Why Motivation Does Not WorkNov 07, 2020
If you were in the military, then you’ve likely experienced a real bootcamp.
Not a fitness bootcamp, but a 24/7 “Basic Training” immersive experience designed to prepare you physically and mentally for the tasks ahead.
It’s also designed to indoctrinate you into a new belief system.
Well, for everybody who has NOT experienced this firsthand, perhaps you’ve seen videos or pictures of drill instructors yelling into the ears of new recruits.
You might think:
“Wow, that instructor is really motivating those recruits. If I only had a drill instructor to motivate me like that. I’d probably lose weight much faster.”
But if yelling into somebody’s face helped you get athletic levels of bodyfat, well, folks would just ask a friend to scream colorful insults and pounds would “melt” away due to…
🤨 the focused workouts you would be “motivated” to complete.
🤨 the portion-controlled nutrition program you would be “motivated” to follow.
🤨 the quality sleep you would be “motivated” to get.
You see, it's the environment of Basic Training that transforms new recruits into trained soldiers.
Why Motivation Does Not Work
You open the kitchen pantry and it's stocked with every style of tortilla chips.
The corn ones, the lime ones, the super-spicy ones that love to be dipped in black-bean salsa.
If I were a betting man, I'd say you may eat some chips. Or at least I might.
Let me explain how environment matters more than motivation.
It can be tempting to blame failure on a lack of willpower or a scarcity of talent, and to attribute success to hard work, effort, and grit.
To be sure, those things matter.
What is interesting, however, is that if you examine how human behavior has been shaped over time, you discover that motivation (and even talent) is often overvalued.
In many cases, the environment matters more.
According to author James Clear, here are three strategies to design an environment that promotes success:
1. Automate Good Decisions
Whenever possible, create an environment that makes good decisions for you.
For example, when you batch-prepare meals on Sundays and Wednesdays, place the meals in single-serving containers.
It's way harder to control portion size when someone passes you the family-sized pasta bowl and reminds you not to insult the chef.
In another example, I’ve spent 24+ years engineering a world-class online personal training program, which automates good decisions and, as a result, helps you get into the best shape of your life.
You just show up and give an honest effort.
But you must show up.
2. Get In the Flow
You can design environment where good habits “get in the flow” of your normal behaviors.
For example, if you want to never skip the gym because you "forgot your gym clothes," you could place a fully stocked gym bag next to your car keys. Or in the trunk of your car.
Similarly, you are more likely to go to the gym if it is literally in your basement or garage.
Whenever possible, design your habits so they fit in the flow of your current patterns.
Whenever somebody asks me about the “best time to exercise,” I always respond that there is no “best time”... only a time that is most consistent.
Now think about that for a minute.
If your goal is to train 208 session per year, would that be easier with a consistent schedule... say Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday at 7:00AM?
Or would you be more likely to maintain a consistent schedule if you exercise in the mornings on some days, afternoons on other days, sometimes late at night, sometimes on the weekends?
In other words, NOT a consistent exercise schedule.
So, as not to insult your intelligence, I will let you answer that one.
3. Ditch the Negative Influences
You have the opportunity to remove the barriers that hold you back.
One strategy is to make it easier to avoid unhealthy foods by storing them in less visible places.
Will you eat a slice of chocolate cake if it's sitting on the kitchen counter under one of those glass cake domes?
I'd say the answer is yes.
Another example is to schedule your workout early in the morning, before the “craziness” of your day discourages smart choices.
Do You Have a Strong Environment?
You may be quick to blame your environment when things go poorly.
If you lose a job, it's because the economy sucks thanks to a viral pandemic.
If you're late to work, it's because traffic was insane.
If you miss a workout… well, there are never a shortage of excuses here.
When we win, however, we ignore the environment completely.
You wanted to increase your strength, so you hire a strength coach who helps you get stronger over the next three months.
The "strong" environment is filled with other like-minded 40-plus men and women who are also interested in boosting strength. And willing to do the work too.
It is important to remember that the environment drives our good behaviors as well as our bad ones.
People who seem to stick to good habits with ease are often benefiting from an environment that makes those behaviors easier.
I firmly believe (and many current and former clients will back me up on this) that we’ve engineered a culture and environment that encourages healthy habits that result in positive behavior…
…ultimately leading to a lean and strong body, more energy, more confidence, more happiness, less depression and negativity.
Meanwhile, people who struggle to succeed could be fighting an uphill battle against their environment.
What often looks like a lack of willpower is actually the result of a poor environment.
Read that one twice.
Print it out and post it on your bathroom mirror.
Life is a game and if you want to guarantee better results over a sustained period of time, the best approach is to play the game in an environment that favors you.
Winners often win because their environment makes winning easier.
To your success,
Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online personal trainer, or you want to visit the best personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.