How to stay motivated when life knocks you down

Set backs… we all have them and generally they are not within our control. It’s important to note my perspective on a “set back” deems this as not quite something negative, more so something that can be overcome simply by changing your mindset. We may not be in control of life’s circumstances that get us down, but we are always in control of how we respond. A set back is defined as a hitch or difficulty. A problem as such. Something we need to understand in these difficult moments is that problems ALWAYS have solutions. We all battle adversity to some degree in our life whether that be issues of mental health, family, emotional, environmental or even situational. For me personally, my mental health battles have been a huge part of my life and the reason for my undeniable resilience. Just recently this year I was involved in a car accident, breaking my arm and sternum whilst in preparation for a body building/fitness competition. Motivation is the substance to achieving a dream or goal. So the question is, how do we stay motivated when life knocks you down? Something I have learnt during my own fitness journey and also whilst investing in my own clients journeys is that not everyone is motivated equally. You and your journey is unique and motivation is subjective so it all comes down to being able to relate to something thats considered motivational and how it personally has an influence on your own way of thinking. I am a firm believer in going after your biggest dreams and goals and being your own source of motivation for doing so, but learning to embrace this way of thinking requires some understanding of how to live with this sort of mindset.


The first step to believing in yourself is to work with your vision. I cannot go a day without my biggest goal surfacing into my thoughts, so I choose to act on that and plan some steps to achieving this goal. Every decision I make in a day is driven by this goal, whether that is about nutrition, training or just overall health. When you feel a lack of motivation, consciously thinking about your goal and thinking to what you want in your future can push you back into a focused mindset again. Heres what I do when I plan my goals:
  • Create a vision board/mood board with words of self praise and images of inspiration
  • I meditate and envision myself achieving the goal (for me it is being on stage competing in body building!)
  • Develop a step by step plan listing how you can achieve your goal (for me it was: contact a coach, research posing, educate myself on training)


A fail proof plan will ensure you bounce back from personal emotions you are experiencing. I have certain routines and practices in place as a safety net for when I’m needing a more positive mindset, as I know I’m never in the best head space 24/7 and that’s being realistic. This safety net of practices will ensure when in moments of weakness or emotion, you are deterred away from being self destructive. You will know exactly what you have to do when you struggle to reason with your own mind, because your plan is already decided. This may be as simple as saying to yourself, okay when I feel this way I’m going to go for a walk somewhere that I used to walk as a kid that I associate with good feelings. You can also reach out to family or friends and advise them of your safety net ideas so they know how they can help you when it’s needed. I know for myself when dealing with disordered eating habits, I needed got eliminate all foods in my environment that were going to be toxic to my behaviour and inform those closest to me so that I had some support in those times.  


The way in which you talk to yourself each day has a huge impact on your actions.  Do you psych yourself out of things? Do you tell yourself you can’t do something before you even try? We can manipulate our way of thinking even when we think we cant control our emotions. It’s important to remember in times of stress of anxiety, that you are in control. I create mantras in my head for when I’m feeling negative. I had to tell myself so many times when I had broken my arm and couldn’t compete that it was going to be okay. That I can control how I respond to the circumstance. That “I CAN get through this”. Every time that voice in your head tries to tell you you can’t do something, take conscious control. Everyone has a voice inside their head that tries to be the super ego and dominate all decision making and all patterns of thinking. We can learn to dictate our own thinking and all it requires is time to sit with your own thoughts and actually think about what you’re thinking!  


I’m going to draw out my perspective of motivation by using an example of a car trip. To get from destination A to destination B there has to be a reason why we are doing this. For example we may be off to work. There is a reason why you would be going to work and your first thought may be ‘financial gain’. BUT it must go deeper than that. Why financial gain? To afford my monthly rent so I can I live out of home and away from an emotionally abusive parent. This deeper reasoning is what I like to refer to as the “why” when I discuss motivation. No surface answers. Think deeper. There is ALWAYS a deeper reason why we do something. This is our driving force and our fuel as such to becoming motivated. In my experience the only way to truly tap into your motivation and drive yourself out of any sort of rut is to find your “why”. I get up at 4am every day to train. I prep my food weekly and stick to my meal plan. I say no to things that go against my goals. I know my reasons why I am doing it and it goes much deeper than just obtaining an ideal body composition. It sounds so simple to ask someone why they want a goal in the first place, but it can help you to understand what makes your goal so important to you. It may be your passion for health. It may be you don’t feel good enough and want to change. It may be your mental health. Whatever your reason for wanting your biggest goal, no one can motivate you for you. I urge you to ask yourself the following question every time you feel knocked down and unmotivated: what do you really want and why? In consideration of getting motivated, we also have to put into question what does NOT motivate you. It may be as simple as some bad habits you need to eliminate from your life, some people who are getting you down or deterring you from your goals or anything that is sold destructive to your mindset. One set back does not define you or your journey. They can perhaps pave the way for a new direction, a new beginning. Allow yourself the ability to understand your pattern of thinking and take control. Remind yourself every day you are the only motivation you need. Seize the day and motivate the hell out of yourself. (This blog piece was written for Chobani Au.)