Motivation is great. We all want more of it. We want to feel as though something bigger than ourselves is driving us to do things that we feel we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do.
Motivation has it’s purpose but when it comes to long term and challenging goals. It simply isn’t enough to get us all the way.
Motivation will get us off the couch, and put the running shoes on. It will boost your energy levels and encourage you to do something different to begin with.
But it is not there when you didn’t get much sleep the night before and your into your 8th day of fitness and you are simply just too tired. It’s not there when you are emotionally upset and feeling deflated, and it definitely ain’t there when things aren’t going to plan.
This is where you need to have developed rituals. Rituals are something that happens every day, IRRELEVANT to how you are feeling about it. Having good rituals takes practice, we need to develop this muscle.
When we do an action, or feel a certain way on a consistent basis, our brain makes things easier for us by connecting neurons together so that pathways becomes easier to do repetitively. That is why change is initially difficult as our lower sub conscious brain is telling us that we are doing this wrong and can we please go back to how we have always done things in the past, as that is where our brain is comfortable.
In order to change we need to go through a period of discomfort or unease. If we didn’t we would never change or grow. Motivation will help get us through the initial phase. It can help to give our minds another place to go when it is screaming at us that what we are trying to do is stupid, wrong and you really don’t know what you are talking about. Who are you to …. blah blah blah. You know the kind of stuff I’m talking about.
Your lower brain is scared - It hates change. It wants to keep to safe in a little ball of cotton wool and keep things simple. It doesn’t tell us that outright. It simply puts sneaky little nasty thoughts into our heads to encourage us to make choices that it thinks is right for us to keep us safe.
That is where we get to use more of our conscious brain, and become aware of those nasty little thoughts and choose not to give them any power by listening to them. We can choose to think about something different, we can think about what our motivation is to change, whether it be intrinsically or extrinsically derived.
Then we need to implement rituals. Start small. Make a small commitment you can do every day. Make it so simple, and easy to do that you pretty much can’t not do it. You see often we have a belief that we can’t, don’t or never stick to our commitments.
While ever we hold that belief we are never going to achieve all that we want in life.
Nothing is ever achieved without consistent action taken, towards is attainment. It is not the BIG action that is needed - It is consistency. It is the everyday mundane, incremental shifts that will ultimately move the needle.
So start small, develop a ritual that use can then leverage on. You can say to your self “I committed to X everyday, and have followed through so I now know that I can commit to y ”. You will then develop another slightly bigger ritual, and you will feed of that, to then implement a ritual that will really start to make some changes.
Once you see that feel the changes, you will then find it easier to stick to your rituals.
But there are a few things to keep in mind here;
1. Don’t let those sneaky little thoughts enter you head. I found when I first started going to the gym at 5.30am it was easy for the first week as I was “motivated” but then as time went on and my muscles started to ache, I found myself having conversations in my head when my alarm went off. Sneaky little thoughts stated telling me - Oh, your riding another horse today so that can be your fitness, or Nic isn’t going to be there so no one will notice that I’m not there” and so on and so on.
What I had to do is as soon as the alarm went off - Get up. Get up quick before the sneaky little thoughts had a chance to open their mouths. I had my clothes beside my bed so I virtually fell into them. Once I was up there was no problem getting to the gym. Those sneaky little thoughts never had a chance
2. Stick to the small ritual you initially started. There will be a time when things happen and you notice you haven’t been sticking to your big ritual. At that point it can be easy to quit, and make up some sort of excuse as to why it wasn’t for you in the first place. We usually then start getting frustrated and berating ourselves. “You idiot, you knew you could never do it. Oh look, you’ve given up again……” Listening to those thoughts are only going to move us away from our goals, so if you slip up, don’t worry. Be kind to yourself. Think, it’s OK. I am still doing X, I haven’t quit. By sticking to the one simple ritual, you are still in the game. It is easier to make a tackle when you still have your footy boots on!
3. Notice if you start to miss the small ritual as that’s where things start to unravel. This one is a big one for me personally. I have a series of rituals that I do everyday. I had noticed on reflection that whenever I slipped up on my big ritual, I had always slipped up on my little one first. Usually a couple of days before I gave up on the big one. Now I am aware of this, I notice when the little one get’s shaky, and I make darn sure that I continue to do that little one no matter what. When I do that I am able to get through the tricky few days where I may have been more emotional, or life was busy or whatever and continue to do my little ritual. In doing that my big ones hold fast too.
4. Don’t let emotions have a say in your rituals. These rituals need to be done on days when you are happy, days when you feel like everyone is against you, days when you feel useless, days when you are crazy busy, or days when you can’t be bothered and would rather be doing something else. Rituals don't care. I don’t care how you feel. You do them anyway.
HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT DOING YOUR RITUAL DOESN’T MATTER.
YOU JUST DO THEM.
END OF STORY
So if you have a big goal - Bloody Fantastic!
Set yourselves 3 rituals today.
One that you will begin today. Make it easy. Ensure it is something you are willing to commit to.
Another that that is uncomfortable, but is achievable and has short term gains.
Lastly, one that makes you feel a little uneasy about doing it, but that you know will ultimately move the needle towards where you are heading and give you long term results.
Start with the first, and when you trust yourself in sticking to your commitments, implement the other two. How long this takes is different for everyone. Some will be onto all 3 in three days, others might take three weeks. How ever long it takes for you is perfectly fine.
You know you are well on your way, when these rituals become so sub conscious that you find yourself doing them without even thinking about it. You have connected neurons together in such a way that they fire together effortlessly. There are no nasty little conversations going on in your head, as they know there is no point speaking up, they won’t be heard anyway.
Let me know what your rituals are and how you go with this. If you would like a hand or talk this concept through more, get in touch. I’m always around and happy to help in anyway I can.