90% of the battle

I don’t need the motivation to run 10km — I need just enough to put on my running shoes.

90% of the battle is getting started. Yet, sometimes, even putting on the shoes feels hard.

Here is my favorite hack, but before that, we need to know some neuroscience.

Think of your brain as consisting of two systems — the ‘thinking brain’ and the ‘emotional brain’.

1. The ‘thinking brain’ (mostly our prefrontal cortex) knows the right thing to do. It makes us set goals (e.g., New Year’s resolutions) but, when we are under stress, it goes offline and is not of much use.

That is why after a tiring day at work we forget about our resolve to eat healthy.

2. The ‘emotional brain’ (our limbic brain) controls our motivation and excitement, but it can’t think — it can only feel.

Hence, to find motivation, engineer the right feeling — knowing doesn’t help.

Here is a step-by-step process:

Step 1: Every time you work out, pay keen attention to the feeling of accomplishment and the endorphin bliss you feel. Capture these feelings in your memory.

Step 2: On the days you lack motivation, don’t force yourself. Just sit down and feel the post-workout bliss. The key is to feel, not think.

That will give you enough of a motivation blip to put on your running shoes and get started. And once you start, you will do it — trust me.

There is more motivation inside you than in the whole of YouTube. Look inside.

– Rajan

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