Ask Men’s Fitness: “One day I didn’t feel like hitting the gym, and a friend said, ‘Hey—motivation follows action.’ Was he just, you know, blowing smoke?”
Nope, he’s dead right, and it’s something peak-performance athletes know well. Because, let’s face it: It’s great when you feel motivated in advance, but that’s not always the case.
“Feeling motivated to work out is a fleeting and unreliable behavioral trigger,” says Bill Cole, a sports mind coach who’s worked with pro athletes. “Current feelings don’t mean much in the larger picture.” Once you realize this, you can bypass the “I’m just not into doing it” stage and make the smart decision, confident that once you’ve acted, the motivation will come.
Even if you aim to do only 10 minutes of stretching, says Cole, who’s also founder of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, the endorphins will kick in, and you might just end up doing a full-blown workout. “Action gives traction,” he explains, so once you realize, Hey, this isn’t so bad, and start enjoying it, “flow” will kick in, your motivation will rev up, and you’ll have defeated your mental demons.
“We all have limited self-discipline, and it can vary daily,” he says. “But this sort of strategy is more powerful than self-discipline any day.”