Why Motivation Might Be Killing Your Progress

Author Cody Wright
Why Motivation Might Be Killing Your Progress

What if I told you that motivation is actually what's holding you back?

So many people go on and on about motivation. Heck, there is an entire industry surrounding it that people collectively pay millions of millions of dollars each year hiring and listening to motivational speakers. Don't get me wrong, there are so many brilliant people such as Eric Thomas, Les Brown, or Tony Robbins that have helped push people to step out of their comfort zone and achieve their dreams, but at the foundation of their success it isn't motivation. It's something much less esoteric; this foundation is consistency.

Motivation will ebb and flow throughout the day, let alone week by week; so why would we base our productivity on something so volatile? Sure, it can be a powerful tool, but it shouldn't be the driving factor behind trying to achieve success.

Creating consistency

Consistency can be defined as the continuous conformity to a specific value, task, or belief free from variation or contradiction. Applying this to achieving our goals can be simple in theory, but is bound to be harder in reality.

In practicality, consistency is a rigid, unwavering execution of the tasks at hand that will help you reach your goals.

Focus on the task

In today's day and age there are so many distractions in our lives, making it very easy to stray away from what we need to do and shift our focus to wasting time on pointless things. Aimlessly scrolling through social media, or staying up too late for no reason are things we can all be guilty of from time to time, but it can have a bigger effect on productivity than you might notice at first glance.

Learning to minimize your focus on distractions while working on a project or task will not only create a better product or workout; it will also cut down time required and free up that time for other things.

Habit forming

Our habits define us, be it professionally or personally. Forming positive habits will be one of the most valuable assets we have towards reaching our goals, while bad habits can do just the opposite. Habits are very powerful; they are also very difficult to make or to break. When you can control your habits -- both the good and the bad -- you can use them to form the person you want to be.

However, it is easier said than done to gain control over your habits. There are people who go their entire lives without thinking about creating the habits they need to succeed, or breaking the habits that are holding them back. There is no shortcut to mastering control over your habits; it's something that must be earned through hard work and discipline. The one principle that will give you a greater chance for success though, is the foundation of this article: consistency.

Making healthy habits that last

Think of your current daily ritual. It likely consists at a minimum of brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and putting on clothes. These are all things that you don't naturally just do when you're born, they are learned. Yes, those are very basic things that you would likely find ridicule over if you didn't do, but it doesn't make them anything more than a formed habit. Healthy habits are tough to form, but they're well worth the effort most of the time. Whether the habit you want to create is eating healthy, regularly working out or running, reading every day, or staying up to date with what's new in your industry, positive habits can lead you to a happier, healthier, and productive life. Unfortunately, the work required to create those habits will likely be disruptive to your existing routine, making the whole process tougher than it really should be.

A good strategy is to start small and work up. An example of this would be to not drink alcohol during the week, and limit it to a drink or two on the weekend rather than cutting out all alcohol. Another would be to start eating a healthy meal for breakfast and lunch, but giving yourself dinner to eat a little less healthy. Once you have gotten used to the new change, you can further your current habits, dig deeper into adding in other areas, or add a list to complete a certain number of items each day.

Daily task list

Creating a task list with 5-6 items that are most important to you will help keep you focused, increase your chance of success, and keep you honest about your productivity. The goal of this list is to complete 4-5 items from the list each day. If you ever fail to do enough items on your list for the day, it doesn't mean you double up the next day, though. Stay the course and in time it will become natural.

An example of this could be:

  • 45-min workout
  • Meal prep for the day
  • Drink water only
  • 1 chapter from a book
  • 30-min run

Breaking bad habits for good

Breaking bad habits can be done using the same process we described for forming good habits. If you have a habit of eating a late night snack every night or aimlessly scrolling through social media, the first thing you're going to want to do is break the frequency into a specified amount. For some people, quitting cold turkey is what works best for them. For most people, weaning off will be the most sustainable option though, by reducing the frequency or intensity of the habit over time.

When you first start on your bad habit-breaking endeavor, you're going to follow your plan as closely and consistently as possible. If you follow this plan it will soon become automatic, but if you catch yourself slipping up you'll find that you take it as more of a suggestion rather than a change in lifestyle.

Another useful strategy when breaking a habit is to have a new positive habit take its place. As you reduce the effect of your bad habits, you can gradually add in a new, positive habit. An example of this is replacing the time spent aimlessly browsing social media could be replaced with reading a book you've wanted to read or learning about an interesting topic you've been thinking about.

It isn't an easy process to make and break habits, but it doesn't have to be complex either. Understanding that consistency is the key to success in anything will give your journey a deeper purpose and will create a routine which will drive you to push through on the hard days where motivation is no where to be found.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions

Current Split

Monday

- Chest/Shoulders/Triceps + Easy Run

Tuesday

- Back/Biceps + Fartlek run

Wednesday

- Legs + Recovery Run

Thursday

- Chest/Shoulders/Triceps + Tempo Run

Friday

- Back/Biceps + Easy run

Saturday

- Legs

Sunday

- Long Run

Training 101

PERIODIZATION - The specific structure of training over time.

PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD - The gradual increase of stress placed upon the body throughout the training cycle. This means increasing the overall load lifted during a workout. ie. more weight at same reps, more reps at same weight, or more reps and more weight during the span of the training cycle.

TEMPO - The speed at which the lift occurs. 

ROM - Range of motion.

RPE - Rate of perceived exertion. A measure of how difficult a set was on a 1-10 scale, with 10 meaning muscular failure was achieved.

RIR - Reps in reserve, RIR 1 = 1 rep left in the tank; RIR 5 = you can complete 5 more reps. 

EFFORT - How hard you are pushing the set relative to failure. Measured with RPE or %1RM.

LOAD - The weight of the external resistance.

INTENSITY - Effort and load.

VOLUME - Total amount of work performed. Usually figured as sets x reps x load.

FREQUENCY - How often you directly train a given muscle per 7 days 

HYPERTROPHY - The growth of muscle tissue / muscle mass. 

AMRAP - As many reps as possible (with good form). Often performed as a max strength test.

Types of Sets

Circuit - Group of exercises to be done together without resting unless specifically stated.

Compound Set - 2 exercises that work the same muscle group to both be done before resting.

Superset - 2 exercises that work opposite muscle groups to both be done before resting.

Giant Set - 3 or more exercises to both be performed before taking a break or resting.

Drop Set - Drop = after completing the initial number of reps, lower your weight and complete the next set of reps, then lower weight after that number of reps and complete the next set number of reps, and so on.

example: 8 drop 12 drop 12

example: 8 drop fail drop fail

Set to Failure - This means you will perform each set of the movement until muscle failure.

Descending Set (12,10,10,8) - Any time you see a descending set you should aim to increase weight each set when reps decrease.

Pyramid Set (12,10,10,12) - Any time you see a pyramid set you should aim to increase weight when reps decrease and lower weight as needed when reps increase.

Straight Set - Any time you see straight sets, regardless of the number of reps, they are going to be tempo based, so increasing weight each set isn't necessary.

21's / 30's - The first 7/10 reps will only be half reps beginning at the starting position to halfway contracted, the second 7/10 reps will begin at the halfway contracted position and go to full contraction, the last 7/10 reps will be full range of motion reps.

Attachments / Equipment

DB - Dumbbell

BB - Barbell

KB - Kettlebell

Movement Positions

Eccentric - “Negative” portion of rep / target muscle lengthening / stretching

Concentric - “Positive” portion of rep / target muscle shortening / contracting

Isometric - Target muscle engaged in current position without moving

Sticking Point - Transition between eccentric/concentric “bottom of the rep”

Grip / Stance

SA - Single Arm

SL - Single Leg

Alternating - Switch back and forth on which side to perform the movement at a time.

Pronated - Thumbs facing each other

Supinated - Thumbs opposing / also called reverse grip

Neutral - Thumbs parallel facing forward

Close - Inside Shoulder Width Pronated grip.

Snatch - Extra Wide Pronated grip.

Cannonball - Heels together, knees and toes angled out slightly.

Sumo - Extra wide stance with toes pointed outward, knees should be over the heels when at the bottom of the rep.

Feet Touching - The balls of the feet are together, toes facing forward knees close together or touching.

Toes Raised - Weight plate underneath toes/ball of feet to better isolate hams/glutes.

Heels Raised - Weight plate underneath heels of feet to better isolate quads.

Toes Out - For calf exercises only. Heels hip width or closer, toes pointed away from the other foot.

Toes In - For calf exercises only. Heels hip width or closer, toes pointed towards the other foot.

Toes Straight - Regular Stance For calf exercises only. Heels hip width, toes pointed parallel to the other foot.

Movement Tempo

1st number: How long the negative portion of the rep should last

2nd number: How long should pause on the stretch

3rd number: How long the positive portion of the rep should last

4th number: How long should pause on the contraction

Negative is always the stretch (muscle lengthening)

Positive is always the contraction (muscle shortening)

example: Leg Press (4:0:1:0)

4 seconds on the negative, no pause on the stretch

1 second on the positive, no pause on the contraction

example: DB Incline Fly (4:2:1:2)

4 seconds on the negative, 2 second pause on the stretch

1 second on the positive, 2 second pause on the contraction