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June 18, 2016
by Anne Kip Watson

Motivation: Overcoming a Summer Struggle

June 18, 2016 15:11 by Anne Kip Watson  [About the Author]

Motivation, literally, IS the desire to do things. In an obvious sense, motivation comes from motive or what causes a person to behave or act in a specific way.

With the ‘lazy days of summer’ here, kids sleep in until noon and vacations away from work and school take place. More than likely, post-vacation blues set in and, sometimes, it is a sheer struggle to accomplish goals and objectives after taking in the beach or mountain air.

So what makes the difference between getting up before dawn to put in some miles on the bike or devoting the day laying around the house never hitting the gym or pushing play on the DVD?

Where does that motivation come from?

To answer the question, let’s first address what motivation is not.

Motivation is Not Based on a Feeling

Many people believe motivation equates to an inspiration or a feeling that spawns action. They tend to wait for THAT feeling to show up before taking action. This tendency, however, results in a lack of action and little movement towards goals and objectives.

Think of the person who wants to lose weight. The decision is made to go to boot camp class at 6:30 in the morning. The promise to a friend is set to show up. But, when the alarm goes off and the mood reflects dread, then the motive remains to stay comfortable in bed. Thus, no workout is accomplished, no movement towards the weight loss is taken, and the friend is stood up.

With this example, logically, when the belief that motivation comes from a feeling, the chosen behavior steers a person to away from the goal to lose weight. Waiting for that emotion to want to work out usually does not come.

The problem is not with motivation but understanding the foundation of motivation.

Two Kinds of Motivation

To clarify, motivation is based on goals not a feeling. Two common types of motivation are extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation derives from using external and tangible stimuli such as a trophy, championship ring, pay raises, time off, a new wardrobe, a trip, or car. Intrinsic motivation; however, comes from internal factors such as overcoming a challenge, finding out how far the body can go, impacting people to improve or change, and other intangible aspects of life.

Key Factor is Knowing the Why

Those that seem to defy laziness tend to keep their purpose or calling in front of them – an intrinsic motivation. They have a heart connection to the goal that defies feelings. More often than not, when a secure intrinsic resolve remains in place (why they do what they do) action is taken no matter what the feeling.

With the why in mind, when the alarm goes off to meet the friend at boot camp, dread may be felt, but the overriding aspiration to lose weight and keep a commitment to friend motivates action. Both the extrinsic motivation of potential pounds lost and the intrinsic motivation of keeping a commitment yield achievement.

Discipline Helps Improve Motivation

Self-discipline gives the fuel to motivation. Consequently, possessing discipline becomes a constant battle more so than finding motivation. Brendon Burchard, author of the Motivation Manifesto and creator of the High Performance Academy, says they are four ingredients to mastering self-control.

First, Burchard believes emotional engagement leads to focus on the goal and that arousal level must be consistently in place. Every morning, he suggests, visualizing the aspiration and ‘get yourself emotional attached with it; think about how great it will feel to have that thing, or be that thing, or contribute that thing’ (Burchard, 2016). In essence, Burchard suggests creating the emotion to go with the ‘why’ of your goal since the emotion is not often there to start.

Imagery, in fact, according to a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, is best used seconds before performing. Runners who visualized sprinting as fast as possible and setting a new personal record just before execution performed better than those who visualized three or five minutes ahead of competition (Asp, 2015).

In contrast, when the heart and mind are disengaged from the dream, and delay occurs, then it becomes easier to not take steps towards achievement. The desire for comfort, taking the easy way out, or the busyness of life all distract from action. When that occurs, it is more difficult to stay disciplined and execute well.

Second, Burchard says staying in control of the daily chaos in life is required for achievement. The high performance expert encourages his clients to be proactive with their schedule rather than reactive to the needs and requests of others, ‘do your work first, it’s easier to stay disciplined’ (Burchard, 2016).

With a weight loss goal, doing the work of exercise in the morning, eating a clean breakfast, preparing healthy food to take for the day gets the day off to a good start. Delaying the work towards weight loss and hoping a time opens up during the day when it can take place, usually means the work towards weight loss does not happen.

To create control from random action, Burchard indicates blocking time daily as a third key to remaining disciplined and ultimately motivated. He recommends purposeful action during specific times and only taking steps towards those goals during that specific time.

Scheduling what must happen leads to achievement. And, scheduling does not rely on a feeling but simply a planned time on the calendar for accomplishment.

Finally, Burchard encourages finding community, whether friends or family, to go through the process of achievement. When incremental goals are met, he recommends talking about it and celebrating those steps. In this way, he claims, discipline is not just work but fun and satisfying.

The Bottom Line of Motivation

When keeping a dream goal in mind and gaining clarity on why the goal is worth pursing, then taking action does not require a feeling, it simply requires action. The feelings of inspiration often come after taking the action.

When dread hits after the alarm goes off in the morning, getting up, showing up, and working hard create more motivation towards doing it again the next day. Each step, each work out, each clean meal leads to weight loss, better health and longevity, being a role model for the family, a new wardrobe, and greater energy, focus, and confidence.


Asp, K. (2015, May). Perform at your peak. Oxygen Magazine, p. 38.

Burchard, B. (2014). The Motivation Manifesto. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc.

Burchard, B. (2016, January 17). 4 Ways to Become More Disciplined . Retrieved from

Halvorson, H. G. (2011, June 17). The 3 Biggest Myths about Motivation that Won't Go Away. Retrieved from

The Mind Tools Editorial Team. (2016, June 18). Motivation: Energizing Your People to Achieve Good Things. Retrieved from

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