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When Motivation Fails

Updated: Oct 15, 2019

Because how do you stick to an autoimmune healing plan without it?


Some days I really don't want to leave the house.

I would rather be folding laundry, mopping the floor, cleaning the oven, cleaning toilets, if I could just stay home in my yoga pants and fuzzy socks.

To me, this is a hilarious and baffling hiccup in the essence of my personality.

I love to be outdoors. I love to be active. I love the feeling of my heart pounding, hearing my breathing as I pound the pavement, a gravel road, or bike up a hill. I love the sunshine, I love the snow. I love to be in the gym, I love to be around lots of people.

So where does my motivation go every once in a while, mid-goal, and leave me alone to fight to comb my hair and put on a bra to brave the world outside my cozy home?

Or do leg day?

Or go on a hike?

Or go to church?

As I looked at it, I found a sneaky little thought that has held me back more than once before.

It was the thought that I need motivation in order to get things done.

If I didn't have it, then I seemed to have an out.

So what can I do when I am not feeling motivated?

1. Count on not feeling motivated

It doesn't mean something is wrong. It means that sometimes my mind and body want to stay in comfort. If that isn't what is best for me, then I'm going to need a really good reason why to push myself that day.

2. Have a compelling reason

When my motivation dwindles, I rely on commitment. Commitment is the reason behind deciding to do it in the first place.

And it's got to be a good one to budge me out of the house on some days.

When I decided that something is worth doing, I write down the compelling reasons why I am choosing to do it.

The funny thing is that these reasons are not what may motivate you or the lady next door. They are just for me. Not the things that are "supposed" to motivate me, but the things that ACTUALLY DO.


I really don't like leg day. Although it only has 4 sets total, it lasts me quite a long time because I drag it out until the bitter end.

So what are my compelling reasons?

I love how my legs look when they are cut.

I love putting on a pair of shorts and taking a minute in the mirror to say, "Dang, girl! Look at you!"

I also know that the better care I take of my lower body, the less vulnerable I am to injury. I hate being injured.

And I want to be able to hike up and see those views that only a few get to see. I love the peace of the views!

I want to be able to keep up with my cycling group.

I want to be able to run without pain.

And lastly, if I put it on my list of things to do, I want to be reliable for myself. This is such a compelling thing for me. I want to be as reliable for myself as I am for my best friends or my kids. I want to trust myself 100%. I want to develop authority over urges and know that there is a functioning parent over the toddler in my brain that just wants to throw a fit until it gets her way.

That's not good for me.

I want to do things that are good for me.

Are some of these based on something less than noble.

Psh, yeah!

But the truth is, I'm willing to work for some vanity, so on my list it goes!

This can be used with reasons for keeping a budget, sticking to a diet plan, putting effort into a marriage, going to church, anything that requires pushing through the discomfort the brain tries so hard to avoid.

3. Recognize that motivation is a feeling that is generated by a thought.

I keep a list of thoughts and things that generate motivation in my life.

My first thought is that I can generate motivation in my own life. I don't need to wait for the motivation fairy. That girl may never come and I have got stuff to do.

My motivation list grows as I look for new things and try new things that work.

My list includes things like:

*Upbeat music. I have my favorites that are guaranteed to get me up and dancing. It doesn't take long before I'm ready to go get 'em.

*Start out small. I give myself permission to give it a try for 5 minutes and if I still don't want to, I can stop. I've never stopped once I get started.

*Help someone. There is nothing that gets me up and going like helping another person. It fuels me for days sometimes.

*Keep my word to myself. When I am telling myself, "Girl, I know you are there for me", there is no way I'll let her down. I'll be telling myself things like, "I got you", "You've got this", and I'm there.

*Imagine the best. Sometimes I'm procrastinating because I'm imagining something I dread happening. I have the same ability to imagine the why not?


If you can recognize any of these things in your life, may I share some hacks that I have needed? These are things that tripped me up and if I can give you a leg up, girl, I hope you can use my stumbles to get yourself up faster than I did.

1. Recognizing the difference between pushing myself in a healthy way and an unhealthy way.

There are many areas in my life that motivation just isn't a consideration. I am a very determined goal-getter. When people hear some of the things I do, they assume that I am an adrenaline junkie, but I'm not. I'm a dopamine junkie. Through and through. I have even been known to push for goals to my own detriment.

This becomes blaringly obvious with autoimmune disease.

I can easily push through signals that I can't hear or don't want to hear in order to get that workout in.

To keep this in check, health has become my overarching compelling reason that I do things.

As badly as I want to keep up with my cycling group, pushing it too hard lands me in bed. I needed to move from a fear-based mentality of being left out to a love-based mentality of doing what is best and loving for my hard-working body. Loving myself, accepting my efforts, and trusting my body were most important when working toward this aim. The fact is, that some of those days when I don't want to leave the house, are actually my hard-working body letting me know that I really need a break in order to heal and recover.

This takes a lot of self-awareness and insight as to when I may be self-sabotaging or when I can honestly say that I would, if I thought I could without harm to my health.

2. Only commit when it is worth it

That toddler in my brain who just wants to do what is comfortable is like the ones we've all seen at the store.

(And I'll be the first to admit that I was one and raised a few as well.)

If I tell them I am not buying a candy bar today and then reward the tantrum by buying it anyways, I just trained my child to throw a fit the next time I say no. My toddler brain will do the same. If I don't intend to follow through and am 100% committed, it doesn't belong on my list of important things.

I made a note to myself that if it isn't worth the work, don't even put it on the list of important things. No guilt. No judgement. That's just where I'm at.

Now go take that run!


Stay home and rest.

You'll know what to do.

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