Why Can’t I Stay Motivated to Exercise?


resting

resting (Photo credit: liber(the poet);)

Good News: You are probably not lazy!

Bad News: You may never find exercising a joy.

A person’s perceived lack of motivation to exercise is actually his/her natural response to his/her need for leisure and rest. Some people naturally need to exercise and find it energizing and fun.  Other people need to relax and lounge around and find exercising exhausting or at best a necessary evil. They can’t wait for exercising to be over.

Dr. Steven Reiss, Ph.D. developed the Reiss Motivation Profile ® which measures 16 human needs/motives that are common in all humans. One of the measures is the need to be physically active. If someone is naturally wired to need physical activity, then s/he is motivated to be active physically and feels frustration if the need is not satisfied to the extent the person feels is needed.

When I work with helping an injured athlete understand his/her valued needs for example with a high RMP score in physical, s/he often reports significant mental distress and frustration at being unable to satisfy his/her need to exercise due to the injury.

Someone needing physical exercise tends to report a feeling of rejuvenation and satisfaction when working out. Someone who needs leisure and rest typically reports exhaustion and fatigue following their self-forced exercise.

A Reiss Motivation Profile ® is an amazingly predictive and illuminating tool to understanding one’s needs and behaviors. For someone with a need for leisure, a greater need than the need to be physically active will be necessary to motivate the person to endure exercise. For example, if a person values tranquility, then s/he is motivated to avoid risk, pain, injury and death. If his/her physician prescribes exercise as a way to avoid the painful effects of diabetes, then the person’s higher need for tranquility will override temporarily their need for leisure and s/he will exercise, albeit reluctantly and probably will be counting the minutes until the exercise is over so s/he can relax again.

A leisurely person may find low impact physical activity more tolerable, such as tai chi, yoga, walking, cycling or other less strenuous forms of exercise.

If you are having trouble finding your motivation to exercise,  is it possible you have a leisure deficit?  When was the last time you felt fully rested and rejuvenated?  If you are motivated to seek leisure and are not well rested, then you will probably not have the energy or motivation to force yourself to exercise because you need to rest first.

Understanding one’s needs is the key to understanding one’s behaviors and predicting future behaviors.  By appealing to the most appropriate need,  a person is able to complete a behavior she might otherwise not find naturally attractive or desirable.

For those interested in learning more about the Reiss Motivation Profile ® I recommend, “Who Am I?” and “The Normal Personality,” both by Dr. Steven Reiss.  Dr. Reiss also blogs regularly for “Psychology Today” and you can read more about common human motivation on The World Society of Motivational Scientists and Professionals site,www.motivationscience.org.

If you want to experience your Reiss Motivation Profile, contact me at andy@lifematchesbook.com.

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Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be a Bad Thing


Big Ice Cream Weymouth
Image by boliston via Flickr

More is Not Always the Best Answer

If you are not getting what you want out of how you are choosing to live your life, then is continuing to do more of what you are not happy with, the most effective strategy to be happy? Too often we do more of what worked for us once, even when we are confronted with undisputable evidence that we are failing to be successful in achieving our desired goals or outcomes.  It’s tempting to say, “I guess I’m just not good at that anymore.”  When in reality, you may be suffering from too much of a good thing. Overuse or misuse of a personal strength can often appear to others as a personal weakness or limitation.

Know Your Strengths

In my book, “Life Matches: Fire Up Your Life!” I suggest that a great way to uncover and understand your natural, personal strengths is to purchase Tom Rath’s best-selling book, “StrengthsFinder 2.0” and complete the accompanying online personality assessment.

My StrengthsFinder 2.0 ® results revealed that I had the following internal primary motivations:

Achiever-Feels most satisfied with daily, tangible accomplishments.

Activator-A person of action–a doer.

Belief-Hardwired internal values and ethics determine choices and behaviors.

Learner-There is always something new to know in life’s laboratory.

Maximizer-Make the most of the personal gifts you have been given.

Responsibility-Personal commitment to dependability.

In my professional roles as a motivational speaker, human performance improvement specialist, trainer and executive coach, I regularly blend my strengths to perform in ways that successfully meet the demands and expectations of these roles and provide a great sense of personal satisfaction. That’s how it works for me on a good day, when I’m at my best.  On a not so good day, when I’m not able to come up with a winning strengths blend, I tend to choose my strongest strengths by default and things don’t always work out as well. For example, when my achiever-self teams up with my activator-self and desperately want to “just get things started so we can get something done!”  I can appear to others as someone who is lacking in patience, prudence and might be someone who is prone to rushing to judgment.  But, hey man, I am just trying to use my strengths to fire up my life!  What could be wrong with doing that?

A “Life Match” represents the flame of one of your personal strengths and when used properly, they can fire up your life.  When used inappropriately, they can become an overly large open flame in an explosive environment which can cause a disaster.

Too Strong for Your Own Good

Many of my executive coaching clients are often frustrated when their most natural behaviors do not get them their desired results.  For example, an exceptional former salesperson whose strength of persuasive influence provided him/her years of sales awards, might be shocked to have his/her peers and staff described this same behavior as appearing overly pushy, manipulative and inflexible during a 360 degree feedback report of his/her performance as a sales manager.  One’s strength in one role can be perceived as a weakness in another role or situation.

It’s not that one’s strength has suddenly become a weakness. The strength has just been inappropriately used. It was the wrong tool for the wrong job.  Sometimes using 50% of a limited capacity may yield more effectiveness than using 100% of an inappropriate strength.

How do you know if you are abusing your strengths?  Ask people who care enough about you to be candid and brutally honest, which of your behaviors irritate, bother and bug them the most.  As you begin to get a picture of how others view your behaviors, you can then evaluate your motives, desired outcomes and most importantly, your tactics or behaviors that you used to try to achieve your desired outcome.  If you are lucky, your workplace may provide you with an opportunity to participate in a program that offers anonymous 360 degree feedback of our performance.  Your report will typically give you an idea of how others perceive your behaviors.  You can then explore what behaviors and strengths you are using and decide if they are the appropriate ones or if there is an area of limited capacity that you might need to better manage around.

For example, if one of your strengths is the ability to focus your attention for extended periods of time while working on a project it might allow you to produce an exceptional volume of work in a relatively short period of time.  The challenge might be that this focused work might cause other areas of your work to suffer, such as responding to co-workers’ e-mail messages or allowing telephone calls to divert to voice mail.  Your hyper-focus might be perceived by others as negligently ignoring them or as being unresponsive to their requests.  You may not have an actual weakness in communication, but your hyper-focus strength might be so strong that it overpowers your desire to be available to collaborate.

Coaches See What You Can’t

A professional coach is an excellent resource to help someone sort out which of one’s behaviors are counter-productive.   A coach can often see behavioral blind spots and bring them to one’s attention.  Once someone is aware of one’s blind spots, s/he can choose the most effective behaviors in a given situation that are most likely to achieve the most desired results.

It is possible to behave in ways that leave others feeling like someone is too much of a good thing.  That’s a bad thing and can become a limiting factor in one’s career advancement.  Knowing your strengths is a great start to living a fired up life, but knowing the proper strength to use in a given situation and the appropriate intensity of that strength is usually wisdom gained from candid feedback and thoughtful reflection.

If you are feeling ineffective, perhaps using too much of one or more of your strengths is to blame.

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