Where is Your Mojovation?

imagesI know…it’s not a word.  But it should be.  Especially if you have CF and you deal with the ups and downs of exacerbations followed by hospitalizations and the frustrating loss of all of your hard-earned fitness gains, there needs to be a unique word to describe what enables you to keep on plugging away at the goal to be fit.  I call it “mojovation.”  I define it as the desire to get your mojo back.

I know you can relate to the following:  There you are lying in your hospital bed, all packed up and ready to go home, waiting the inevitable extra hour or two for some random event to happen before you can leave (a wheelchair that you don’t need but is mandated by the hospital gods, your discharge meds that somehow ended up on the wrong floor, a nurse who needs to come in and “teach” you how to administer you IV’s even though you are 10,000 times more qualified than she is to teach this shit, etc), bored to tears wondering what to do?  I have a great idea.  This is the time for building your mojovation.

Face it, you lost your mojo as soon as you had to put the gown on backwards.  After a day or two of lying flat on your back, your quads probably started shaking when you got up to pee, even though you squated 180 lbs the week before you got sick.  You have likely lost five pounds of muscle in a fraction of the time it took to accumulate it, and your skin has taken on the color of hospital eggshell white.  You want to smash the tiny mirror above the tiny sink in the tiny bathroom and scream at the unfairness of it all, but you know this would result in further delay of your discharge as you would then have to wait for the psych consult. I say, harness this anger and grab a pen and paper…or your iphone if you are younger than 40 years of age and have forgotten how to use a pen.  Your mojo is not gone forever…you just need to locate it.

I learned the following exercise from Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, a social psychologist who researches, writes, and speaks about the science of motivation. Since we are speaking of regaining your fitness mojo temporarily lost in Tropical Storm CF, I’ll use a related goal in my example using Dr. Halvorson’s techniques.  The first thing to do is write down your goal.  Make it specific and make sure it is something that you not only really WANT to achieve, but also something that you are confident you CAN achieve.  Then ask yourself, “how will I know when I have reached this goal?”  If you don’t know, go back and work on it until you can answer this question.  Assume, for example, that my goad is “I want to squat 180 lbs again.” This is specific…I will know when I’ve done it (ouch).  I both want to do it (to prove I am bigger and badder than CF) and know that I can do it (I already have).

Now that the goal is defined, Halvorson suggests doing something called “mental contrasting.” I list 4 reasons this goal is important to me, in order of magnitude of importance. Then, I’m to write 4 obstacles, again in order of their obstacle-ness.  New word.  The hardest obstacle to overcome is number one, next hardest number two, etc.  This is easy enough.  Then I write a paragraph expanding on the number one reason this goal is important.  I go for it and just write whatever comes to mind.  Next, I do the same thing for obstacle number one.  Then, again I write about reason to do this goal number two, followed by obstacle number two.  So, four paragraphs in total.  I can stop here.  According to the research, this exercise makes my brain able to hold two ideas at once!  Who knew?  I am able to face an obstacle squarely when it arises, but still retain that little voice telling me why my goal is important and not run and hide at the first indication that life is not always a piece of cake.

The next idea is the gem and really the best part of this whole article.  There is a very simple planning task that, if you do, increases your chance of reaching your goal (assuming it is a goal that you really want and one that is achievable) by 150%, according to numerous research studies.  It is so simple that when you read it, you will say, “no way that is going to work.”  I know, that is what I said too.  But the fact that I am actually writing this is proof that it works!  The exercise is called “if/then” planning. Very simply, I come up with the time and place I plan on accomplishing the task I want to achieve, and write it down.  That’s it.  My first attempt at this was very small–and I suggest you do the same thing.  I decided that “when (you can substitute when for if) the coffee is brewing, then I will do my morning stretching.”  Morning stretching is something I know works well for me, but I often forget…or am too lazy… to do.  My if/then plan worked like a charm on this first test drive.  I was successful every day for a week, seemingly without any effort on my part.  It just happened.

Next, I tried, “when I drink my first cup of coffee, I will write in my journal.”  Again, it worked like a charm.  Magic.  In the past, my journaling efforts have gone roughly the same as my old Buick Skylark, which tended to die every time I turned left. Suddenly, I now automatically sit down with my Bulletproof coffee and write away.

My current if/then strategy is, “if I am Vesting, I will also be writing something in my blog.”  Oddly, this works in the morning (now), but I am having trouble with it at night.  So, this will be the topic of my next blog post…willpower, use it and/or lose it.

So now, back to the exercise goal you want to create while you are waiting to rolling out of the hospital.  First, try the mental contrasting writing exercise about why you want to regain your lost fitness, and what obstacles you will need to overcome.  Then, use the magic if/then technique.  Remember to start very small…test the waters a bit.   Take a tiny baby step in the direction incredible Superman/woman fitness levels. Something like, “when I wake up in the morning, I will do ten pushups,” is a great example.  Remember, make it very easy!  Then, after it becomes automatic, add something that is a bit harder…just a tiny bit.  These little steps build confidence in yourself, which remember is very important when it comes to setting and achieving goals.

Give it a try, and let me know how it works for you!

 

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