Going Beyond Motivation

Turn Your Unmotivated Days Into Self-Discipline Days


Published: 2024-03-14

Do you ever have anything that you need to do but you just cannot make yourself do it? Perhaps you have a paper to write for school, a project to prepare for at work, or a workout you need to complete. Sometimes it might even take more time and energy to agonize about what you must do, rather than just doing it right away. So how do we get out of this bad cycle?

What Motivation Is

Motivation could be internal and external. External is when it is coming from something else than you, for example, if you have a workout buddy who makes it easier for you to exercise. Internal is when the motivation stems from you, for example, you are so excited to get a workout in. Sometimes people are “hit” with motivation, and everything seems much easier to do. According to James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, he suggests that motivation is something that pushes us to act because not changing is harder to do than changing. He uses an example of going to the gym and working out when laying on the couch and disliking ourselves is harder. If you want more information, don’t hesitate to visit

Tips on How to Get You Going

It is hard to make yourself go from sitting on the couch with a warm blanket around you to getting out in the rain to getting to the gym. On a day like that, it seems much easier to just “do it tomorrow”. Preparing yourself for when you are not motivated might make it easier. What I mean by that is to plan ahead. Just break it down into small steps. A suggested schedule could look something like this:

1. Go into your closet and pick out workout clothes.

2. Put them on.

3. Fill up a water bottle.

4. Put on the shoes that you are going to work out in.

5. Walk out the door.

This might seem oversimplified, but if you break it down into smaller steps it may seem less intimidating. “I am just going to pick out my workout clothes” rather than “Oh no I have to get to the gym to squat”.

Going Beyond Motivation

I use similar strategies to myself to work out. Even though I am a personal trainer, I am not always motivated to work out. However, I know the importance of it, I know I feel better afterward, and I have a plan of what I am doing. Motivation is great when you have it, but sometimes you have to go beyond motivation and do things anyway. This is hard, but if you continuously make yourself do things right away rather than procrastinating, it becomes a habit. Schedule your workouts, don’t let them become negotiable, make them a priority. Do you walk your dog even though you don’t always feel like it? Do you brush your teeth late at night even if you are tired? (I hope you answer yes to both of these.) If so, you realize that there are things that we do even though we don’t have the “motivation” to do them. Look at working out the same way, it is just part of your routine.

Now, scheduling ahead as I mentioned is helpful and so is having a plan once you get into the gym (or wherever you are working out). If you are already unmotivated, going somewhere without a plan will make it much easier to skip the workout, shorten it, or not give it your best. I am not saying that everyone doesn’t have bad days but planning it out rather than “winging it” might help.

Adding a Routine

There is a reason athletes have pregame routines that look the same every time. The warmup is usually the same and the amount of preparation before the game is the same. The same goes with successful writers. Many have a specific set schedule for when they write. Some wake up before the sun every morning and sit down to write, others write late at night. What they have in common is that they do the same thing over and over, they don’t wait for inspiration to hit them, they sit down and work. So, when you are procrastinating doing something that you want to be a habit; make a schedule, create a pregame routine that helps you, and take motivation out of the game.

My Routine

To get myself ready to work out, I try to do it at the same time every day. I have the luxury ability of a flexible work schedule and I have found that around 11am is my sweet spot. I have a good breakfast in me, but I didn’t just eat so that I am full. Of course, sometimes work gets in the way and my schedule changes, but the routine stays the same. I go get changed, fill up my water, put on my shoes, and head out. Once I get to the gym, I start by walking on the treadmill, and I do this for two reasons. One, it warms my body up before I go into specific warmup exercises for that workout. Two, it warms up my mind and gets me into a workout mood. So, even if I am still not “feeling it,” walking on the treadmill with a good playlist will get me there.


You must find what works for you, but I hope you try at least one of the things that I am suggesting in order to help you on those days when you are not feeling it. It is not the days when you are excited to hit the gym that is the hardest, it is the days when you don’t feel like doing anything. We all have those days, but you can plan for them. Commit to improving your self-discipline. I hope this helped!

“Self-discipline is when your conscience tells you to do something, and you don’t talk back.”

– W. K. Hope


Clear, J. (n.d.). Motivation: The Scientific Guide on How to Get and Stay Motivated. Retrieved from

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