The 6 Steps to Sustainable Motivation

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Pixmac000053279685Many of us have found ourselves setting a number of resolutions as we head into the New Year.  Sadly, many of these goals are short-lived and our determination fizzles out after just a couple months (or even weeks).  The key to maintaining a running routine is finding the motivation to exercise.

Our expert contributor Damian Vaughn, has provided us with the following tips to use when beginning your journey to a healthy, active lifestyle.


The 6 Steps to Sustainable Motivation:

1. Think BIG and plan Small ­

Take 20 ­ 30 minutes to relax in quiet and contemplate and clarify what goals really get your blood pumping.

2. Long term goals should be BIG and BOLD.

They should stretch the boundaries of who you think you are and what you think you are capable of at this moment in time. This is the process of differentiation in what makes you distinct and unique.

3. Plan backwards and identify as many micro-goals as possible for each and every week.

The key to this process is identifying what measure of feedback you can use to know how you are doing in this process. For example, if you choose to measure your success on weight loss, muscle gain, body-fat percentage, distance running, etc. choose specific goals for each week that gently nudge your boundaries.

4. Take the approach of the “gentle stretch” – This is a critical component.

If we set our immediate goals to high, we’ll set ourselves up for inevitable failure and give up. We must just do a little bit more than our comfort levels, but not too much more. We want to keep coming back..Why? Because we enjoy it..we find joy in the exercise..not because we find pain in it. This is a paradigm-shift from the typical “stress-recover” model of push the body to complete exhaustion and then recover. This is pointless for sustainable growth and engagement in the process.

Now, let’s not confuse the point here. It is not that we avoid pushing ourselves, it’s just that we avoid pushing ourselves too hard. We must gently stretch out boundaries week-after-week. We enter into a state of “Flow” (the inherently human experience when one is fully immersed into the activity at hand in which you experience a loss of self-consciousness, transformation of time, and optimal action) when our goals both clear and challenging, but not so challenging that it inhibits our drive and causes anxiety. We also don’t want to set goals too low that we aren’t stretched at all and become bored with the process.

5. Baby Step into the Present Moment ­

This involves the equally fundamental component to personal evolution of integration. We must integrate consciousness and physical action into the activity by letting go of those goals and getting fully engaged into the task at hand. We can put those goals to rest once the work is done of clarifying intent and feedback for measuring our progress. With this critical first phase behind us, we are free to invest our physical and psychic energy into the moment, whatever that activity may be (running stairs, lifting weights, moving our bodies in a cardio class, or taking that first walk in the neighborhood).

6. Follow the Momentum ­

With these critical processes in place (differentiation and integration) we can trust that the momentum of action and awareness will move us forward in sustainable progress.

Once you have these key factors in place, there’s very little trying involved. If planned properly, you’ll find yourself so engaged in the journey, that you’ll forget the destination that you had even set in the first place! This gives rise to the possibility of achieving something beyond even your imagination!

Damian Vaughn,

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