We all need a little help getting out the door every once in a while. If you're feeling a little rundown by winter or need some help to tackle an imposing task or adventure or a new exercise regimen, read on for our six tips to stay mega-motivated:
- Rename your nervous energy. Studies show that just by telling yourself it’s excitement, not nerves, you actually start feeling that way. It’s called reappraisal and it works. In two experiments, people who reframed their nervousness as excitement before performing a task did better than their nervous friends who just tried to stay calm.
- Rocky Balboa was on to something. Runners who listened to the theme song from Rocky (“Eye of the Tiger,” by Survivor) before a 60-metre dash beat runners with comparable times in the distance who didn’t listen to anything. Their heart rates were quicker, muscles tenser and anxiety lower. Any song works, say leading music for motivation researchers, as long as it physically energizes, stimulates and activates your senses. Oh—and you need to like it. In a study, people who listened to music they liked cycled farther than those listening to music they didn’t like. Take home: bring your own playlist.
- Create a ritual. Numerous studies show consistent pre-event routines help athletes perform better. Whatever it is, make it personal and easy to repeat, but it doesn’t have to be logical or rational.
- Forget the reward. Carrots and sticks don’t create motivation. Science suggests motivation is a product of AMP: Autonomy, as in freedom to figure it out on your own; Mastery, learning and improving along the way; and Purpose, contributing to something important or bigger than yourself.
- Remember, it’s fun! Some things look like a lot of work, and not a lot of fun—from the outside. Think about a mountain bike ride in the rain. Ewww! That’s because you’re forgetting the emotional reward buried inside the experience. Instead of focusing on what those first few hundred metres are going to feel like—gross—think about what fun the descent is going to be or how good you’ll feel after you’re finished.
- Make a plan. When researchers ask people how often they planned to exercise in a week, the planning participants exercised longer than those who didn’t plan—by about 90 additional minutes per week. The key, though, is anticipating what might stop you from exercising and then creating a plan to overcome it. In another study, 91 per cent of people who made a work out plan kept it up, while only 39 per cent of non-planners stayed active.
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