Last week I declared that my mojo was missing. I reported my feelings of laziness and malaise. Exercise has become a chore and eating right a battle. The anxiety monster is lurking just around the corner waiting to pounce on me if I let it. Last week’s goal was to start searching for answers.
Perhaps it’s not mojo I’m looking for?
As a first step, I decided to define a few terms. What even is mojo? Am I using the term correctly? Googling led me to this:
Am I looking for mojo? Or am I looking for enthusiasm? Is it motivation I need or more willpower? Some further search terms lead me to this blog article
Now that sounds like what I’m after!
According to the author, Stephen Guise, you are better off relying on willpower and habit rather than motivation. He defines motivation as a desire to take action, whereas willpower is forcing yourself to take action even if you don’t feel like it. Creating habits is the ultimate goal. When something is a habit you don’t have to make a decision, you just do it because you have built it into your life. I’d recommend the article. It’s long but his writing style is easy, amusing and straight forward. He has a book to sell called Mini Habits.
Guise recommends taking action even when you feel unmotivated. Just get out and do it. This is the same strategy Michelle Bridges uses in her 12 Week Body Transformation Program. (12WBT)
Her motto is JFDI (just f*^%#$ do it!)
Just get out of bed. Don’t think about it! Just put your workout gear on, don’t think about it. Once you start, you’ll keep going.
I have signed up for the 12WBT three times in the past, and every time it has worked well for me. I’ve gotten fitter and stronger. At the conclusion of the 12-week program, I have felt empowered, healthy and proud.
Why does this style of program work so well for me and others? It boils down to a few simple factors:
- The program isn’t free. The fact that I’ve paid for it is a huge part of its success for me. The idea of wasting money if I don’t stick to it is an important external motivator.
- It’s for a well defined period of time. Long enough to see results, short enough to maintain interest.
- It is measurable. There are some very carefully planned milestones that involve actual measuring including a weekly weigh-in and a monthly fitness test. On top of that, you take your body measurements every four weeks.
- The program asks you to set mini-milestones and a final goal. For my last round, these goals were timed running events and culminated in a final event where I aimed to crack the 56-minute mark. (missed by 5 seconds!)
- There is a supportive online and IRL* community attached. I didn’t join in on this aspect much but it was there if I wanted it.
That list sounds very familiar and a lot like SMART goals. That is goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Make a start – even if its small
While SMART goals are a tried and true strategy for many people, Guise suggests another option. Using brute force! In a strategy, he calls ‘taking stupid small steps” he suggests you take a very small action which you repeat over and over again until it ‘turns into a powerful, healthy habit.’
The idea is to force yourself to do one push up (or another similarly very small step), then do another and then another and before you know it you’ve done a workout. Guise says that harnessing the power of stupid small steps will increase your willpower, stamina, build momentum, lead to action rather than just thinking about taking action and finally bring a greater level of consistency.
Here’s a good summary of the idea.
What’s next in the mojo hunt.
My Year of Zero precludes me from signing up for another round of 12WBT so I am just going to wing it on my own with a very strong mini habits flavour thrown in. I’ll set some milestones, do some measurements and give myself 12 weeks to whip myself back into shape. I have a 5 km race booked in for December. Maybe I can get down to 25 minutes. (My previous best time is 26 minutes)
Yep, that’s what I’m gonna do…Starting next week…I really really mean it this time!
Next week’s post: I know I’m not alone in this potentially COVID induced funk. Next week I’ll examine the possibility of this lack of motivation being a bigger shared problem.
* IRL = In real life