Let’s admit it, we’ve all hit a wall (metaphorically, or maybe physically for some of you) at some point in the quest to achieve our goals. It’s frustrating. And it can be easy for things to spiral out of control. Motivation disappears. Goals seem unachievable. That 10 km that you were training for seems so distant. What is one to do? How do you dig yourself out of such a rut?

Motivation is a powerful driving force to achieving goals. It is the mental tenacity to push ourselves to get us where we want to be.  But, is motivation all there is? Motivation can be a key factor, but I would argue discipline is of equal or greater value.  I think we can all agree that we getting stuck in a rut and loosing motivation is difficult. The loss of motivation creates a cycle of self doubt, frustration, and set backs, which further sets us back from our goals. However, this is when discipline kicks in.  Discipline is what carries us through to see that our goals are achieved.  It is the drive to move forward despite what we “feel” like doing.

Let’s look at some ideas that can help create an environment where discipline drives us to achieve our activity goals and re-light the stoke!

Goals and Planning

We’ve all heard about SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).  Start with a goal that you know you can reach.  Something that is within your abilities, but challenging enough to improve those abilities and create growth.  Something that will challenge you, and is realistic.  Then, write down the steps needed to achieve that goal.  This is where discipline comes in.  Feeling the motivation to achieve a goal may wane, but when you have a plan written out, you will have to execute that plan regardless of motivation. No excuses.  Make it fun, make it challenging!

Achieving Goals Through Accountability

Accountability can come from an in-person group, such as a climbing, running or hiking group.  But, it can also be found by participating on apps such as Strava or in other online groups.  Online groups or apps create accountability and allow you to set goals online.  Regardless of how you choose to do it, joining activities with other people will push you to achieve your goals by being disciplined.  We all need that friend who will drag us out of the house when the last thing we want to do is go out!  It also makes the experience more fun and interactive.

Accountability is an excellent way to push yourself to achieve your goals

Switching it Up

It’s possible that you’re getting bored of your routine and just need a little change of pace! Maybe you just need to try something new to spark that motivation again. Participate in a new activity that you can have fun with, but will also challenge you.  Maybe it’s time to try dancing, or jazzercise, hiking, or rock climbing, or whitewater rafting. Whatever it is, changing things up may be what is needed to bring some excitement and motivation into your life! Learning new activities will also allow you to improve your overall fitness and wellbeing, thus possibly improving your ability to achieve your set goals.

Fitness Trackers

Fitness trackers are definitely a personal preference, but I have found for myself that having a GPS watch has increased my physical activity significantly.  When I see how many steps a day I take, or the stats of my run, or hike, I find that I get competitive against myself.  This motivates me to try harder.  Having a watch also helps me to see my improvements, which creates a positive environment to stay disciplined and motivated. There are a ton of options out there, so you don’t have to spend $500 on a watch. And again, you can download apps on your phone that act as GPS fitness trackers.

Being able to track your activities can keep you accountable to yourself and others to achieve those goals!

The Mind

Don’t beat yourself up for not feeling motivated.  Positivity matters. Your thoughts do, in fact, determine the direction of your day. Focusing on what you have done, and what you can do is far more beneficial than looking at what you have not done. That being said, learning to let failures or dips in progress push you further towards your goals is also a beneficial lesson to learn. There is a difference between wallowing in your setbacks, giving up on your goals, and being able to see a setback and figuring out how to overcome and push forward. 

It may sound silly, but I started to give myself compliments as I was trying to reach a goal on a particular hike. I wanted to get to the top of this hike in x amount of minutes.  I started trying hard and pushing myself.  Some days I felt like I was dragging myself up the mountain. Other days, I felt like I could go hard.  Regardless, when things would get tough, I would say “good, you’re doing good”, or “you can do this” as I would do the final push to the top.  Honestly, I found a lot more joy in pushing for that goal when I was encouraging myself. It created an environment where I could see where I needed to improve, and was able to push hard, without judging myself.

Motivation and Discipline

In the end, remember that motivation ebbs and flows.  It’s not always going to be there to get you through.  Motivation often follows discipline. It is always better to do something, rather than nothing.  Even if you feel like you just cannot get out there and run that 5 km you had wanted to today.  Maybe today is the day you go out for a walk instead.  Maybe you go to a spin class.  Just try to do something, and work your way from there.  Finding people to encourage and push you will make the journey to your goals much more fulfilling and fun.  Learn to let the failures push you towards your goals. And remember to applaud yourself, because you ARE doing great!

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Wondering about what Strava is? See here for more information: https://www.strava.com/features