I have a saying that works for me when it comes to motivation:
Be merciless with yourself.
It sounds like a harsh concept. After all, we spend our formative years being told to love ourselves, that we're perfect just the way we are. We go to great lengths to avoid the kind of self-criticism that can lead to all kinds of disorders.
Yet for me it works. It works because I start from a position of self-confidence. I know I have nothing to prove to anyone else, and that regardless of my physical activity level I'm loved by those who matter most.
But I also learned (thanks to my study of music) that you never get better by practicing what you're already good at. So for me, when it comes to reaching my goals, I practice what I consider to be a healthy level of mercilessness.
I make myself accountable to myself, and yes, I beat myself up a little. If I disappoint myself in the process, too bad.
And I can do this because I don't set unachievable goals. If the goals are within reach and I don't achieve them, it's really only my own laziness to blame.
I don't recommend this practice for everyone. If you're less than confident to begin with, you could make yourself truly depressed. And I wouldn't want that. I'd prefer you feel proud that you did something today that moves you toward your goals.
Case In Point
For some reason I hardly slept at all Monday night. Tuesday I had a meeting an hour away. Tuesday is also garbage day, and happened to be picture day at school.
It was also leg day.
Something had to give in this scenario, and unfortunately it was the workout. There was just no way, in my state of exhaustion, I would be able to do a good workout and still have time to get everything else taken care of.
So where's the lack of mercy? Well, funny story...
When I'm overtired, as I was heading to bed last night, I tend not to sleep well. So guess who woke up at 3:30 this morning.
So what did I do? Well, at first I tried to get back to sleep, but that was a bust. Instead I used the time as a gift. I watched a webinar replay I'd missed from the day before. Then I got up at 4, took my pre-workout, and banged out my leg day at 4:30.
That, folks, is merciless.
Now, as to why I did that, it's pretty simple. Wednesday is set up for back, and Thursday for core. Legs, however, are extremely metabolically active. If you have one set you should do, it's legs.
My plan is to double up a workout day. But my weakness has always been grip. So rather than do squats today then try to do pull ups, I know I'm better doing those with the core stuff tomorrow. Core exercises don't use a lot of grip so I won't be lacking power for the extra weights.
In any case, I have to say being done before I would normally wake up takes a certain amount of gutting it out. But the important thing is that it got done. I could have spent the morning in bed.
Instead, I beat myself up, hauled my ass out, and got something done. And that's the key. Being merciless doesn’t mean being mean. It doesn't mean being degrading or self-deprecating. It means being forceful and determined, and not allowing yourself to sit comfortably and make excuses.
Because change doesn't happen while you're lying there thinking about it. It happens when you get up and command it to happen.