Happy New Year!
We’re trying something new here, so if you want to listen to a recording of this newsletter, click here. And now…
Let’s skip the resolutions talk.
In fact, let’s skip most of the standard advice around goals and resolutions. If we want to get down to the nitty-gritty of change, we have to understand where it comes from.
I think that there are really just two questions to ask:
- Do you have great clarity on what you want?
- Do you know how to get there?
Simple right? But there’s a big caveat with the knowledge thing.
Do you know how to get there WITHOUT relying on high motivation? That’s the litmus test.
Motivation will sometimes say that it’s going to buy a pack of cigarettes and then *poof* You don’t need that kind of motivation in your life. You deserve better than that, dammit!
I’ve written many times about how motivation is unreliable and probably also cheats at cards. But I also haven’t told you the whole truth. Most types of motivation are unreliable. However, there’s one type that is solid as a rock. Marriage material. The real trick is to find it and harness it. That’s your best bet for reliable workouts…Getting fit… Simply feeling good. That’s ultimately our goal here.
Many business folks will be familiar with Daniel Pink’s book, Drive. Here, Pink refers to research around motivation in a work environment. Financial incentives don’t do much beyond a certain amount. The ole carrot and stick approach is also very limited. Instead, Pink makes a cogent—and well-sourced—argument for deeper meaning.
Pink sourced his ideas from the research of Richard Ryan and Ed Deci. Since the 70s, these two have created the clearest vocabulary and ideas around motivation—particularly intrinsic motivation. This is where we’re going.
Let’s shift gears for a moment here. If you—or anyone you know is currently experiencing low motivation around fitness, it’s worth understanding why. We need to deconstruct what’s not working for you so that we can build a roadmap toward what actually will. This is, of course, assuming that you want to.
Extrinsic motivation depends on… Well, stuff outside of yourself. Stuff that can be partially or completely beyond your control. I think we have all learned to deal with those things in our own way over the last several months.
I’ll also mention that If the following bums you out, just know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel here.
Some perfectly good (but not completely controllable) extrinsic motivators for exercise
- Approval of others (e.g. performance or aesthetic criteria)
- Social components
- Doctor’s orders to improve your bloodwork… Or else!
(This is a great example of a hybrid of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation)
Some additional friction points (demotivators) when working from home
- Colleague’s high expectations around your accessibility
- Your high expectations around your accessibility (these can exist even when the above do not)
- Limited space or equipment options
- Your boss is a jerk (particularly if you work for yourself)
- Too much decision-making or uncertainty around workout options and, of course
- Feeling like things are out of your control
- Pain or apprehension around movement
You can see how the above challenges stack up to create some real barriers to working out from home. Especially if our motivations have been traditionally grounded in the extrinsic.
By the way, wanting to look good in your underwear does not make you a callow monster. I don’t know any humans who don’t want to feel good about their appearance.
Let’s swing back to intrinsic motivation
Deci and Ryan ultimately developed a framework called Self-Determination Theory to discuss motivation in clear terms. They describe a self-determined person as someone who:
- Believes they are in control of their own life
- Takes responsibility for their own behaviour—owning successes and failures
- Is self-motivated instead of driven by outside forces or standards
- Determines their actions based on their own internal values and goals
Those last two points are key for our understanding of intrinsically-motivated health behaviours. They have to tune into our deepest values. This is where the rubber meets the road. It’s what differentiates the nice-to have from the must-have.
Intrinsic motivation may not always rev as high as other forms but it is reliable. Intrinsic motivation is like geothermal energy. It’s always there. Winter or summer. Night or day. Regardless of your professional or personal status. The only real challenge is to tap it.
Let’s bring it back to clarity
What is deeply important to you when it comes to health and fitness?
Some deeper whys that people have shared with me over the years:
- “My father really began to decline mentally when he could no longer walk. I want to stay physically capable for as long as I can.”
- “I feel most at peace when I am in nature. It’s important that I can hike and climb and explore.”
- “I need to be able to keep up with my kids… And to set an example for them.”
My big why
2020 exerted a forcing function for me to take stock of my mental health. I did a lot of personal work. And part of that work was rediscovering why I found my way into this industry in the first place. I mean… There had better be a bloody good reason. And there is. The first domino in this whole chain was my realization of the importance of daily movement to my mental wellbeing. That’s my why. Embracing that has been a lifesaver.
One final piece of motivation
Motivation can be bolstered by progress. It’s nice to know that you’re on the right track… That your daily actions are taking you somewhere. But if aesthetic or performance goals are limited, what else can we look? To our minds.
Our why for 2021—and probably forever
Bringing your best self forward every single day requires some extra work. So, instead of waiting for better circumstances, we’re focusing on exercise and movement-based frameworks to improve focus and elevate mood. Your booty gains have not been forgotten but your brain gains are at the top of the hierarchy. This has been integrated into our approach for years but we’ve never explicitly built a framework around it. I think that people are finally ready.
If you are currently training with us—sign up!
We’ll be opening up a beta-testing group on exercise for cognitive and emotional health this month first. Want in, you early adopter!? Just let us know.
If you want in when we release this publicly:
Email me at geoff to the izat to the bangfitness.com
Wishing you much happiness in 2021
Happy New Year. From all of us at Bang!