But when we lose it, it's gone... and it's hard to get back; or at least it feels that way.
To many, the word 'willpower' conjures up thoughts of restraint and white-knuckling your way to your goals.
Avoiding the cookies at work. Trading in your donuts for oatmeal and eggs. Going to the gym and checking off your workout. Decreasing your wine or beer consumption. These are all activities that call on some level of willpower and motivation, and some would see them as not always so pleasant activities.
But what about getting out of bed when your alarm goes off in the morning? When you mop the floors because they're dirty? Or when you go to work from 9-5 every Monday-Friday?
These are also likely seen as not the most fun activities — but you generally do them day in and day out without much discrepancy.
So what's the difference? The difference is the key to lasting willpower.
You wake up to your alarm, go to work, and mop your floors, because a) you have to, but b) because you've build them into your routine and streamlined them. You made the decision once to do these things, and now you just do them. The same process should be made when it comes to your nutrition and fitness goals.
As I mentioned earlier, it's easy to do what you need to do to reach a goal when your motivation and willpower are high. But what about when you've had a long day at work, lackluster sleep, and a stressful week? Saying no to ordering takeout — or yes to the gym or trails — can seem like a much more daunting task.
Since willpower is a finite resource, I simply like to forgo depending on it at all. In fact, my go-to way to get more motivation to workout is to not rely on it!
Instead of relying on how motivated you feel toward a goal — or doing what you're supposed to to achieve it, make it a no-brainer.
How to Get More Motivation to Workout or Get Back On the Trails
Schedule what needs to be done into your calendar, and make it a routine. If you find yourself MIA from your go-to running trail, schedule it into your day, just as you would your job.
Plug it in your calendar as a non-negotiable. Make the decision to do them once, and then add them to your routine, rather than having to make the decision to do them every single day.
Make it as easy on yourself as you can. This takes some preparation and planning ahead of time, but is so worth it when you're making your workouts and trail time, eating nutritious food, and feeling great.
If you find yourself skipping your trail runs, choose a trail that's closest to your home or work, so you can stop on the way.
If you find yourself choosing take out over a home-cooked meal, spend an hour or two on the weekend bulk-cooking some food choices for the week. Or, you can opt to buy pre-chopped veggies or pre-cooked meats and grains.
Take a look at what's depleting your willpower and motivation in your daily life.
What causes you to be fatigued and drained at the end of the day? If it's endless meetings, see which ones you can cut out of your schedule. If it's your commute, try to leave a few minutes earlier to reduce stress, or listen to an audiobook to make it more enjoyable.
It could even be the constant distractions of your phone and social media. When you're working on a project, and are constantly being disrupted by dings and notifications, that can be frustrating — and draining. Turn your notifications off!
Whatever it is, take a good look at what drains your energy stores, and make a change. This extra energy in your day will be much better spent doing something productive toward your fitness and health.
Whether it's building it into your routine, streamlining your routine, or decreasing willpower-depleting activities in your day, accomplishing your fitness and health goals is a whole lot more doable when stop white knuckling it and start making it easier on yourself.