“One key to mastering your motivation and goals is finding your ‘superpower’ and using it to conquer challenges. Don’t fight what you are good at.”
Dennis Timpanaro (founder, GOtivation) and the always authentic, coach Jess O’Connell get deep on motivation in this episode of the Fearless w/Jess O’Connell podcast.
Listen and discover:
💡 How to overcome being uncomfortable at the gym, office, or in a relationship
💡 Why training your mindset and motivation are the first steps to getting back in shape
💡 Asking for help without feeling embarrassed
💡 Where to find more shirtless photos of Dennis (hint…Instagram)
“I want to lose weight, but I just don’t have the motivation.”
You’re not alone. Two-thirds of gym members have no motivation and only show up for the first four weeks of January.
Could you imagine subscribing to Netflix and not watching a single show after February 1st?
Why are we so motivated to watch the next episode of GLOW and dread making a healthy dinner? Is it part of who we are?
It’s called your Motivational Personality™. And it’s something you can discover from the comfort of your couch.
Every Personality has the ability to get motivated. We all can learn the skills needed to stay fit and be confident when we look in the mirror, strut down the beach, or just throw on a pair of jeans. All it takes is an understanding of your Motivational Personality, a little behavioral science, and some practice.
Let’s explore how.
Your Kindergarten Teacher Lied To You
When I was growing up, my kindergarten teacher shared the “Golden Rule” with me. I’m sure you’ve heard it somewhere: “Treat others as you want to be treated”. That brilliant concept blew my tiny 6-year-old mind. And for the next 25 years, I thought it was the end-all rule for personal relationships.
But then I turned 31.
I was attending a leadership training seminar and out of left field, the instructor exclaimed:
“The Golden Rule is COMPLETELY wrong.”
‘Blasphemy!’ my kindergarten brain responded. She must have been raised by a pack of wild wolverines; everyone knows the Golden Rule is right. And just as I was about to tune her out, she followed-up with some wisdom that changed my entire life.
“Why is the Golden Rule wrong?” she posed. “Because you should treat others as THEY want to be treated. Not as YOU want to be treated.”
That one little word changes your entire perspective, doesn’t it? It sure did for me.
We’re all different. We all have diverse backgrounds, learning styles, feelings, fears, and hopes. We all want to be treated in our own unique way.
Maybe you’ve been doing it wrong?
You may be sabotaging your chances of finding your 6-pack if you’re applying the logic of the Golden Rule to losing weight,
Let’s say you signed up for the latest fitness fad (cycling, boot camps, 21-day-whatever) thinking you’d get the best results. I mean, all those sexy before-and-after photos must mean it’s how everyone needs to get fit.
The workouts may be too intense.
The schedule may not be flexible enough.
There may be no variety.
It’s a program that’s designed for someone else. In other words, the trainers screwed up the Golden Rule, and they’re not treating you how you want to be treated.
So you quit.
Enter Motivational Personality
This is exactly why we created the Motivational Personality. It’s a personality assessment, but instead of learning which Kardashian you’re most like, it helps you understand your motivational strengths and struggles.
It corrects the Golden Rule by explaining how you want to be treated.
Do you like consistency?
Are you motivated by rewards and recognition?
Do you need occasional breaks to recharge?
Do you rely on self-control?
Remember, we’re all unique. Some people never miss a workout because they’re terrified of looking bad in their spring break bikini. Others start and stop constantly because the world seems to be against them. Still, others have the seemingly superhuman strength of turning down red-velvet, cream cheese cupcakes because they like to flex their self-control.
There are 4 main personalities with a few variations: Disciplined Doer, Laid-Back Learner, Partial Perfectionist, and Self-Controlled Spectator.
Motivational Personalities are rooted in behavioral science and psychology — they have real application. However, science without personality is like a boring college physics lecture. We prefer Bill Nye’s approach.
That’s why each Motivational Personality sports a social-media-worthy avatar (both male and female), an entertaining description, and helpful pointers. They even outline your ‘superpower’. An innate trait that can help you get through almost any weight loss challenge (or speedbump).
Accomplish Your 90%
Let’s wrap up by putting things into perspective. You may have heard some version of the saying:
“Fitness is 90% motivation and 10% training”
Yet, all we seem to do is focus on the latest workout, quick-fix diet, or fitness tracker (does anyone else have a drawer full of Fitbits?) – the 10%.
What if we started focusing 90% of the challenge? MOTIVATION.
If you discovered your Motivational Personality could you find the nutrition, workout, or lifestyle that fits? Could you lose weight and gain the motivation to keep it off for good?
It’s certainly worth a shot.
Because feeling happy in our own skin may just be the best form of motivation there is.
Raise your hand if you only have 10 minutes for a workout.
Yeah, most days feel like that, don’t they?
And while stretching or a quick workout video might fit into those 600 seconds, Cafemom suggests trying something a little different. They recommend training your motivation first.
Because they know motivation is one of the most important factors for moms when it comes to getting fit and feeling great. With it, we can stick to our workouts, get started on a new meal plan, or (hopefully) get out of bed after a sleepless night of crying kids.
You have a few options when it comes to training your motivation:
Hire a psychologist – They can share some incredible knowledge around behavioral science, but may not know much about fitness. Oh, and it’ll set you back up to $200/hr.
Read self-improvement books – There are some powerful books about motivation and the inner workings of our brains. Prices are much more reasonable, ranging from $19-$99. The downside? Finding the time to read each one and then trying to implement the lessons in your life.
Take a course – A great way to get the best of both worlds. Online courses combine the knowledge of a psychologist, the personalization of a coach, and the bite-sized learnings of online training. We’re biased (duh), but Cafemom suggests a training course like GOtivation, Motivated in a Month.
Every minute counts
Whether it’s sneaking in some me-time while the baby naps, or trying to make the most of waiting in the school pick-up line, every minute of the day counts. Fortunately, you don’t need to wait for an elusive uninterrupted hour to start getting fit and healthy. You just need a few minutes, a phone, and the desire to improve.
Why does fitness motivation have to be so elusive?
On Monday, you spent the entire day fantasizing about your 6pm hot-yoga class. Then Tuesday rolls around and going to the gym feels slightly more difficult than getting your kids to stop fighting. By Wednesday you’re back to sweatpants, the couch, and an extra serving of guilt.
Yep. We’ve all been there! So it got me wondering…
Could we stick to our gym routine and eating plans if we understood motivation better?
Could you motivate yourself on those hot-mess kinda days if you had the right motivational skills?
Are these rhetorical questions?
Yes, to all three.
And while there are more examples and psychology at play than we can share today (I’ll share those in future articles), here are some key principles of motivation that will give you the skills to stick with your fitness goals.
Motivation Keeps You Going
Motivation is not exclusively reserved for monumental achievements like climbing Mount Everest. Though one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, Alison Levine, used it to do just that…twice.
The real power of motivation is to repeatedly do small things. Psychologists also have a term for this: “Grit”.
Even Alison shared the same sentiments as she worked through the ‘Death Zone’ of the summit. It’s not just a clever name. This final 3,000 foot ascent on Everest is where your body starts shutting down and death is certain within just two days.
Her approach to staying focused and motivated in this extreme environment?
“Just get to the next rock.”
Take a few steps at a time, accomplish that little goal, then use the satisfaction to do it again. In Alison’s case, that can last up to 16 hours.
Now that’s real grit!
Why does that work? Because little changes add up to big things over time. It’s no different on Everest than it is for your weight loss goals.
When it comes to exercising, starting small pays off (see 2-minute rule by James Clear). It may only take a quick reminder of your ‘Why’ – such as, “I want to be a role model for my kids” – to get you to jog around the block. However, you might need to spend a few months increasing your confidence before you consider going to your first CrossFit class.
Some social media influencers like to claim “motivation gets you started,” but that’s only partially true. The real power of motivation is to help us do small things on a regular basis. It keeps you going.
How You Stay Motivated is Unique
I love Albert Einstein. Brilliant, daring, humble, and an all-time top 10 mustache (just edged out US President, William Taft). However, when I was about to compete against a silver medalist from the 2012 London Olympics, the wisdom of good old Albert wasn’t working for me. I needed something relatable to my situation. Darrell Pace, Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt, Aly Raisman, Billy Mills. Courageous, inspiring, Olympic athletes.
Because motivation is unique. It’s based on your personal experiences, traits, and a lot of psychology. What works for you may seem cheesy to half your friends. What inspires your brother may not even garner a second glance in your Facebook feed. (I know this is the case when some GOtivation Instagram Posts get a whopping 2 ½ likes).
In fact, one of our surveys found that 40% of respondents feel motivation is “too general”, “cheesy”, or “hard to find what’s relevant”.
So how do you get better at figuring out how what motivates you?
In this outstanding article by Preston Ni (Psychology Today), there are a number of ways to discover what motivates you. One of my personal favorites of his is “Read or Watch Biographies of Inspiring, Creative People”. If you’re more the podcast type, you could even listen to my nerdy chat about what motivates you on the Alpha Hippie Podcast.
Another way? In our training course Motivated in a Month, we worked tirelessly with psychologists and personal trainers to create your Motivational Personality. It’s a helpful personality survey that identifies what does (and does not) motivate you.
Remember, if motivation is not personal, it won’t help you stick to a diet or go to the gym. That’s why finding what motivates you is one of the most important first steps you should take.
Staying Motivated Takes Practice (and recharging)
“A mighty flame followeth a tiny spark” ~Dante Alighieri
“That’s great, as long as you don’t mind burning down when it’s over” ~me
We’ve all heard it: ‘A spark of imagination! Motivation lights a fire! Just need someone to motivate me!’ So, what happens when that spark runs out? We become one of 67% of people that never use their gym membership. We throw in the towel on our fad ‘detox’ diets and go back to the comfortable confines of the couch.
This may be the most important part of motivation: We need to practice it regularly. Let me explain it another way:
Motivation is not a bolt of lightning – it’s a battery
What do you do when your phone battery at 3%?
Do you just toss the $900 iPhone in the trash and give up?
You recharge it and get going again.
It’s the same when you find yourself running low on energy and motivation. Which happens to be totally normal when you’re balancing a job, family, kids, and a dozen other responsibilities.
However, instead of finding the nearest USB plug, here’s what you can do to strengthen your motivation:
Learn what motivates you. Not sure how? Take a short course like Motivated in a Month to discover what works best for you.
Practice your motivational skills. Find yourself canceling gym plans at the last minute? Practice what you’ll say (or do) next time it’s about to happen.
Try out your new skills. Reading a self-help book is great. But to truly stay recharged, you’ll need to be brave and use those skills in real life.
Those are just a few ideas. Whatever you decide to do, keep your motivation battery regularly charged!
If we start to think about motivation in a slightly different light, I believe we all can stay motived to get fit and stay healthier.
Three things to remember:
Motivation + small, repeated change = powerful
We’re all motivated in a unique way
Learn how to recharge your motivational battery regularly
Written by: Dennis Timpanaro
Dennis radiates motivation. An entrepreneur & world-ranked athlete, he founded GOtivation to help busy adults stay motivated and fit for a lifetime.