Motivation! If only…
I recently read an article which talked the number of people who own home gym equipment and don’t use it. They somewhat humorously referred to the Bowflex and similar machines as $2,000 clothes hangers.
While the article had some interesting facts (like a recent survey found that 47% of Americans own home exercise equipment) it fell flat on solutions when the author made the all too common error of identifying motivation as the solution to growing problem.
Most people acknowledge the need to exercise, go so far as to invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars in equipment, yet lack the motivation to get started or stay with the program.
Motivation! If only I had it…
We seek the elusive, mysterious motivation as Indiana Jones went after the ark of the covenant; at great peril to our wellbeing and most always in the dark.
If the evil that was unleashed upon the discovery of that much sought after treasure is any indication – lord help us if we do find what we are looking for! But seriously, If only we could take a hint form the movie and recognize that that which we seek is not really “out there” but right here with us, inside the entire time.
The good news is that providing many opportunities to stay healthy and strong it’s become clear that the environments and tools alone are not sufficient – that motivation is essential. The problem is that motivation is being confused with a lot of even more shallow things – goals, wants, needs, etc… connected it is but motivation is more.
If you think that’s getting deep get ready for this one: Motivation itself is fleeting – it’s a terrific push but it’s not enough in itself to sustain the wheel in motion. We do all get motivated – some for only 10 minutes others for 10 weeks. But what happens when the motivation fades? Where does it go and how do we get it back?
I’ve asked some big questions here and can not even begin to clean up the mess I’ve made in the space of a BLOG – but I can and will offer some things to think about:
First, motivation is essential to getting you and I moving, active and engaged. Yet the most common motivators tend to be of the external nature – things outside ourselves. Motivational structures like the transformation challenge is a great example – as is the summer vacation at the beach, etc. These are goals, wants, needs, etc.
These types of motivators are great – but oh, so fleeting. They start strong and fade because they are outside – they act “upon us” rather than come “from us.” There’s a more lasting motivation that comes from inside – from our own deepest wants, fears, desires too. In many cases this is a subtle difference – we may use the goal of the twenty year reunion to get in shape but when we think about it we don’t see how others will be impacted by seeing us but experience how we will feel about looking great.
Another example of an internal motivation is the motivation to be well when one’s been suffering from an illness. This is not at all about others or goals but really a deep desire to be healthy and strong again. I use this example for it can truly relate the difference which you can see can be quite subtle in many instances.
Once you’ve translated an external motivation to an internal motive you’ve created some staying power. This motivation is likely to stick with you much longer – perhaps even years. It may not be as “desperate” as some of the fleeting motives that can fly by our grasping minds but it’s a steady source of drive.
But alas, even this motivation has a shelf-life. Rest assured (sparing the case studies here) that this motivation will too fade. So then, what is the answer to staying strong and healthy for life? I’m so glad you asked – safe to say it’s going to take more than motivation.
A lifetime practice of health and fitness is not sustained by motivations but the higher, ever radiant energy of true inspiration. How one moves from a life of motivations; stringing one to the end of the other to keep things going, as most people do, to thriving on a steady, inspired practice is the million dollar question – and one that I threaten to have an answer to. As you might get by now that answer certainly exceeds the scope of this already extended discussion but once again, some ideas on this I will share…
To move from motivation to inspiration takes time, intention and awareness. That means first you have to have some awareness around the fleeting nature of motivation. It does not mean you skip the motivation but that you use it’s intense energy but rather than just expending it in the search you capture some it’s energy to embed the great pleasure of pure practice in your soul. To move from “doing” fitness to “being” fit. It’s a path to mastery – from the difficulty and struggles of the budding artist (or martial artists for that matter) to the artist who is the living embodiment of the his art or practice.
At this level of inspiration one no longer searches for the energy required to “do” the training they are that energy – it’s ever present and they actually suffer if they do not expend this energy in their practice. One is no longer “pushed” by the energy of motivation but “pulled” to the inspiration.
There’s clearly a lot more to this but it’s a fascinating subject to me – and I hope provides you some insight into the superficial yearning that the seeking for motivation initiates in all who partake. Once motivation gives way to inspiration you’ve tapped into the perpetual source of infinite energy and your questions about “how” will all vanish – along with your ego.