Have you lost motivation? It happens to the best of us. Motivation can absolutely fluctuate – throughout the day, week, year, or even throughout your life. This is something that becomes very apparent when you consider that some people are easily motivated while others need to put in quite a bit of work for just a tiny bit of motivation. Especially if you’re suffering from mental health disorders, motivation doesn’t always come naturally.
The concept of “The Fall From Grace” is a term that I’ve used in the past to address a situation in which you were doing very well, you were already motivated, and the routine slipped. For example, a body builder who lifts weights everyday might miss a day or two here and there – that’s okay. But what happens when they fall out of the routine completely and it’s been weeks, months, or even years since they’ve trained?
Lost motivation? I thought you’re either motivated or you’re not?
As someone who tries like hell to motivate themselves, I can honestly say that’s just not the case. Motivation can often be fleeting. But especially when you struggle with depression and you’re fighting yourself just to do these things, motivation can come and go – sometimes more severely than others.
Have you dealt with lost motivation, Jon?
Lost motivation is a pretty common factor in my life, unfortunately. As I’ve said before, I have three big goals in my life: build this blog as a mental health resource that can help people that are hurting, compete in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), and create my own music. For the purposes of this article I want to use my dream of competing in MMA as an example, as the “Fall From Grace” is a very real phenomenon for me.
What do you mean by that?
When I decided that this is where I wanted my life to go and that I wanted to compete in MMA, I took the steps necessary. I found a gym that teaches different martial art forms that suited me, and I began training every single day. Eventually, I was training 2-3 times per day. I felt great, I was incredibly motivated, I was in extraordinary shape, and I was happy – I felt like I had found my calling.
Today, I’ve been trying to get back to training in a more serious manner for about a year now, and I’m usually able to get to one or two sessions per week. Though I’d like to get back to training like I used to, I know it’s important to address other aspects of my life right now.
Just a couple times a week? That’s it?
For now. I certainly had to take a step back from my life, reassess a lot about it, and find a new normal. I went about 8 months without training at all. For the longest time I told myself that I was just overthinking it, that I just had to get up and go. But lost motivation isn’t that simple, I really had to address what was going on before I could make any steps.
In the time that I stopped going to training I finally started writing for the blog, got into archery, and began work on my album. Which is another point to be made – if you’ve lost motivation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t do anything. You can still find different goals to work toward while you overcome hurdles to your other goals.
So, what changed?
I lost motivation for training. I can make up a ton of excuses and say that life got in the way, working on my degree became too stressful, the blog had my time tied up or I was focused on writing songs and not training, etc. But it’s just not true. Obligations changed, my life changed, my attitude – above all else – changed. People fall out of their motivated mindsets for a plethora of reasons, but I think that it’s important to understand those reasons and address them so that we can move on.
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Can’t you just go back to training tomorrow?
On the surface it probably seems as simple as that. For me personally, I also have to consider agoraphobia and social anxiety.
When you’ve lost motivation it becomes about so much more than that one task. If you’ve lost motivation for your overall goals, you might even have trouble just getting out of bed in the morning. You’re not working on your dreams, so it becomes much easier to just accept this loss of motivation instead of getting back to your goals. Especially if you suffer from depression, that lost motivation can worsen until you find yourself living a different life that doesn’t satisfy your dreams. These mindsets snowball, and there is a threshold.
A note on the “snowballing” nature of mindsets
The human brain wants to build. I start every morning by making my bed because it is a simple task that I can complete – a simple step in the right direction. By making my bed in the morning, I’ve started the day on a productive note, which is encouragement to continue down that path as I go about my day.
I’ll tell you first-hand, for the longest time I had the attitude of “why am I going to make my bed in the morning? I’m just going to mess it up again later.” But then the question simply becomes – how long until you do something productive with your day? If the answer is a couple minutes, you might not be affected by this so seriously. But if the answer is a couple hours, you might be starting your day off on the wrong foot.
In my case of training, when I get up and go train first thing in the morning, the rest of my day tends to be more productive. As I continue that cycle it becomes easier and easier to get to training. Eventually, I’ll hit what I consider a threshold, where I don’t even think about it anymore and I just know that I am going to go to training. Conversely, if I don’t go to training, it becomes easier to just accept that as the situation. I’ll reach a threshold in the opposite direction where I don’t question why I’m not going to training or I don’t even consider it as a viable plan.
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So, what do I do about lost motivation?
When you’re dealing with lost motivation, the first step is to ask yourself: what changed? Personally, I noticed that in my personal workouts, the effort was dwindling. I reached a point where I was just going through the motions, and I wasn’t actually enjoying my exercise. This put me in a place where I wasn’t exercising seriously, which led to me skipping my daily exercise and eventually – skipping training at the studio. I also had to address the fact that part of why I stopped going was because I was nervous to advance – success scares me, and I’ve never been good at acknowledging that, which is something that became apparent as I was approaching Krav Maga testing.
Next, you need to consider your daily routine. As I mentioned in my other motivation article – Being Successful: Building Momentum – it’s incredibly important to have a daily routine which complements your overall goals. In my own situation, I noticed that as I was learning more about myself and I got into archery, music producing, and songwriting, I wasn’t focusing on MMA. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a huge focus anymore, but there were just constantly more factors being thrown into the mix – and I found MMA at a time when there weren’t a lot of factors. I needed to recognize that going to training is what complemented my overall goal of competing in MMA.
Third, consider your attitude. When I was training all the time I had a very positive attitude. I was exercising like crazy and was definitely reaping the rewards – both physically and mentally. But what I found was that my mindset started to shift more toward “I don’t feel like doing this, it’s going to suck” and away from “It’s a good day to better myself.” Your attitude and the things that you tell yourself play a MONUMENTAL role in your motivation. Even if you don’t believe it when you say to yourself “it’s a good day to better myself” – still say it. Why? Because you want to fill your head with those positive – sometimes cheesy – thoughts, and not the negative ones that set you up for failure.
Last, weigh your internal and external factors. This is a bigger picture item, as there might be habits getting in the way of your goals, there might be people getting in the way of your goals, etc. Is there anything you’re doing that is directly preventing your dreams? Personally, I noticed that I was placing too much weight on some of the other factors in my life, I noticed that I wasn’t putting in enough effort in my own exercise, and more than anything I noticed that I allowed my attitude and perception of the situation to go back to my old pessimistic ways.
So, what do you do about your lost motivation, Jon?
At the end of the day, I remember that this is what I want to do with my life. My life has been seriously feeling like something is missing since I slowed down my training. But the fact of the matter is that I know I’ll get back to it, I know I’m good at it, and I know I’m going to compete. I have to fight 10 times harder for this than the next person in line, and that makes it 10 times more rewarding. Missing training so much just means I have the time of my life when I’m there, and every time I go I increase the likelihood of me training one more time that week.
But above all else? I’ve really learned that one of the few ways we can fight lost motivation and get our motivation back is to step outside the comfort zone and just begin again. There is no right or wrong time to do something. After roughly 8 months of not training, I learned that the only way for me to feel more motivated in my MMA career was to actually be there and get in that survival frame of mind. Maybe that’s obvious for some people reading this but, my point here is this: there’s only so much work to be done mentally, in your mind. Eventually, you have to actually go and physically do.