Routine and Habit = Long-Term Motivation

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Routine and Habit = Long-Term Motivation

“At some point, the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.”

In other words, at some point, it is easier to change than to stay the same. It is easier to take action and feel insecure at the gym than to sit and experience self-loathing on the couch.

This is the essence of motivation. Every choice has a price. When we’re motivated, it is easier to bear the inconvenience of action than the pain of remaining the same. Somehow we cross a mental threshold. Usually, after weeks of procrastination, it becomes more painful to not do the work than to actually do it.

Now for the important question! What can we do to make it more likely that we cross this mental threshold and feel motivated on a consistent basis?

Motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Getting started, even in very small ways, is a form of active inspiration. And that creates natural momentum.

You don’t need much motivation once you’ve started a behavior. After you start, progress occurs more natural. In other words, it is often easier to finish a task than it was to start it in the first place. BUT the key is staying consistent with the new behavior…. You must stick with the new behavior to make it an unconscious habit and routine…

Schedule your motivation! If your workout isn’t scheduled, you’ll wake up thinking, “I hope I’m feeling motivated to exercise today.”

Setting a schedule for yourself is simple. It puts your decision-making on autopilot by giving your goals a time and a place to live. It makes it more likely that you will follow through.

Stop waiting for motivation or inspiration to strike you and set a schedule for your habits

High achievers aren’t dependent on motivation or inspiration. but rather follow a consistent pattern and routine. Here are some examples of how you can apply ritual and routine to get motivated:

  • Consistent exercise: Schedule a time slot for the gym and make it the same every day.

  • Plan your events for the day: Know where you will be and what you will be doing every day so you make sure it gets done.

  • Start each day stress-free: Create a five-minute morning meditation ritual.

  • Sleep better: Follow a “power down” routine before bed.

The power of a ritual is that it provides a mindless way to start your behavior. I also call this a pre-game routine. It makes starting your habits easier. It makes following through on a consistent basis is easier.

The key to any good ritual is that it removes the need to make a decision: What should I do first? When should I do this? How should I do this? Most people never get moving because they can’t decide how to get started. You want starting a behavior to be easy and automatic. so you have the strength to finish it when it becomes difficult and challenging.

How to Make Motivation a Habit

There are three simple steps you can take to build better rituals and make motivation a habit.

Step 1: A good pre-game routine starts by being so easy that you can’t say no to it. You shouldn’t need the motivation to start your pre-game routine. For example, my writing routine starts by getting a glass of water. My weightlifting routine starts by putting on my lifting shoes. These tasks are so easy, I can’t say no to them.

The most important part of any task is starting. If you can’t get motivated in the beginning, then you’ll find that motivation often comes after starting. That’s why your pre-game routine needs to be super easy to start.

Step 2: Your routine should get you moving toward the end goal.

A lack of mental motivation is often linked to a lack of physical movement. Imagine your physical state when you’re feeling depressed, bored, or unmotivated. You’re not moving very much. You’re slumped over like a blob, melting slowly into the couch.

The opposite is also true. If you’re moving and engaged, then it’s far more likely that you’ll feel mentally engaged and energized. For example, it’s almost impossible to not feel vibrant, awake, and energized when you’re dancing.

Your routine should be as easy as possible to start. It should then be a slow transition into more and more physical movement. Your mind and your motivation will follow your physical movement. It is worth noting that physical movement doesn’t have to mean exercise. For example, if your goal is to lift, then your routine should bring you closer to the physical act of lifting.

Step 3: You need to follow the same pattern every single time.

The primary purpose of your pre-game routine is to create a series of events. Events which you always perform before doing a specific task. Your pre-game routine tells your mind, “This is what happens before I do ___.”

Soon this routine becomes so tied to your performance! By doing the routine, you’re pulled into a mental state that is ready to perform. You don’t need to know how to find motivation, you need to start your routine.

Reminder (The cue or trigger that starts the habit). Routine (The action you take, the habit itself). Reward (the benefit you get from doing the habit)!

This is important because when you don’t feel motivated, it’s often too much work to figure out what you should do next. When faced with another decision, you will often decide to quit. The pre-game routine solves that problem because you know exactly what to do next. There’s no debating or decision making. Lack of motivation doesn’t matter. You need to follow the pattern.

How to Stay Motivated for the Long-Run

We have covered some strategies for making it easier to get motivated and start a task. What about maintaining motivation over the long-run? How can you stay motivated for good?

Use The Goldilocks Rule. This rule outlines when humans will experience peak motivation. When working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities = peak motivation. Not too hard. Not too easy.

Working on the edge of your ability is one of the keys to maintaining long-term motivation. If you find yourself feeling unmotivated to work on a task, it is often because it is too hard or too easy. You need to find a way to pull your tasks back to the border of your abilities where you feel challenged, but capable.

Achieving a challenge of optimal difficulty will boost motivation. Then you will also experience a boost in happiness.

What to Do When Motivation Fades

Sooner or later, your motivation to perform a task will dip at some point. What happens when motivation fades? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I try to remind myself of why I first started and how easy it can be to start!

This Is Life

Life is a constant balance between giving in to the ease of distraction, discipline. It is not an exaggeration to say that our lives and our identities show in this delicate balance. What is life, if not the sum of a hundred thousand daily battles and tiny decisions to either gut it out or give it up?

This moment when you don’t feel like doing the work? This is not a moment to throw away. This is not a dress rehearsal. This moment is your life as much as any other moment. Spend it in a way that will make you proud.

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