Problem Solve when Motivation is Elusive

“At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”


This quote is from the main character Mark Watney from the film The Martian. In the story, Mark’s motivation to problem solve saves his life. So it is safe to say his motivations are clear; just continue to stay alive. But his approach is the same as anyone’s approach to achieving any goal.

Look at the situation in front of you, decide if the obstacles in your way outnumber your reasons to keep going. Give up or solve the closest issue at hand, move on to the next obstacle.

To every new person that walks through CrossFit Banshee’s door, we ask a series of questions. In their answers to how coaching would help them, they look at us both exasperated and hopeful and state they need to get a hold on the slippery and elusive state of staying motivated.

“I do really well, and then…” Typically something happens to throw them off their training and/or nutrition track. Or as Mark Watney says, “At some point, everything’s is gonna go south on you…”

Some examples of problems that might send stuff south when maintaining a healthy lifestyle;  A cold or illness, later or long hours at work, a vacation, a really good t.v. show, an indulgent weekend, a bad night of sleep, a change in relationships, etc.

Knowing that motivation is not and will never be a constant state (unless you are trying to survive being stranded on Mars perhaps) we are here to demystify why your motivation is strong at 10 pm but ghosts you when it is time to get up for the 6 am class.

There are various places motivation comes from but we will start with deciphering what is triggering the motivation to begin and then continue a goal.


  • Intrinsic- You have some desire within you. It is like your body is compelling you to continue to practice. For example, when I was learning how to do jump roping double-unders, I would dream about doing them well and how good that would feel to do them effortlessly and conquer that goal.


  • Extrinsic- Something outside of you is the trigger. You hate running, but you know the benefits of getting up and going. You know that if you learn to run better, you will have better scores in the workouts.


  • Social Motivation- Also extrinsic, but from a closer circle of friends and family. You appreciate the positive feedback and approval for all of the hard work you have put into achieving a new skill or goal. And then there’s this when it comes to social motivation… “more than a few adults—have taken up a musical instrument or a sport because they believed that expertise in that area would make them more sexually attractive.” Ericsson, Anders. Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise


Your goals and reasons to achieve them will bounce around between internal and external motivators.

Knowing that motivation can feel elusive, and even situational, how do you maintain the motivation you have?

There are two parts to determining how well you maintain your motivation.

Reasons to keep going or reasons to quit.

Whew… well, that isn’t so mysterious.  At the same time, we rarely sit down and think about the specifics of those two categories.

I challenge you today to sit down and write out the reasons you have to keep working on your health and wellness, and the reasons that will make you want to quit.

Let us know what you come up with, we can help you problem solve those reasons to quit and amplify those reasons to keep going!



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