The Burst of Motivation

If you hate being woken to the sound of the alarm at 5am I have one piece of advice for you: Don’t work in fitness. Fitness professionals live to help others achieve their health and fitness goals and as most of our clients work during normal working hours, mornings and nights are the necessary times for us to work. While this could be seen as a burden there’s one thing I love about working before the world has woken up: The drive to work.

One of the pleasures of driving to work in the morning, other than the fact that you have the roads to yourself, is seeing those impressive people who get up and go running. It’s the same people every morning. There’s the girl who always seems to be pushing herself really hard up the hill, I seem to remember someone told me she was an amazing netball player. Then there’s the guy who looks like a bit of a hippy who runs on the road and I’m always worried that I’m going to hit him. There’s also a couple of older ladies who seem to be enjoying each others company as they are beating the streets together.

I don’t know these people but I feel I have an affinity with them. While the rest of the world is getting the last of their precious sleep, these characters in the story of my drive to work remind me that I need to keep challenging myself in my life. By them doing something that is good for them they remind me what is good for me.

Occasionally there will be someone who breaks the routine of my drive to work. They are new, someone I have never seen before. They are out there running or walking but for some reason they don’t have that look of ease that my regular runners have. Inside I wonder if they are someone who has hit a moment in their life where they know they need to create some change.

On this particular day they have set the alarm early, motivated themselves to get out of bed and head out the door which is an awesome achievement in itself. Unfortunately I never seem to see these people again. Why is that? I’m sure when these people get home they feel good about themselves. That getting up and going for this early morning run sets up a momentum of good behavior for the rest of the day. They have probably even let the people in their world know that they got up early and went for a run in the morning. So why don’t I see them again?

For many of us we experience what I call the ‘burst of motivation’. It can come from that moment when you have let your habits fall off the wagon for a long period of time, and you know that you have to change. In this moment you get a burst of motivation and determine that tomorrow is going to be different. You create a plan where you get up much earlier than you normally do and go for a run, two things which are big challenges for you.

The downfall of this burst of motivation is that the actions we put in place at these times are often a massive stretch forward from our current ability and experience. This burst means that you can pull if off, but only once or twice as it’s just too hard. Unfortunately on that third morning when you have stayed in bed after the alarm went off there’s a chance that you will see yourself in a negative light. This might tell you that you’ll ‘never be good at exercise’.

There is value in the burst of motivation but you need to learn how to use it effectively. When you feel it coming on don’t aim for the most challenging activity, instead ask yourself ‘how can I build a habit and what are the ways that I can be most successful at doing this?’ By asking this question you will look for the best times of day for you to train, what types of environments work for you, who will guide you and what is the appropriate level for you to start at. If you figure this out you’re on a much safer path to success, one where the odds aren’t against you, instead they are in your favour.


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Bevan Eyles