If you are reading this now, I know you have enough wisdom to do as Stephen Covey suggests in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989), “Begin with the end in mind”. The documentation is conclusive: almost all forms of exercise and exercise routines work and they also fail. The difference between success and failure is always found at the level of motivation. So, before you slip on those Nikes, new gym outfit, buy a gym membership or an exercise machine, you should take some time to condition your motivation muscle.
Basics of Human Motivation
Anthony Robbins in his classic Personal Power II: the Driving Force! (1996) stated that people are motivated by only two things: (1) the desire to gain pleasure and (2) the need to avoid pain. Think for a moment if there is anything else that motivates human behavior. Once you accept this pain/pleasure theory of motivation, you are ready to learn how to use these principles to your advantage not just in exercise, but in all parts of your life.
You have had the thought of improving your life through exercise as evidenced by the fact that you are currently reading this article. You have the insight to understand that the success of your exercise program will be predicated on your level of motivation, but you do have the impetus to sustain the results you want? Sadly, historical evidence would indicate that you probably don’t.
Gym business models are based on the 80/20 principle. Only 20 percent of the people that sign a contract actually use the gym on a regular basis. The cold, hard mathematics of business demonstrate that a gym can only accommodate 20 percent usage. Fortunately for gym owners, a much lower level of motivation is required to buy a membership than to use it. You can find more about this principle by reading Richard Koch’s 80/20 Principle (1998). This law is even more dramatic with regard to buying home gyms. If you don’t believe the veracity of that statement, take a moment to peruse Craigslist or scan your local want ad publication to see how many barely used home gyms are for sale at a fraction of their original price. These facts should not depress you, but impress upon you the importance of the next section.
The motivation formula:
Thoughts grow in the fertile soil of your imagination by using end results imagery. A.M. Krasner in his book The Wizard Within (1991) explains end results imagery as the process by which your mind links massive amounts of pleasure to obtaining your goals and massive amounts of pain to failure to obtain them. Take out a pen and some paper and write all the pleasure you will receive when you achieve your goals. Ask yourself the following questions. How will I feel? How will I look? How will other people see me? Imagine your sex life once you are your ideal weight with your brand new fit body. Write in as much detail as possible, add emotion and really visualize yourself as you want to be. Create a vision and daily hold it in your mind’s eye.
Faith is knowing that you absolutely will achieve your desires and it is built in small increments. When you start to work out, you will begin to achieve small goals. Perhaps, you will lift 5 more pounds than last week, or lose an additional pound this week. You know since you accomplished these objectives this week, you can be successful next week and the week after until you reach your ultimate goal. Here are some very powerful tools for building faith:
- use of affirmations
- self hypnosis
- the power of questions
- the power of pretend
Such noted writers as Norman Vincent Peal, Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie have much to say about building faith through affirmations, the power of questions and the power of pretend. Dr. Rachel Copeland’s book How to Hypnotize Yourself and Others (1976) will give you all the information you need to begin to use self-hypnosis effectively.
The mixture of imagination and faith creates desire. Desire is the strongest of thoughts and is absolutely essential to maintaining a successful workout program over time. A desire is so vivid and compelling that you absolutely know that it must come to pass. A desire is charged with emotion and it is an unstoppable force. My belief is that you will use the information given as a starting point to create the results you have dared to dream.