Not long ago, I’d been seeing someone. We’d been dating for some time, and while the relationship was far from perfect, it was more serious than any I’d ever been in before. I couldn’t be happy unless she was happy. Any time she wasn’t around, I was thinking about when I would see her next.
And then, two months ago, out of the blue, for reasons I couldn’t even understand at the time, she broke up with me.
So, I’ve been a bit depressed. After she broke up with me, all I wanted to do was lay in bed all day, eating junk food, drinking cheap wine, watching tv shows, and crying into a pillow. So I did that- for one day.
After that I got back to work. Here’s what’s happened since she broke up with me.
In the first five weeks, I lost half an inch off my waistline. This equates to 3-4 pounds of fat loss, taking me from 14% to 13% body fat.
In the three weeks since, I’ve gained two or three pounds of muscle, without regaining any of the fat I lost.
I’ve published several articles, both on this blog and other sites.
I’ve added a couple hundred more followers to my blog.
I acquired two new clients for my online advertising consulting business. This is how I actually make my living, FYI.
I went on a first date. Admittedly, I fucked this up by being a downer, but still, I did it.
I’ve continued to meditate for 15-20 minutes with the aid of Versus, 2-3 times a week.
I’ve substantially improved my posture, and eliminated my upper back pain.
I’ve made it to the gym 3-5 times a week, every week, without fail.
Given how depressed I’ve been, you might be wondering how I motivated myself to do all of those things. The answer is simple: I didn’t.
The whole notion of “getting motivated” assumes that your ability to take action is dependent on your mental state. That you can’t do anything unless you’re in the mood. But consider how you would behave if you were depressed.
Maybe you wouldn’t make it to the gym. Maybe you would’t make the effort to dress well, or keep yourself well-groomed. Maybe your hobbies would fall by the wayside in favor of just watching TV. Maybe, instead of cooking healthy food, you’d just order pizza.
On the other hand, you probably would make it to work every day. Five days a week, you’d get out of bed despite badly wanting to sleep in, trudge off to the office, and put in your eight hours. You’d do it because going to work isn’t even a decision- it happens automatically, independent of your feelings
I’m the same way with my work, even though I’m self-employed, don’t have anyone cracking the whip on me, and can’t really lose my job as such.
More to the point, I treat fitness, household chores, and whatever else I’m working on- like meditation or posture exercises- the same way. They just get done, regardless of how I feel. So every day, I wake up, make myself some tea, meditate, work, hit the gym if it’s scheduled that day, and do whatever else I have scheduled.
And at night, I process my feelings about my ex, and I figure out what went wrong and how I can ensure that my next relationship is better. But I save that for the evenings- during the day, I set it aside so I can work.
The truth is, there was a period of over a month where I never felt motivated to do anything at all. The last few weeks have been a little better, with flashes of happiness here and there, but still not great most of the time. I don’t feel motivated to write this article right now. Nonetheless, the last two months have been one of the most productive periods of my whole life.
There’s a lot that goes into that- I schedule my to-dos. I take steps to reduce “friction,” making it easier to get started on my tasks. I even make use of those occasions when I do feel motivated.
But most importantly, I have a system. A system to keep me on track with fitness, business, and everything else I’m working on. A system that helps to motivate me, and more importantly helps me fight through a lack of motivation. A system that makes fitness just happen, regardless of how I feel on any given day.