Motivation and Focus – What’s the difference and why should you care?



1. The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
2. The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

As a trainer, this is one of the key elements that has to be figured out when I start with a new client. Everybody that walks into a gym usually has a specific “want” or “need” for being there.

I know from experience that the most common form of motivation is self image/vanity. Most people just want to look better and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as it doesn’t become an unhealthy obsession like narcissism or unhealthy diet practices.

Another common motivation is performance enhancement. Functionally, it’s a good thing to want to be fit. Every physical task we complete throughout the day requires some degree of strength, balance, flexibility and coordination. The more abundant these attributes are, the easier and more enjoyable those tasks are.

Stress relief is a big one too. This is one that I personally identify with. In our tech driven society, we’ve gotten so used to having the power of information gathering, shopping, communication and social interaction literally right in the palm of our hands that we sometimes fail to see how it is turning us into prematurely sedentary creatures. We used to have to drive to the store, find a parking space, spend time looking up and down aisles and carry bags. Now we point and click and viola!… Two days later I can open my front door and there’s my new pair of shoes, a blender, and some DVD’s so I can lounge on the couch and watch movies.

Sorry, I digress…

Motivation. This is what drives us to accomplish the goals that we set out for ourselves. Sure, you’re thinking, “I get that. I work out because (fill in your blank…)” Here’s the thing though, motivation without focus has a way of losing it’s “Mojo”. An example of this is when a client tells me, “I want to lose 20lbs so that I will look okay going out onto the beach in my swimsuit.”

OK, the motivation is clear, right?

A week later, we weigh and come to find out that their weight hasn’t changed. Do you think that they still want to lose the weight? You betcha! Probably more so than the week before because they’re running out of time! This is where FOCUS comes into play.


You see, motivation is great for creating a mental picture of a state
that you want to be in. You can visualize it, covet it, daydream about it,
whatever… But if you don’t FOCUS on it, and more importantly, what you have
to DO to achieve it, chances are that you’re not going to get there.

So, what’s the difference between motivation and focus? Look at it this way,
motivation is like deciding that you want to go on a wonderful vacation to the Bahamas. Focus
is all the details. Figuring out what dates you’ll be going and coming back.
It’s researching the best airfare and then purchasing the tickets. It’s
deciding which hotel you’ll be staying at and making reservations. It’s
figuring out what you’re gonna pack, right down to your toiletries. It’s
rearranging your work schedule to accomodate for the time you’ll be gone.
Basically, it’s the work and planning involved to make your motivation a


Saying that you want to lose 20lbs, or be able to do 10 pullups, or run a half marathon is all fine and dandy, but what are you prepared to do to get there?

So, just like you probably wouldn’t go on vacation without packing some clean underwear, you probably shouldn’t embark on your journey to fitness, health and well being without taking the time to figure out how best to utilize your time and resources. I’ve been working out for over 30 years, and as much as I like the way that it makes me look and feel, I certainly don’t want to spend one more minute than I have to in the gym to maintain it.


So what I’m telling you is to choose your motivation, and then get hell
bent on figuring out how you’re going to get there. Decide if the decisions
that you make in the gym, in the kitchen, in the restaurant, etc… are taking
you closer or farther away from your “destination”.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to pack some clean underwear…

Stay Fit Forever,