Motivation is a driving force in all our actions and basically in our 'Key To Happiness'. To keep motivation at the forefront of your consciousness, you have to provide a significant lever. There has to be something inside you that makes you want to change, some image or compulsion or even a threat that is going to make you change your current behavior and adopt a new one.
I've recently undertaken a 21 day yoga challenge which is almost at completion. The process has been long overdue and one that I have wanted to commit to for some time since giving up my daily yoga practice shortly after retiring from performing. I've always been 'wanting' to get back into it and even had the space to do it, but it's a recent bit of space that has seen me commit to it.
There are many different practices to influence motivation, but often the 'self-talk' is the thing that is most powerful for levering action as opposed to 'wishing' that you were more motivated. Constantly telling yourself that you are 'tired' or 'not able to' is reinforcing the negative aspect of an action. Putting self talk into the positive is the best way to begin ensuring that you will complete an action rather than 'wishing' yourself to perform it without actively seeking it.
Consistency is often the best way to ensure that you are able to achieve your goals. Nothing is ever achieved in one day. The best way to develop consistency is by forming a 'habit'. Deciding at the beginning of the week that you are going to do something on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and then identifying the times so that they are locked in, sets a definitive space and schedule for the action, which you are more likely to commit to.
Often a transition from couch potato to active individual is brought about by an upheaval. Again, a sufficient lever to promote you into action as opposed to sitting back and being 'reactionary'. This can be a threat of ill health (such as a doctor's dressing down of your lifestyle), a failed attempt at a 20km hike or a sudden realisation that you are under and below a level of health/fitness that you thought you were. Seizing on these 'opportunities' are a great way to propel you forward into your new habit forming action. Seizing that moment and beginning 'now' rather than later creates urgency which results in you being more likely to follow the momentum you are creating.
Committing to actions that bring about change is often difficult, especially when the new 'lever' is not so new anymore. Creating goal posts are important - essentially new levers along the way to help you keep on target. Trying to pitch yourself into a life long commitment in the first stages of any new program is doomed to failure. Measured and shorter term goals that contribute to the larger goal are the best way to keep you on track and eager to commit. Reward has to be part of the package, there is no point punishing yourself without any carrot dangling at the end. Give yourself 4 week intervals. Set goals and tick them off as you achieve them. "Great journeys start with one step"
Often, just getting yourself in close proximity to a location is the key to commitment. Getting to the gym, or yoga studio or running track is often the biggest challenge. Having a buddy who is relying on you is one way to ensure a decent enough lever, or having to take the route home that goes past the gym is another way. Just committing to getting there is often enough to make you stick to the commitment. Once you are there, sometimes you just complete it out of habit.
With any situation, measured success is brought about by careful planning. Don't make the goal too big initially, scale it down and give yourself easy, achievable markers that will contribute to the longevity of the habit. Focus on your main 'lever' and build it into a habit forming routine. 21 days is often the time it takes to ensure that a behavior is reinforced enough to be carried into habit.
It all starts with the planning - so plan to get your goal right and see how close you can get. You may just surprise yourself.