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Motivation: The 5 Signs That You're Losing Yours And How To Quickly Turn Things Around

by Sportitude
11 Oct 2019

Motivation isn’t a smooth, unchanging road. It has peaks and dips that influence your performance, productivity and emotional energy.

Motivation can naturally plateau – flowing and ebbing with the seasons or your emotional state. Even once you’ve caught a good run of self-inspired motivation, you may feel you’re losing your edge and relapsing back into old habits.

Alongside discovering how to get your motivation back and positive ways to sustain it, it’s important to know yourself and the signs of your motivation fading. This will allow you to make a conscious effort to stay positive, be kind to yourself and keep on track.

1. You feel uninspired

It feels like just yesterday (and maybe it was!) that you sprung out of bed on a wave of enthusiasm to hit the gym – self-inspired to rise, shine and lace up.

Now, with the snooze button beckoning you back for another 5… 10… 15… minutes of shut-eye (okay let’s be realistic… 45 minutes at least!), you don’t have the spark inside of you that wants to get on with it.

Without want – or let’s call it passion - every step feels like a heavy burden – both emotionally and physically.

Solution: Revaluate your goal

When’s the last time you reassessed your goal? Perhaps you’ve surpassed it and it no longer provides a sense of challenge or purpose to drive you into action.

Self-doubt may have originally caused you to set a goal that is too small, limiting or mundane. Your goal should ignite a passion within you, rather than feel like an obligation.

Ask yourself, "What do I want for my body?" and "How will that make me feel?". Don’t just think on the surface of "I want to lose weight" or "I want to complete a marathon" – look deeper to discover why it’s a source of inspiration for you.


2. You feel overwhelmed

Dreaming big allows us to imagine possibilities of future self-fulfillment and take action to make that a reality.

However, when your goal feels like an unscalable mountain, it’s no wonder why the thought of giving up and falling back into old habits may have crossed your mind.

If your goal feels impossible, your self-confidence may deteriorate before you’ve even started making practical steps towards achieving it.

Solution: Break down your goal into realistic, measurable steps

Your goal should inspire you without feeling overly daunting, frustrating or discouraging.

Break your goal down into achievable, specific milestones that you can tick off one by one. This provides sustainable motivation as you climb your way to your end goal in a natural progression.


3. You feel bored

Perhaps you find doing squats or *insert mundane, repetitive task here* uninspiring and hold onto any excuse to procrastinate. But it’s the only way to achieve your weight loss or fitness-based goal… right?

With this inside-the-box perspective, chances are you’ll give up your goal before it’s reached. Boredom has a way of squashing enthusiasm and drawing our focus elsewhere.

Solution: Find your passion

First, determine whether you’re bored with your goal itself or your method of achieving it. Sometimes we make goals not for ourselves, but because we feel obligated to do so. Your goal must be for you – and there is no need to feel guilt over that.

Secondly, how are you trying to achieve your goal? If it’s a weight loss or fitness-based goal, find a training method that resonates with you. If you absolutely despise your workout method – chances are you’ll give up on it and your goal before it’s within reach.

Find your passion – whether it's running, dancing, cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, kickboxing – you name it.

If you get stuck for inspiration, channelling your childhood dream may give you some fresh ideas in your adult life. Perhaps you wanted to be grow up to be an explorer (hiking/trail running) or champion beach volleyball player. Don't be afraid to shake things up by varying your workouts or trying something new.

If the process itself of working towards your goal excites you, finding a rhythm to your training will come more naturally – and if you’re like us, even to the point where you’re daydreaming of pounding on the pavement, even as you curl up for the night.


4. You feel devastated at anything less than 100% success

Being laser-focussed on your goal can initially fuel your momentum, but your passion may quickly subside if you allow every ‘defeat’ to weigh heavily on you or procrastinate due to fear of failure.

Aiming for perfection is debilitating and limiting. We’re all our own worst critic, and impossibly high standards can leave you feeling anxious and bound by stress – at the gym and beyond.

The all-or-nothing mentality and harmful self-talk can be detriment to your motivation and productivity, and in turn cause you to avoid rather than expose yourself to the risks of a new challenge.

You may begin to wonder "What’s the point?" when you don’t experience visible results immediately or feel continuously dissatisfied with your efforts - forgetting to take in account that achieving a larger goal takes time and persistence.

Solution: Let go of perfect, shift your mindset and find peace in the moment

Leave behind perfectionism-fuelled expectations that conjure thoughts of “I’m not good enough” and replace them with positive, realistic thinking, such as “Everyone makes mistakes, and mistakes allow us to grow”.

When you feel weighed down by negative emotion, remember the courage it took to begin your journey and how far you've come. Celebrate yourself for that.

When you have a positive mindset, you’re more likely to be self-inspired to eat healthy, hit the gym or spring out of bed for a morning jog. If you’re making a real effort, you are making progress and any setbacks are a part of the process that you can overcome.

In fact, mistakes allow us to learn, strengthen our skills and encourage creative thinking. Don’t avoid trying something new because you’re worried you won’t be good at it. Work at it and allow your mistakes to act as a stepping stone to elevate your performance in future.

Although goals have a power to motivate, getting fixated only on results can wear your out prematurely. If you’re a runner, consider including a ‘fun run’ into your weekly routine. An occasional session where you forget about tracking performance and focus on the joy of running rather than crushing your PB can be uplifting - helping you remember the why that motivates you.


5. You feel burnt out

You’re physically and mentally fatigued, irritable and unfocussed. The energy and enthusiasm you once unleashed at full-pelt has since faded, leaving you wondering, "Why have I plateaued?" and "Where’s my motivation?".

Overtraining is when the intensity and frequency of workouts exceeds your body’s ability to recover fully and adequately. Perhaps you’ve fallen into a loop of yo-yo exercising - trying to ‘catch up’ on your fitness after a workout rut by doubling up on your training. You could be inadvertently burning yourself out, reinforcing the cycle and losing grip on your motivation.

Or, in the hope to prevent breaking out of your fitness groove, you could be neglecting to recover. The thought of taking a rest day may even make you feel guilty and apprehensive – like you’re falling off-track or slacking off. But you don’t have to beat yourself up or feel that way.

Solution: Rest and recover

Tame your guilt gremlin. Know that not only is giving your body and mind a break okay, but it is essential to your long-term fitness and mental health.

Training and recovery is a life cycle of muscle breakdown, repair and strengthening that allows your body to adapt to higher intensity workouts. Neglecting recovery puts you at higher risk of injury, illness, stress as well as a decline in performance and motivation.

To sustain your motivation for the long-term and prevent the mental and physical crash that comes with overtraining, incorporate rest days and ‘active’ recovery into your fitness schedule.

Active recovery may involve light, chill-worthy fitness sessions such as walking, yoga or foam roller exercises that allow you to ease tension in stiff muscles while allowing your mind to unwind.

Eating a nutritious and balanced diet, getting enough sleep and meditation may aid in your recovery and allow you to return to your workouts feeling rejuvenated and focussed.

Check in with your body and mind. If you’re lethargic but having trouble sleeping, your muscles are constantly sore or feel like jelly or lead and you're moody and stressed, prioritising your recovery will help refuel your energy, repair your muscle and rebuild your motivation.