirror. These external events are feeding you. They’re motivating you.

You didn’t need to boost your motivation to get running. You committed to running, somewhere for a certain amount of time, three times a week. You marked it on the calendar with the intention of not breaking that chain.

With repetition, your commitment became a habit. Your habit produced the desired things and those desired changes motivated you to run some more.