How to Break the Motivation Rut

Of all the questions I get asked on a daily basis (and I get asked a LOT), a good 70% relate to motivation issues.


Motivation is tricky to address, as it really is a case of different strokes for different folks. Like most matters of the brain, we all respond differently to different stimuli – one person’s motivational epiphany can be another’s undoing. Case in point: the dreaded scales. An undesired number could fuel you to train and diet your socks off for the next month, or it could knock you flying off the wagon into a ‘why do I bother’ downward spiral.


That said, there are two factors that are key for almost anyone: proper goal setting and regular progress tracking. If motivation issues are holding you back, but you really want progress (not just to think about it, not just to moan about it, but truly, genuinely WANT it), I challenge you to get proactive right now. Set aside an hour and do these three things TODAY:



1. Set SMART goals.


I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Failure to plan is planning to fail”. Having a clear and realistic plan is enough to make or break your success. When you set goals, it helps to use the SMART acronym…


S = Specific

No blanket statements allowed here – get right down into the small print of what you want to achieve: this should include the numbers, the physical changes and the psychological benefits.


M = Measurable

How you can measure your progress towards each aspect of your goal? For body goals, this could be taking tape measurements every 2-4 weeks, trying on those jeans monthly and taking progress photos. To measure fitness, you can do time and distance tests, flexibility tests, strength tests and endurance tests. Health-wise, you can check blood pressure and resting pulse rate, or you can visit your GP regularly for any relevant blood tests etc.


A = Agreed

Is this what you truly want for yourself? Are you willing to do everything possible to achieve it?


R = Realistic

Are these goals physically achievable? If there’s a celebrity body you’d like to have, are you the same height and build as that celebrity? If not, then find an inspirational body that is feasible based on your own genetics. Have you selected realistic fitness goals, based on your current ability and the timeframe in which to train? You need to be entirely honest with yourself here. If your goals aren’t realistic, then your journey is going to be incredibly frustrating, and you’ll likely become too discouraged to see your goals through. Be 100% that you can do it, and you will!


T = Time-framed

Having taken all the other points into account, you can now set yourself a date by which you’d like to achieve your ultimate goal. Break this down into dates by which you’d like to have achieved smaller goals. These should coincide with when you measure your progress. If you’re taking monthly tape measurements, what inch loss would like to see each month? If you’re doing endurance tests, how many more push-ups do you want to be able to do each time?


It’s SMART to be Adaptable

Once you’ve set and mapped out your long- and short-term SMART goals, make sure that they’re written down, and that you refer to them regularly. If your goals change, or you realise that some of the things you’ve set yourself aren’t quite as realistic as you thought, don’t be afraid to reassess and change your goals. It’s all about adapting the process to you, and ultimately, that’s what’s going to ensure your success.



2. Establish your ‘Before’.


For body goals: Take full-body front/back/side photos in underwear or swimwear. If you can’t or won’t get someone to take these for you, do it yourself in a full length mirror. If you don’t have a full length mirror, go to a clothes shop and commandeer the changing room. No sucking in, no carefully flattering angles, no ‘upper body only’ and no excuses – you’ll thank me later when you need to have an accurate comparison to gauge all the incredible progress you’re going to make. Every 4 weeks from now on, take photos in the same poses, similar clothing and (if possible) the same lighting.


For fitness goals: Complete a relevant time, strength or distance trial in your chosen sport. No cheating, no ‘rounding up’, no using your Personal Best from three years ago. Record the details and use this as your baseline for improvement. A fitness trial may take a bit of setting up, so if you can’t do it today, organise it and schedule it into the diary today. Every 4 weeks, repeat the trial and record your numbers.



3. Get accountable.


Leave a comment below, or tweet me @charlicohen with hashtag #MOTIVATED to tell me you’ve completed steps 1 and 2!


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