by Ben Kutz

Have you ever felt a sudden urge to get something done right then and there, almost being excited to finally do that long-overdue chore or finally start that project? After doing that, the sense of accomplishment and readiness to move onto the next thing can make you feel really productive and proud of what you just did. This is an example of when capitalizing on motivation helped you to achieve something. 

On the flip side of things, have you ever not capitalized in a time that you felt motivated to do something? Most likely, that answer for everyone is a blatant, “Yes!” At some point whether it was in college putting off an assignment, at work putting off a report until the last minute, or even with starting to eat better and exercise a bit more, we have all not capitalized on something we felt extremely motivated to do there in the moment. That’s an example of being motivated and goal oriented but not having the dedication in that time to capitalize on the opportune moment to achieve the goal. 

Oftentimes, people listen to motivational speeches and try to find motivation. The common thinking is that for people who exercise all the time or work really hard all the time that they’re always motivated to do so. They’re always excited to get into the gym and make their muscles work, get a bit sore; they’re always excited to spin all of their gears at work. From an outsider’s perspective, that makes pretty good sense. But, in reality, motivation isn’t a constant when someone is trying to achieve a long-term goal. 

For example, if someone is really motivated to be more active it’s common that they’ll exercise for those first couple of weeks when they’re really excited to take care of their health and maybe they notice some quick gains in exercise. But, after some of those quick gains slow down and “putting in the work” becomes less exciting because of less frequent results, they’ll likely discontinue the habit they just started. This is a time when if they stayed dedicated, if they kept at it even when they weren’t excited about it they eventually would likely achieve their long term goals! But, instead, many people will stop themselves short because they’re no longer motivated to dedicate themselves to long-term progress. 

Some tips to use motivation and dedication together: 

– Plan for times when you’re not feeling motivated by making a small reminder of value to you or even planning for a short break before starting back up and getting back on track. This can be really useful for something like a change to your daily diet. If you count calories and it’s exciting at first, eventually, you may tire of logging all of that information. Take a break for a bit! As an example, a diet break is actually shown to help with long term sustained nutrition goals. 

– Keep in mind that to make a change, in some way you’ll have to feel that change. For example, in exercise there is the principle of overload. Exercise has to be a bit more difficult than what someone is used to depending on their goals if they want to make progress. This will likely mean it’s normal to feel some tightness or soreness after a workout. While that may be uncomfortable, months or years down the line it will pay off!

– If a long term result is exciting but it seems outlandish or daunting to work towards, simply pick something a bit smaller to work yourself in the right direction and get good habits in place. As you reach that smaller milestone, the long-term result is closer and now you’ve figured out things that work for you or don’t work for you. You’ve also got an accomplishment under your belt. 

– Lastly, be ready to reframe your perspective. There will come times when you think what you’re doing isn’t being helpful to reach a goal. But there is always a way to reframe a seemingly sore subject in a more positive light that reflects how far you’ve come. 

Stay dedicated everyone!