We are over halfway through what those of us who go to the gym regularly see on an annual basis. January first, those crowds of “resolutioners” who show up, intent on making this the year they get in shape. The gym gets crowded with “noobs” running around with all this motivational energy.

And we know, historically, that 75% or more will be gone in the next 30 -90 days. Either they achieved their goal that fast (least likely scenario) because they set the bar too low, or they give up from lack of any real progress.

Herein lies the great conflict within us. We have all this energy built up, motivational energy to change. We work up a vague impression of a goal, and off to the gym we go. It’s hard at first, but we expect that and our motivational energy carries us over the first series of hurdles. The, it happens…….we question our motivation. Usually due to lack of progress. It reveals a universal truth.

Energy with no direction will just dissipate.

Think of it like this. Your motivational energy is like a bullet. If I take a live cartridge out of a gun and chuck it in a fire, the casing will explode and push the bullet out. The only problem is that the bullet doesn’t go very far, and it can easily be stopped by something as flimsy as cloth. Much like your motivation, then energy of the bullet dissipates before it can be effective and is stopped by minor obstacles.

In order to be effective, a bullet needs two more things,  a gun barrel to channel the energy and it needs a target to hit. It’s a useless lump of metal up to that point.

First, your bullet needs a target. I mean a specific target. Otherwise, how can you measure progress and success? If you don’t know where you are going, why are you going anywhere? You need a goal. More than that, you need a SPECIFIC goal. Something you can measure. Something that you can build a plan to work towards. The more time you spend narrowing your vision and goals, the more achievable your goals become. They should be measurable, specific and reasonably achievable, and they should have a time frame. This is the target you focus on. You can have a goal to get in shape, but what does that mean? And by when? How? You want to get stronger, great. Stronger at what?


Second, and just as important is a target. Your motivational bullet needs direction, it needs a program, it needs a plan. That is the gun barrel that focuses your energy. In fact, if you have a plan, it can help make up for those days that you are lacking in motivation. As long as you can get yourself into the proper environment, all you have to do is follow your existing plan, and that is energy well spent. You aren’t wandering around the gym, half-heartedly expending energy doing things that will not progress you towards any goal. That’s not productive. Stay home, eat cookies instead. At least that’s enjoyable. Your plan should fit your goal’s time frame and include the necessary elements for success. If you are losing weight,  your measurement and daily macro/calorie schedule is part of your plan. If it’s strength then it can be as simple as an 8-week program you downloaded from a website that meets your goal.

And for god’s sake, write it down somewhere. Organize it. Look it over. Post it somewhere conspicuous so it’s in your face, making you fire that motivational bullet every day.

Bad Resolution: I am fat , I am going to lose weight. (This idea was born to fail)

Good resolution: I am 15 pounds over what I would like to weigh. I am setting a goal of losing 15 pounds in 12 weeks. I will weigh in daily, set a goal for caloric intake that ensures I stay at a deficit that is recommended to meet my goal. I will track what I eat and track my progress.

Which do you think is more likely to succeed?

A goal without a plan is just a dream. And more often than not, dreams DON’T come true.




3 thoughts on “Motivation versus direction

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