Why motivation is hurting your progress

When people ask me ‘how do you stay motivated?’ It tell them ‘I don’t!’

When they ask me ‘how do you build motivation?’ I tell them ‘you don’t!’

I might sound like I’m unenthused or pessimistic but I can assure you I’m not.

I say this to help people understand that motivation is actually hindering them.

I’ll explain.

When your workouts are a war.

Your mindfulness exercises a fight.

Your imposed bedtimes a battle.

And your healthy food choices a struggle.

It doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you.

If you’re under some impression that you should be motivated to do these things and this inner conflict is something unique to you…

…you’re wrong!

You’re are no different to anyone else. Everyone has the ‘Monkey’ in their head.

The Monkey’s job is to convince you to not do what you should be doing. And he’ll propose doing something easier, more exciting instead.

When this Monkey is absent, taking a bit of R&R. Recharging his batteries, before returning to once again stop you pursuing your goals…

…is when you’ll experience bouts of productivity and action. (You’re free from the Monkey’s powerful persuasion to Netflix and Chill.)

But when he’s back, that’s when the battle arises.

And right now it’s not a competition…

…he’s winning every time!

The Monkey is too strong and persuasive. He knows every trick in the book to stop you taking action towards your goal.

And exactly which buttons to press to re route you away from your dream.

He’s louder, stronger and his option is way more compelling.

And this is my problem with Motivation

It isn’t a compelling drive…

…it’s an absence of The Monkey.

And it’s how you’re currently operating.

Long periods of inactivity, interspliced with spurts of effort. (When the Monkey is taking annual leave (he doesn’t take much, he’s very dedicated to his job!)).

This is why motivation is not something to rely on!

People that are consistent with taking action know this.

Instead they rely on a routine. And over time they’ve strengthened their discipline to adhere to their routine.

To a point where they can overpower the Monkey every time. And force it into it’s cage (it’s not cruel, it’s a fictional metaphor).

Enabling them to take the action necessary to progress.

They don’t need to wait until their Monkey is away to take action.

And it’s this consistent action that sees them achieve their goal.

So if you need help with achieving confidence and focus to achieve your goals. Through the development of a good habits and routine.

Check out my Program The Disciplined Man

5 steps to achieving your goals

When it comes to achieving your goals consistency is the secret sauce. But it’s an acquired taste.

Here are 5 ways to consistently take action and get what you want.

If you are always setting goals but never achieving them you need to read this!

You’ve been led to believe that you should be motivated. And whoever is the most motivated wins.

It’s bullshit!

The truth is, those that succeed consistently take action regardless of how they feel about doing it.

Motivation may get you started but it’s consistency that will see you finish!

1. Small steps

The theory is simple:

Follow this plan for x amount of weeks and get results.

The reality is hard:

You’re struggling to keep it going for more than a few days.

Start off with the minimum effective dose.

Do the least amount of work that will result in progression.

Once you’re consistent with that amount then you can add more.

2. Acceptance

What you want is on the other side of the things you don’t want to do.

We live in a the digital age where stimulation is only a click away; Nirvana for the monkey brain.

This need for things to be exciting is counter productive.

Get comfortable with doing the uncomfortable/ boring things.

Make peace with the fact that there will be things you dislike doing on a daily basis.

If you imagine that happening 1,000 times in a row all of a sudden it becomes immaterial.

Because it’s expected. You know it’s going to happen every single day. You’re mentally prepared.

3. Your success/failure is found in your routine (or absence of one).

Until you’re consistent you won’t be able to tell is its working or not.

Without a routine you’ll be stuck on a plateau, constantly taking one step forward then one step back.

The greatest routine will feature these habits:

  • Consistent waking time
  • Early morning sunlight
  • Early cardio
  • Nutritious meals
  • Being in nature
  • Walking
  • Weight lifting
  • Journaling
  • A bedtime routine
  • Consistent bedtime

4. Become a Time Lord

Once I replaced:

TV with Online learning.

Radio with Audible.

Netflix with exercise.

The news with writing.

My productivity went to a whole new level.

From making these swaps I improved my wellbeing created more time and made use of dead time.

5. Make it emotive

Make sure you know why you are working towards your goal.

What bigger purpose is your goal a part of?

If it’s important enough then you’ll have an endless reserve of energy that you can tap into when needed.

Reframe your actions as ‘musts’ not ‘shoulds’ i.e. ‘I must do x so I can achieve my goal, which is serving my purpose.’

6. Bonus; Accountability

It’s all too easy to let yourself off the hook!

Be accountable to someone!

The American Society of Training and Development found that if you commit to someone.

And you have regular accountability appointments with that person.

You will increase your chance of success by up to 95%.

How I found my purpose

I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you why I do what I do.

The genesis of becoming a health consultant.

It wasn’t a result of happenstance. It stemmed from an event that occurred in my formative years.

At the time my dad had a senior job in the city which saw him start very early and finish very late.

I didn’t see all that much of him. Some times at the weekend but those periods were fleeting.

This seemed to be the norm for the schooling part of my life.

And over time this high pressure senior role took its toll on him.

His energy levels declined, his stress increased and he was having more doctors appointments.

They were concerned with his health.

Turns out that chronic high stress, zero activity. A diet that resembled a 5 year olds birthday party. And a bullfrogs sleep routine wasn’t all that conducive to a healthy living.

Who knew?!

Reality hit home when the cardiologist said that with without open heart surgery a cardiac event was imminent!

It wasn’t a choice. It was an ultimatum. Surgery or you’ll be shuffling off this mortal coil!

It seemed like only days later he was checked in to hospital.

They opened him up and veins were taken from various other parts of his body and replaced those blocked ones around his heart.

That’s what I was told anyway, this period in my life was a bit blurry.

Although I do remember, very vividly, coming home after school – and finding myself alone a fair bit.

As my mum would be at his bedside at the hospital.

I’d make meals for myself and my mum for when she would return late at night.

It was all a bit surreal. And I didn’t understand the severity of the situation. Not until I went to visit my dad.

I remember it was one of the first times I’d been into the City.

Everything was overwhelming, the amount of people, the buildings the noise and the pace of it all.

Several hours had past in what felt like only a few minutes. And we had reached the station adjacent the hospital.

I remember walking in to the ward and seeing my dad.

I barely recognised him

When I sat down beside him I remember being asked questions by the doctor and nurses.

Light hearted chit chat they’d developed from years of developing a bedside manner.

But I didn’t respond. I could muster any words. My mum had to respond for me. As I was transfixed on my dad.

You know when you feel yourself come out of yourself, in a malaise?! That sort of thing.

I was starring at the person that was lying there in the hospital bed hooked up to the machines, and wiring.

It was almost like he wasn’t a human but part of a machine.

The Doctors and my mum trying to lighten the mood. Regaling me with stories of his projectile vomiting post surgery.

But this didn’t permeate the trance I was in.

I remember feeling numb.

And then I felt anger. Angry that this had happened

That he’d let this happen, that he’d chose this.

It wasn’t an unfortunate set of circumstances or genetics

It was the choices he’d made compounded over time that had culminated in this.

This fucked up situation where I didn’t know if he was coming home or not.

I remember the cessation of our visit and being prompted to say goodbye by my mum. Walking through the hospital wing towards the elevator.

I remember this very clearly. Because that was the defining moment.

It was when I told myself ‘that was not going to happen to me’.

That it was on me to look after myself. I must learn from other peoples mistakes as well as my own.

And my dad was exhibit A.

It felt like this experience had knocked me out of the status quo lifestyle that everyone was living. And into a parallel dimension running alongside it.

An Anthropological dimension. From which I would extrapolate societal norms and collate information.

Whilst doing this I started to realise that it wasn’t just my dad that was in poor health.

It was my friend’s dads too.

And men I was hearing about in the news (back when I used to read/watch it). So many men were struggling.

But no one was talking about the elephant in the room.

Everyone was accepting it as the norm. I suppose when everyone is sick it’s no longer considered a disease.

Fast forward man years from then to today.

I look back at this experience and whilst it was difficult and frustrating at the time.

I was also grateful that I had gone through it.

Because I had found my purpose; to save men from themselves.

To help them develop the discipline they need. To elude the temptations of modern living (which have become the imperceptible demise of men).

It’s this purpose that gets me up in the morning and keeps me going late in the evening.

I’ve become more enthused about efficiency, productivity and lifestyle habits. Because I need the energy to to propel me through the day and work on my mission.

And the beauty of it; the things I do to work on my purpose are self perpetuating. They give me more energy.

Not only that but the job satisfaction I get from.

Helping others to have more energy, and manage their health so they can give 100% to their passion, is incredible.

Knowing they’ve made an important transition in their life and set an important example for the children they’re raising.

Here’s a testimonial from one of my clients, Alex:

Not only has Andy helped my physical health (I’ve managed to lose 10 kg in 3 months), he’s helped my mental health too.

His constant praise, encouragement and holding me accountable for my actions has meant I’m now more motivated and active.

I’ve started writing a book I’ve been wanting to write for ages, and now feel like I have more time and energy to pursue other interests.

I’m even starting to feel better about myself whenever I see a mirror. I’ve even seen some photos of me recently that I haven’t instantly hated 🙂

Given my time again, I would hire Andy in a heartbeat.

How to naturally increase your dopamine levels.

Our hormones have a big impact on our emotional state, causing both good and bad mood patterns.

Regulating your hormones significantly improves and balances your emotional health.

There are a lot of things that you are doing throughout the day that have an affect on your hormones. Without you even realising.

Dopamine is a hormone that has a massive effect on us. It’s the chemical messenger in your brain that creates feelings of pleasure and reward. Which motivates you to repeat a specific behaviour.

And modern day temptations are very effective at giving us cheap dopamine hits. They are designed to elicit this ‘feel good’ sensation. It’s at the crux of their design and marketing.

Junk food, Porn, Social media, Booze, Nicotine. All elicit these cheap dopamine hits. And these temporary feel goods are very effective.

They target your weakness and keep you coming back for more.

Alcohol for confidence.

Nicotine anxiety.

Social media for boredom.

Junk food for lethargy.

Porn for arousal.

These acute ‘feel goods’ are so common yet so dangerous. Because use of these cheap dopamine hits results in;

Excessive binge eating,

Poor relationships,

Chronic stress,

High blood pressure,

and poor health.

These cheap dopamine hits are killing you!

And without without discipline, it can be very hard to turn down these temptations because they are so effective and immediate. They offer instant gratification to a problem.

And when you start to depend on them, it’s harder to rid yourself of them.

So rather than going cold turkey – which is incredibly hard. Replace them with natural things that you natural dopamine hits.

Swapping them, so your brain doesn’t really notice.

Imagine yourself as Indiana Jones, in Raiders of the Lost Ark, in the tomb swapping that Golden Idol for a bag of sand.

(but much easier and without the tomb kicking off and trying to kill you).

Here are some easy ways to do that!

Eat a high protein diet.

Proteins are made up of smaller building blocks called amino acids. One amino acid, called tyrosine, plays a critical role in the production of dopamine!

Probiotics

The gut and brain are closely linked. Certain species of bacteria that live in your gut are also capable of producing dopamine.

Exercise

Exercise can boost dopamine levels in the brain. Improvements in mood can be seen after as little as 10 minutes of activity but tend to be highest after at least 20 minutes.

Quality sleep

After poor sleep the availability of dopamine receptors in their brains is dramatically reduced by the next morning.

Getting regular, high quality sleep helps keep your dopamine levels balanced. And help you feel more alert and high functioning during the day

Music

Listening to music is an enjoyable way to stimulate dopamine release in your brain.

Listening to music increases activity in the reward and pleasure areas of the brain, rich with dopamine receptors.

Sunlight

Periods of low sunshine exposure can lead to reduced levels of mood-boosting neurotransmitters. Including dopamine. Sunlight exposure can increase them.

Start swapping the unnatural for the natural and I promise you’ll start to feel better.

How to set a fitness goal

Many people get this wrong. So I’m going to share with you some tips with regards setting fitness goals. That will ensure that you stay on track to achieve your goals.

Every sporting event/physical pursuit I have undertaken, be it a marathons, power lifting, bodybuilding, open swimming or this year mountaineering.

I know it is going to be a challenge.

When I book it in there is always an element of doubt, a fear of failure.

The knowing that I’m going to be bad at it to start off with.

And that’s the reason I do it.

You see I’m not expecting it to be easy.

I’m expecting it to be hard.

But I know that having this event this will put a little bit of pressure on myself.

I know I have a deadline to work towards.

I know this will up the ante with my training and preparation.

That it will give me focus and clarity. I’ll be applying my efforts intentionally, specifically towards a task.

And that’s when I’m at my happiest. When I’m working on something, building something.

It could be my fitness, my business, relationships.

And in the pursuit of said thing and seeing improvement along the way is my Nirvana.

How to stay consistent with exercise and diet.

This is the most common problem I encounter. ‘How can I stay consistent’ along with ‘how do I stay motivated?’.

It’s not that you don’t have the energy.

It’s that you don’t have the clarity!

It’s vital to have clarity with what you’re working towards. Because it’s going to be stressful if you are arbitrarily doing it, knowing it’s not for you or wishing you were doing something else.

Give yourself something to work towards. An event, a reason for your training. A carrot at the end of the stick!

BTW, this is on top of knowing your why. As I’ve mentioned before it’s important to know your why, your core driver. The underlying motivation (mine being my children and setting an example for them).

And I implore you to find your why for getting fitter, stronger healthier and happier.

Once you know that the next step is to direct it.

Meaningless exercise or dieting, things that you don’t enjoy will seldom last.

But if you put in place something to work towards that will give you focus and clarity. Then you’ll find the work easier.

Having a goal in place, or a milestone (whatever sporting pursuit/activity it is) is super powerful.

It will give you focus plus an all important deadline. Without a deadline you’ll never push yourself to execute said task.

Every year I’ve put in place a pursuit/event. A marathon. A weight lifting comp. A bodybuilding competition. A mountaineering expedition.

This gives me direction and clarity. This means my training never seems Sisyphean. Because I know that I’m working towards something.

Once you know your why and you give yourself a goal. You’ll have that clarity.

Then you’ll be unstoppable.

How to get fitter.

One of the most important books I’ve read is Atomic Habits by James Clear.

It cemented the benefits of having a daily routine. And how important our habits are.

For example, so many people say things like:

“I want to have more money”, “I want to lose weight” or “gain some kind of result.”

The truth is your bank account is a lagging measure of your finnacial habits.

Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating habits.

Your fitness is a lagging measure of your exercise habits.

Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning and reading habits.

And we get it wrong when we think the thing that needs to change is the bank account, the test score or the number on the scale.

Actually the things that need to change are the habits that proceed those outcomes.

You come to realise that your habits reinforce a particular identity.

Sometimes this can be positive and sometimes it can be negative.

The story could be things like ‘Im bad at math’ or ‘I’m terrible with people’s names’. It’s an internal story that you tell yourself.

And each time you have an experience it reinforces that. The story gets solidified.

The takeaway here is that every action you take is a vote for the type of person you become.

And if you can master the right actions, if you can master the right habits

Then you start to cast votes for this new identity, the desired person you want to become.

This is why small habits matter so much, they don’t transform your life overnight.

One workout or healthy meal does not transform your body. But it does cast a vote for being the type of person who doesn’t miss workouts and eats healthy.

Over time these votes compound. And as Einstein said:

‘Compounding is the eighth wonder of the world.’

The goal is not to run a race or complete a sporting pursuit. The goal is to become an athlete.

Once you’ve adopted that identity, you’re not looking to change anymore.

You’re merely acting in alignment with the type of person you see yourself as.

True behaviour change is identity change.

Once you change that internal story it get’s easier to show up each day.

Motivation becomes irrelevant.

It’s just who you are.

How to build motivation

When I talk to people about High Performance, sometimes the word “motivation” comes up.

“I’ve tried all kinds of diets and fitness regimens,” they might say.

Shortly followed by “but I can never seem to keep up the motivation.”

The reality is High Performance has nothing to do with motivation. It’s definitely not the magic key that unlocks your potential. As so many online gurus would have you believe.

High Performance is formed from the process of building habits. Specific actions in your daily routine linked to your goals.

It’s about pursuing your potential for yourself and those that matter most.

It requires a plan, a roadmap, that sees you fine tune your actions. It’s not something you do overnight.

Think about what athletes do (some I’ve coached). They follow a specialized training program. Designed to improve their physical, psychological, technical skill set.

They support their training with habits such as getting restful and restorative sleep. They eat nutritious foods, build mental resilience through mindfulness, and foster supportive relationships.

Notice that motivation wasn’t mentioned once.

That’s because motivation is unreliable. And if you rely on it you are going to be inconsistent with your actions.

Long-term success is built upon small daily actions that move the you closer to your goal.

Modern neuroscience even demonstrates that from these small progressions you’ll be internally rewarded. Through a built-in neurochemical mechanism.

You don’t need superhuman motivation to elevate your performance (because it doesn’t exist).

The process isn’t reserved for gold medallists or billionaire entrepreneurs. All you need is a desire to pursue your potential.

If that’s something you’re interested in click here.

A question for change

You might want to achieve a certain dream…

…but you can’t seem to take action on it.

For example you want to write a book…

Or climb a mountain…

Or start a new business…

Or get in shape…

You want it and dream about making it happen.

But when it comes to taking action you hit a brick wall.

Yot can’t seem to get started.

Or, if you do start, you give up on things pretty quickly when you meet a challenge.

In this case – what do you do?

Well here’s one question you can ask yourself…

“What will I miss out on if I never achieve that goal/dream?”

And when you come up with the answers…

ask yourself ‘What else will I miss out on if I never achieve that goal/dream?’

Keep asking until you can no longer think of anything.

This questioning process helps to uncover the real reasons you want to achieve the goal in the first place.

It makes you more aware of what’s driving them…

…and you’ll start to associate pain with not taking action.

Because you’ll see clearly for the first time, what it’s costing you to stay where you are.

This question grounds you in the present and helps you to experience emotionally what it would feel like to not achieve your goal.

Whereas usually you’re are only focused on the future and how it would feel to achieve that goal…

…this question helps you to experience emotional pain in the present. By seeing what things will look like up ahead if you don’t take action.

And that’s motivating!

You might come to realise you don’t want to miss out on any of those things!

You then associate pain with not changing. Which is what’s often needed to change.