Jun 17, 2020

How to sustain motivation?

I was talking to a startup founder a couple of weeks back and one of our common interest areas was "health and wellness". He brought up an interesting point, "I believe the key problem to address in this space is the lack of sustained motivation". 

I have been mulling over this phrase - sustained motivation and started observing myself to understand this phrase in depth. 

This morning, I rolled my Yoga mat to start my morning practice. The next one hour felt so blissful as I stretched and pushed myself. I wouldn't have done this self-practice a couple of years back but now it has become a habit every morning, especially since the lockdown in March.

What has changed in order to feel this motivation and sustain it for a period of time? I think it boils down to these 4 reasons:

Intrinsic desire:
I have started telling myself, "I want to do Yoga". The statement is no longer "I have to do Yoga". This simple change in the conversation we have with ourselves makes a world of difference. We need to feel that want, that desire in order to pursue a goal.

Tiny wins:
While going for my classes, I used to set tiny goals for myself - hold a particular asana for at least 7 counts, hold the plank for at least 15 counts etc. I'm continuing the same habit while doing self-practice these days. Recognizing and appreciating tiny wins matter. Let's not link success with big outcomes like losing 10 kgs in a month OR doing shirsasana as soon as we enroll for Yoga. Knowing our current potential, setting tiny challenges to improve ourselves and valuing these tiny wins is the way to sustain motivation in the long run. 

Results and process:
Since I have been practicing Yoga for nearly 5 years, I have realized the tremendous benefits it has brought in me, both in my body as well as mind. Let me admit - results do motivate me quite a bit. Having brought up in a society that values achievement and accomplishment, I'm not gonna feel bad for saying that out aloud. I have also realized that until I enjoy the process, I don't see myself pushing towards the intended results. The process needs to be fun and joyful in order to feel motivated. For any wellness related effort, after a time period of 3-6 months, our body starts to respond beautifully. Enjoying the process for those 3-6 months is essential for us to start noticing the intended results.

Influence of our family/society:
It is quite upsetting to see the health ailments that my family elders deal with - diabetes, blood pressure, arthritis, obesity etc. I don't want to get into the trap of lifestyle diseases and the numerous medications (and their side effects). It is not about anxiety or worry but more about understanding my priorities that prevention is better than cure. I visualize myself to be a fit and active person in my 60s and 70s. 

What motivates you to sustain your effort for a longer period of time? Share in the comments.

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