November 10, 2020 – Motivation and ability

Hi Everyone! 


I think I’m not alone in feeling a renewed sense of hope and optimism for the world after the weekend’s US new president and vice-president announcement. Hope and optimism are very strong forces and motivators. Let’s use them. 


On that note, I was listening to a podcast on motivation and habits. What stuck with me was the idea that motivation and ability are compensatory.  


What this means is: 


  1. When your motivation is low, your ability to do something has to be high – ie. It has to be easy for you to do. Otherwise you won’t do it. 
  2. When your motivation is high, you can ask yourself to do hard things.  
  1. Increasing and sustaining a high level of motivation all the time is impossible.
  2. Therefore, you have to constantly be tweaking what you are demanding of yourself and/or others so that what you are asking for matches the level of motivation.

This makes so much sense to me as a coach and parent and I’m sure it resonates with managers and teachers as well. Before asking yourself or someone else to do something, you have to assess the level of motivation, because the ability to do the action will depend on that. And instead of getting irritated or annoyed that the person (or ourselves) aren’t doing it, we need to make the action easier. Bring the demand down to meet the level of motivation. 


Here are some examples:  


I want to eat more vegetables, but I’m not super motivated. For breakfast I eat whatever I made the kids (not vegetables) and lunch is what is easy and satisfying from the cupboard (not vegetables). Because my motivation is low, I need to make it super easy. I need to tell myself I will eat one baby carrot today. Easy. That is all. Success. And small successes breed motivation. 


After New Year’s I’m super motivated to eat more vegetables and I can use that motivation to do harder things. I can start buying and cutting up more fresh vegetables and learning to cook new meals with lots of vegetables. My motivation won’t last, but while it’s there I can do the harder things. And then maybe, just maybe, they become easier.  


With running, when I’m feeling motivated, I can set out for a hard 25km run and lean into the pace and get a lot out of myself. I’m working towards a goal and have energy and desire and am enjoying working hard.  


When I’m not motivated I can’t ask myself to do that. 25K is way too daunting. So much so that I have trouble even getting out the door. Instead, I need to ask myself to go for an easy run with friends or even a 20 minute jog. Small things that match where I’m at. I don’t do nothing – I do a tiny thing. Success. And then a tiny bit more motivation. 


This is not rocket science but is so important to understand when asking ourselves and others to do things. Instead of constantly fighting for more motivation and higher achievement, let your demands be dictated by the waves of motivation. Because it does always go in waves. And by matching those two things you are always setting yourself and others up for success. 


On that note, if it helps your motivation to sign up for a race, join a LES Tannenbaum team!  

I’ve registered myself and the team LES Masters Ladies – so if you want to join that team go for it! 


And on to workouts for this week: (and remember, if you’re currently low motivation, make it easier! Do one or two intervals. Just don’t do nothing) 


  1. Up to 5 x 800 w 1:30 rec, 3-4 min rec, up to 5 x 400 w 1:15 rec 
  2. Fartlek style: up to 5 x 3 min Hard, 1:30 easy, 3-4 min easy, up to 90 sec Hard, 1 min Easy 
  3. Hills if you haven’t done ‘em! 
  4. Tempo: 5 x 5 min tempo w 2 min easy