How To Build True Motivation That Lasts Forever (Even If You "Don't Feel Like It")

The question I get asked the most is “How do you stay motivated to work out?”

Most people, and this might include you, think that motivation is the key to keeping going and achieving results – and this is true.

However, there’s a big misunderstanding about what motivation truly is:

Most think that motivation is a feeling.

A feeling of being hyped up, excited, and ready to go.

The reality however is that this feeling - like any feeling - is only temporary.

Here’s some harsh truth:

If you rely on feelings, you’ll never get shit done consistently.

Most of my mornings, I don’t “feel” like getting up and would rather stay warm and comfortable under the blanket.

And honestly, despite lifting weights for 11 years, there’s been few sessions in which I’ve been “feeling” like doing Squats.

So if it’s not a feeling that gets you going, what is it?

There’s a different kind of motivation – intrinsic motivation - that goes deeper and is vital for you to create what you want, independently of how you feel in the moment.

If you don’t learn how to utilize it, getting yourself to do what you need to do for your goal will always be a frustrating chore.

In this newsletter, you will learn what true, intrinsic motivation is and how to develop it.

The secret to intrinsic motivation

Let me ask you this: When do you “feel motivated” the most?

It’s usually after you’ve done something difficult and uncomfortable.

If you’re like most, you feel more motivated after you’ve done your workout than before!

The feeling of motivation is a reward, so you can’t rely on it.

So if true motivation isn’t a feeling, what is it?

Intrinsic motivation is about your values.

Values, to keep it simple, are what is important to you.

When you try to create something new, you usually focus on goals and habits.

And while this is great – you do need a goal to get anywhere and your habits create it – there’s a major flaw in that strategy:

It doesn’t address the big driver of habits – your values and your identity (which is how you perceive yourself).

To develop intrinsic motivation, you need to get clear on your values and align them with your goals.

If you struggle to stay focused on a goal, take consistent action, and always have to push like crazy to make a move, you haven’t done that yet.

Why would this be a challenge in the first place?

It should be easy for you to tell what is important to you, right?

The problem is that your values are mostly subconscious.

Let me ask you this:

Do you go through your daily life and ever ask yourself “What are my highest values?”

Probably not, right?

In fact, you may have never heard about this concept before you read this newsletter. 

Fortunately, it is easy to get a glimpse of your top values.

Remember: your values drive your habits!

Simply look at your life and what you do regularly.

Look at what you do no matter what, even if it’s hard.

These behaviors will show you your top values:

  • If you work on your business every day, even if you’re exhausted, your top values might be success or wealth.

  • If you work out five times per week, even if you get home late at night tired, your top values might be athleticism or health.

  • If you eat chocolate every day, even though you try to lose weight because health is important to you, enjoyment is probably one of your top values.

The last example shows where this gets tricky because it hints at two conflicting values:

If you fear that doing what’s necessary to lose weight will take away your enjoyment, you will resent the process and either not take action at all, struggle to “stay motivated”, or bounce back to your old patterns at some point.

That’s one of the reasons why 92% of those who do a restrictive diet will regain all the weight they’ve lost.

If you want to achieve lasting results, you need to resolve this conflict.

How to resolve conflicting values

Let’s give you another example: 

If you’re an online entrepreneur, you probably value freedom.

To build a business, you need structure.

Freedom and structure might be conflicting to you, depending on what they mean to you.

This causes internal friction and many online entrepreneurs won’t establish structures because they’re afraid that it will take away the freedom they desire.

As a result, you may never build a business that would GIVE you freedom in the first place.

Until you resolve this conflict, it will be an uphill battle to show up daily and do what you have to build your business.

How do you do that?

Look how structure can give you more freedom:

  • Structured workflows free you of energy needed for daily decisions

  • Structured and automated processes free you of administrative work

  • Structured sales flows provide you with sustainable and recurring revenue that frees you of worry and anxiety

You can do the same for weight loss, health, and enjoyment: 

How would being lean allow you to enjoy life more?

  • Enjoying higher well-being and less stress 

  • Enjoying food at restaurants, without feeling guilty

  • Enjoying work-free evenings because of your higher energy and productivity

If you manage to align your goals with your values, motivation will no longer be a problem.

You will show up and do the work no matter how you feel because you intrinsically know that it’s important to you.

In the last section, we will go through a framework that you can implement right now, to build intrinsic motivation that lasts – no matter how you feel.

How to build intrinsic motivation that lasts forever

Use this framework every time you struggle to stay motivated:

1 – Get clear on your top values

The simplest way to get clear about your top values is to look at your life and what you do consistently, no matter what.

Ask yourself: What values are driving these behaviors?

These are your top values.

2 – Identify and resolve value conflicts

If you have a clear goal, and know its importance, but struggle with motivation, there’s a conflict between your highest values and the values that would create your goal.

Look at the values you need for this goal:

Is there anything that is conflicting with your top values?

If so, how can you resolve that?

Look at the examples before, like enjoyment and health or freedom and structure:

Can you find ways in which structure would give you more freedom, or how eating healthy would you give more enjoyment?

3 – Get clear on why the goal, or new behavior, is important to you

Write down as many reasons as you can why working on your goal will fulfill your highest values.

This will help you link your desired habit even further to your top values.

According to human behavior specialist Dr. John Demartini, you may need up to 20 or even 100 reasons why it’s important to you.

As a result, you build even more intrinsic motivation.

4 – Remind yourself of your values when it gets tough

You will have days where you don’t feel like showing up and doing the work.

That’s normal.

Remind yourself what you are really doing the work for.

If your family is your highest value and you want to lose weight, remind yourself about how losing weight and getting healthier will benefit your family.

Showing up will be easy if you have enough value linked to your goal, which is why the previous steps are so important.

5 – Act

None of this matters if you don’t act on it.

Acting reinforces your adjusted values, which, as a result, makes it easier for you to take action.

Momentum is more important than feeling and acting, even though you “don’t feel like it”, will put you into an upward spiral.

That’s it for this newsletter on how to build long-lasting, intrinsic motivation!

Did you enjoy this article and want to go deeper?

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See you next time,