It’s been a few weeks, and if you have been keeping to your activities, you may be getting tired or bored of it. And/or sore, if you’re doing some more intense activities. How is your motivation?

Like we said last year, around this time into a challenge, motivation begins to fade and other, more negative thoughts and feelings emerge. If you don’t have a few encouragers or cheer-leaders, this can be the time when the temptation to quit can start getting to you.

The message here is simple: Do what you set out to do. My challenge is for all of us to become better at doing things we set out to do, regardless of the challenges which come up (one of those can be a lack of motivation). I think this really taps into the idea of self-discipline. Anyone can say they are going to get into a new activity, but what makes an achiever out of a “forecaster” is self-discipline. If you learn the skill of continuing to do what you set out to do even when (or, maybe, especially when) you don’t really feel like it, you are demonstrating self-discipline.

My point here is that motivation sounds great at the front end of something. It gets us all pumped up, but it is really only a first-stage rocket. It just blasts us off the launch pad and gets us in motion. Self-discipline is more like the secondary stage rockets which fire just when the previous stage runs out of fuel.

I would say we need both motivation and self-discipline in order to start and continue a behaviour change like starting an activity or exercise program. My experience has been that I personally need more like six weeks at something before I find my motivation and enthusiasm returning, so I have motivation for a week or two at the beginning, and then it fades and I’m running simply on self-discipline. But… I have now learned that my motivation comes back after I get more established in the routine.

So my challenge is to not be surprised when motivation (and sometimes enthusiasm) fade after a week or two; expect that fade and be prepared to fire your second-stage rocket of self-displine which focuses down the road on your objective, and not simply on how “awesome” you are not feeling. If you keep going, you stand a much greater chance of reaching your objective.