Finding motivation: 'Without help I am never going to exercise - and I can't see that changing.'
Updated: Jun 29
Exercise. It’s divisive –there are the people that love it, people that hate it and those people in the middle somewhere that know they have to do it to keep on top of their weight/strength/flexibility etc. Perhaps those people in the middle are the ones that play a team sport to make sure that they are held accountable to keep moving. Now how you deal with money (and your spenditude) and how you deal with exercise (your fititude?) are completely different, but stick with me for a moment.
I’m no fitness expert (I’ll get to that) but regardless of where you are on the fititude scale, it is hard to understand the other types. The fit person doesn’t understand why the unfit person “can’t find time for exercise” and the person in the middle can’t see how those marathon runners really, genuinely, enjoy running. Here’s the thing – fitness books/blogs/programs seem to be written by fit people. They are trying to convince the unfit or the mid-fit from their perspective that “exercise really is great”. They just can’t understand the mindset of the people further down the scale.
Fit people want to help unfit people find their motivation - they encourage, they ‘cheerlead’ and they praise. But what really motivates someone to improve their fitness?
Three years ago I was the unfit person who didn’t exercise. I could not find the time between family, work and social commitments to go to the gym, join a team or go for a jog. I wasn’t terribly overweight, it’s just that I don’t enjoy exercise. I decided I needed a kickstart, a trainer to get me moving, and I dipped in to one thing that I knew would motivate me – money. Sounds terrible doesn’t it, that I was motivated to exercise through money. As a Defender I have never been willing to commit to a gym that makes me agree to any kind of contract of payment. Knowing myself and my lack of enthusiasm for exercise I know that I would be throwing money at something which, for me, was wasteful. I would be that person starting with gusto, and as soon as I could find a reason to quit I would grab it with both hands and hold tight.
My trainer started out with all the enthusiasm that I lacked – what were my goals, how often could I see her, providing me with eating and exercise tips and encouraging me to do more. Trouble is, none of those things inspire me. I don’t want to restrict my diet too much, feel pressured to track my weight, BMI or measurements. Yet, three years on I continue to attend. Without help I am never going to exercise. I sit at the lower end of the fititude scale and I can't see that changing.
Fitness and spenditude aren’t the same. But the interesting thing is, finding motivation for any change and then sticking with that change must come from a place of self awareness.
Had I relied on my trainer to motivate me I would have failed. I don’t read many fitness blogs or websites, but I have seen a variety of tips like starting with 10,000 steps a day, stretching more, or eating less sugar. If I was to take up these tips without understanding my own motivation and purpose I would fall off the proverbial wagon many times over (yo-yo diet anyone?). Knowing that I want to be healthier and actually taking steps to achieve that are two different things.
The desire to keep up my exercise routine comes down to finding my own motivation. So I have worked out what they are - my kids, the desire to not look like a hunchback after spending way too many hours on a computer each week and a couple of minor health scares.
Motivation increases when we are driven by something deeper. I may have started exercising knowing that paying for the sessions would keep me there in the short term, but in the longer term I need a better understanding of my deeper purpose. If I couldn’t find that then I would have failed, no matter how many people cheered me on, ‘liked’ the new healthier version or helped me set goals.
In order to motivate someone we must help them find within themselves what is their purpose. This is the point. It wasn’t money that motivated me. Money may have been a catalyst but the real desire for change and motivation comes from somewhere deeper.
We must find our own motivation for any change that we want to make.
Changing your financial position doesn’t start with budgets, savings targets or your bank balance. It starts with awareness. Of your own motivation, your own purpose, your spenditude. I can’t motivate you, but I can encourage you to ask questions and discover new realities.
Bringing awareness to your spenditude will help you to challenge some of the notions you have about money. If you can find the reasons that are deeper you will have more success. When we make choices and changes based on a bigger picture we experience greater rewards. Challenge yourself.