Kick Starting Your Motivation!


by Lesley Paterson

World Champion Professional Triathlete, Lyme’s patient, Paleo eater, and official member of “brought back from the brink by Dr. David Minkoff” club.

"Many a False Step Was Made by Standing Still" - Fortune Cookie

As I close the book on last year and get stuck in to training for a new year, the inevitable “M” word rears its ugly head. Yup, M stands for MOTIVATION. Some of us have too little of it, some of us have too much of it – but either way, it’s important to understand how to find that optimal level to get you through these early months, particularly for those not blessed with warm winters.

Whether you’re a professional athlete, a new mom trying to get back in shape, or a senior battling arthritis, the first steps after some time off are the hardest. Motivation to move is like a snowball rolling downhill. The first push is the hardest, but as it picks up speed it builds in size and power. This is why every seemingly insurmountable challenge is akin to answering the age old question: How do you eat an elephant? A: one bite at a time. So, if your new year’s resolution of “to get fit” is already gathering dust, here’s a simple way to administer CPR… 

  1. Ask yourself this question: What one small step can I do TODAY to restart it? It’s critical to focus on the word “small step” and “today.” For example, as you read this it might already by 6pm, or it’s already dark and cold outside, or there a gazillion other reasons why tomorrow is better than today. But here’s the secret to motivation. Try to do ONE thing EVERYDAY towards your goal – even if it’s laughably small. Look up the opening times TODAY of the local YMCA, write in your diary TODAY what you plan to do tomorrow, go lay out the clothes TODAY that you plan to jog in tomorrow. No step is too small. Just make a step. It’s the 100 little nudges on the snowball that will start the roll. It’s just like how to show someone you love them, except his time it’s about YOU!

  2. Here’s one exercise I do each year, and I strongly recommend you try it too to help “know your why” and how to fuel motivation at the beginning of the year. For example, why do you jog or take an exercise class? Why do you want to change and start up this new regime? Don’t focus on the all the reasons that are stopping you, only the benefits. If you USED to do the activity, think back to why got your started in the first place. For each reason, write ONE sentence about what you’re doing to keeping nurturing this reason, or what you plan to do TODAY that specifically addresses it. As a professional triathlete, I do this exercise every year to help remind myself to have well-rounded goals and to not get overly hung up on very specific performance goals like times, placings, and PRs. If you struggle to come up with things that target long lost goals, you know what you need to do – start building in more activities that help. For example, if your activity of choice is becoming less fun and more of chore, it’s time to add in some fun events or new activities. Why not try a yoga class or the introduction free personal training intro session offered at your local gym? Your brain loves a new challenge!

Whatever you do, try to do something TODAY to inch you forward. Go on, take a leap, even it’s more of a hop.