Motivation vs. Commitment

What’s the difference between motivation and commitment? Also, maybe more importantly, why should you care? This is an important topic that I like to cover with my clients and understanding this is going to give you an edge while tackling not only your health and fitness goals, but any goal you set for yourself. It’s something you may already know but might just not have clearly articulated it to yourself. Taking the time to think this through and following the exercises below are PROVEN to work!


Motivation can be thought of as the initial PUSH that gets you going, while commitment is the force that KEEPS you going. People often don’t realize that motivation is temporary. It comes and goes based on several factors. Somedays you will feel motivated; somedays you won’t. That’s a fact of life for EVERYONE.  You’re not the only one that doesn’t always FEEL like going to the gym. I have those days too. Life’s busy, life can be hard, you might say to yourself, “Man, I just don’t feel like working out today.” Let me reiterate the previous statement; EVERYONE feels like that sometimes. This is where commitment comes in. When motivation fades, you must be committed to achieving your goals. Commitment is having the GRIT it takes do the daily actions required to achieve your goal, even when you don’t necessary FEEL like doing those actions.  Let’s talk about a few things you can do to use these principles to your advantage.

Motivation myth: Motivation comes before you get started.

  • “One of the most surprising things about motivation is that it often comes AFTER starting a new behavior, not before,” says Mental Performance Mastery Coach, Brian Cain.
  • Motivation is often a RESULT of action, not the cause of it.
    • “An object in motion stays in motion,” – just like physics!

Let’s put this into context of your fitness goals. Sometimes, just getting to the gym is hardest part. On the days you aren’t motivated, if you can’t get yourself in the gym door or even in the gym parking lot, you will “lose” that day. So, knowing that’s going to happen, preparing for being unmotivated – how do we set up ways to just get there? If motivation is a RESULT of movement, not the cause of it, let’s just get you to the gym, and let motivation kick-in instead of waiting for motivation to come to us.

  1. Put your workout in your calendar. Schedule it.
  2. Have an accountability partner. Commit to meeting someone at the gym. Hire a trainer that’s going to be waiting on you. Tell a friend or family member that you plan to workout at 4pm today and tell them to ask you about it later tonight.

Motivation & Commitment Exercise (2 minutes)

  • Think about, or even better – write down, a time you felt motivated but were not committed.
    • Ex) In January of this year, I was motivated to lose 10 lbs., but I was not committed to the process, so I didn’t achieve my goal.
  • Think about, or even better – write down, a time you were committed but not motivated.
    • Ex) When I earned my college degree, I wasn’t motivated to pass my biology class, but I was committed to earning my degree; so I attended class, studied, and passed biology.

4 Ways to Increase Your Commitment

  1. Know your “Powerful Why” – knowing and consistently reminding yourself WHY you want to achieve this goal is going to keep you committed on the days you don’t feel motivated.
    1. Why do you want this goal?
    2. What are the benefits of achieving this goal?
  2. Have SMART Goals – I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but using the SMART acronym while setting goals is proven to increase the likelihood of success in getting what you want in comparison to vague goals.
    1. S – Specific
    2. M – Measurable
    3. A – Attainable
    4. R – Realistic
    5. T – Time based
  3. Breakdown long term goals into smaller weekly and daily goals – if your goal is a 3-month, 6-month, or 12-month goal, reverse engineer it into smaller weekly and daily goals. The truth of the matter is that all fitness goals, no matter the length, can be boiled down to this:
    1. One meal at a time
    2. One workout at a time
  4. Accountability – as mentioned above, accountability can be a great tool you can self-impose to help keep you committed.
    1. Utilize workout partners – knowing someone is going to meet you at the gym can often be the thing that makes sure you make it to the gym.
    2. Tell a friend or family member your workout schedule and instruct them to ask you about it.
    3. Hire a personal trainer – with many clients, we see they need a trainer to fill this role. A trained professional waiting on you. Not only will they be expecting you to be there, but you also must commit financial resources, which increases your likelihood of attendance. Nobody wants to waste their money; so you’re less likely to skip the workout if you know it’ll cost you financially as well.

I have covered this topic with countless clients, members, and team members and it can truly be a light bulb moment that gets them on the right path to their goals. I hope that understanding the difference between motivation and commitment will shed some light on your own path and that through some personal reflection and putting these ideas and exercises into practice, you will be that much closer to getting from where you are to where you want to be.