The date is January 1st. After a long, strenuous year of questionable decisions and way too much takeout, you make a life-altering promise to yourself. This is the year that you are going to get your butt in motion. You’re going to lose those 50 lbs that have been literally weighing you down. You made up your mind and will do anything and everything to lose the weight. Finally, here is the motivation you have waited for all these years.
By the end of the day, you manage to make several small, but important, changes in your life. You fixed up that old rusty bike that has sat in the garage for years. You are planning to ride it to work every single day, even if it’s raining. They make weird little umbrella hats, right?
Your credit cards sank into a container of water. Then you cleverly hid it in the back of the freezer to make accessing them more difficult.
You picked up a week’s worth of fresh fruit and vegetables at the grocery store. Afterwards, you stopped by the ATM. You read that carrying cash is better for sticking to a budget and avoiding spontaneous, often regretful, purchases. So, that’s just what you plan to do. That will help prevent you from making unhealthy purchases on a whim.
It starts to rain on your way home and you realize you might not want to get soaked on your bike ride to work. This calls for a quick trip to the gym where you happily renew your membership that hasn’t been used in over 10 months.
Later that night, bags of chips and other junk food sit discarded in the bottom of the trash bin. You didn’t even try to sneak any of the chocolate glazed donuts despite how tempted you were with your stomach caving in from hunger.
You are truly motivated, and nothing will interfere with your progress.
Fast-forward to four months later. Spring is here, the birds are chirping, and you’re hard at work flipping through the channels trying to find something to watch while you wait for your third pizza delivery of the week.
The screen flickers over an infomercial about some fancy new overpriced diet formula that guarantees to help you lose weight and keep it off without any changes to your diet and exercise. You scoff, knowing that can’t possibly be true. After all, you already tried it a month ago, and somehow managed to gain weight instead.
In that moment, you begin thinking about all the promises that you have made to yourself and all the work that you put in for those first few weeks. There’s no describing the feelings of self-loathing and anger that build up inside you. How could you let yourself down again after you were so motivated and wanted so badly to make your new health plans stick?!
They don’t make an infomercial for this moment, at least as far as I know, but if they did, here’s what the overly excited host would tell you.
It’s not entirely your fault. Sure, you’re responsible for the choices you made and the things you did, or didn’t do, that thwarted your progress. Those things were in your control, and you blew it. Here’s the thing, though – your mission was doomed from the start because you relied too heavily on your initial motivation to carry you through.
Despite how you feel, you’re not alone. Everywhere you look, you are likely to see at least one person who is in a similar situation and feels just as helpless. When did they begin to lose motivation and not even realize it? How could that happen?
It’s physics, really, and it’s not even a new concept.
Newton’s First Law of Motion (Law of Inertia): An object at rest will stay at rest, and an object in motion will stay in motion at the same speed and direction unless acted upon by a force.
Simply put, once something starts moving, like your car, it keeps moving at the same speed unless some other force causes it to stop or change directions, like you hitting the brake pedal.
If you apply this principle to motivation, it begins to make sense that motivation is not something that you can count on to continue forward at the same speed simply because you want it to. Internal and external forces will always act against it. It’s up to you to make the actions necessary to maintain its speed and direction.
[bctt tweet=”Motivation follows Newton’s laws of motion. #TodayILearned #Physics #Motivation”]
Every small decision that you make, consciously or subconsciously, has the potential to derail your momentum. If you’re sick for a few days and can’t make it to the gym, that forward motion slows. If there’s a party at your office and you let someone talk you into taking a slice of cake back to your desk, forward motion slows. Depression, exhaustion, anxiety… forward motion slows. Some of these things are out of your control, and it’s nothing to feel guilty or beat yourself up about.
What matters is how you respond during that initial attack on your motivation and after the resulting damage. You cannot allow internal or external forces to continuously push against you without ever pushing back. Eventually you will find yourself either standing still or walking backwards on the freeway.
[bctt tweet=”If you allow forces to push against you without pushing back, you will find yourself walking backwards.”]
It’s just physics and neither you nor I can do anything to change the facts. We can, however, fight back and take control before things get out of hand. Better yet, we can learn to not only realize when something has affected our forward momentum, but maybe even recognize some of the warning signs that may allow us to prevent it from happening.
If you’re motivated to make a change, you will need dedication and determination to help propel you forward. Without those two things, you’re fighting against physics.
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Any opinions expressed are strictly my own. If I wouldn’t eat, drink, or use something, neither should you (and I wouldn’t suggest otherwise).
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