Motivation Will Let You Down

One of the first questions I get when I meet someone new to lifting weights is:

“How can I get more motivation?”

“What do I do when I don’t have motivation?”

“Sometimes I don’t have any motivation. What is wrong with me?”

You can’t.

You do it anyway.


Motivation is not a consistent resource available to draw upon. It is a mirage; a shiny thing that quickly loses luster once the novelty of your new exercise program wears off. We like starting new things because the possibilities are limitless. We don’t stick with things because it is hard to be new at something; to feel incompetent; to ask for help; to be vulnerable.

Motivation is not the antithesis of demotivation nor the cure for the fog in your head, the heavy thing that is weighing you down, nor the anxiety that is fluttering in your chest.

Action is the cure—no matter how small. Action is the antidote to your anxiety and demotivation.

Some days you can take more action than others. That is ok. Take advantage of the times you feel good and have the space for it. Keep trudging forward slowly and steadily in the times you don’t. Action created discipline and discipline is the underlying trait that has laid the foundation for success.

How can I take action?

A dream which is broken down into a vision which is broken down into a goal for the next 5 years, this year, this month, this week. Dissect your dream until you understand every nook and cranny of it. Break it down so much that you understand what pieces are required for you to build upon that dream each and every day. These small bricks are actions. These small actions create momentum and discipline. Discipline is what saves you when times are tough.

When I was in marketing, my company spent an absurd amount of money sending us to multiple conferences in the hopes that we would learn something for the business. I can’t say I gave them their moneys worth, but I did learn this:

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

Acknowledge your feelings. Take a moment to feel them and lay your brick down anyway. With each brick you lay you become better, faster, and more efficient at laying those bricks. One month from now you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come. One year from now you may not recognize who you are. At a certain point, the change becomes real. Like the Velveteen Rabbit burned in the scarlet fever fires and reborn wild and real.

Notice if you are sabotaging your own success. Action facilitates change. Change is unknown. The unknown is scary. But without change, where are you left? Sitting at the bar waiting for motivation to show up again, and again, and again. You can’t blame motivation anymore. It was never there for you anyway.