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AHA Community > Health & Wellbeing  > Can’t sustain your motivation? – Find out about your motivational highs and lows

Can’t sustain your motivation? – Find out about your motivational highs and lows

Are you experiencing motivation highs and lows? Wondering why you can’t be motivated ALL the time... while others seem to be continuously on a roll?

I used to put myself down for not being able to sustain my motivation for extended periods of time. 

“What a lazy, under-performing and not good enough person you are”, I was saying 'lovingly' to myself.

Well, I’ve got good news for you and me: NO ONE is motivated 100% of the time. Our motivation works in cycles! Mine, yours, his and hers, no matter how successful. No one is motivated all of the time.

"Say whattt, Diana? I thought you were giving me a magic pill for constant through-the-roof motivation!"

There’s no such thing! #angelsmile

I downloaded the weight-loss app Noom. Every day they give you bite-size information or suggestions to help you on your journey. The other day, I learned about what you'll read below and I knew that I had to share it with you! I had a shift in perspective.

Let’s use a the classical example: let’s say you want to run a 10K (or 100K, same process). Here’s how your motivation level will look like, always:

Photo Credit: Noom app.

Phase 1: The Hype

Wow! Once you start, your motivation goes through the roof. “I can do this, yeah, I am unstoppable!”, “This time I'll make it!”.

The “I’m spreading my wings and taking off with momentum” kind of feeling.

Electricity instead of blood, that’s what’s running through your veins right now. 

First running training nailed! Yeah! You can’t wait for the next one!


Peak: The Honeymoon

Your motivation is at an all-time high. This is where you (and me) WRONGLY assumed that we need to be ALL the time.

The “I’m the king/ queen of the world” kind of feeling.

You’re a few runs in, sticking to the schedule. Steady grip on things, until... IT HAPPENS!

Phase 2: The Plummet

Reality kicks in: "Running is HARD! Sticking to the schedule is HARD! I am so SORE!"

The electricity in your blood stream slows down and you feel you’re not strong enough to bring it up again.

THIS is normal! Accept this part of the process, just like you accepted the high. It is just part of the process.

Trough 1: The Lapse

The all-time low. The higher your high, the lower this low will feel. It sucks, doesn’t it?

The “I can’t do this/ This is annoying/ I knew I wasn’t good enough” type of feelings. I can last hours, days, weeks...


But, don’t you give up now!

The Lapse is natural and we all go through it. And IT PASSES, I promise. 

How to manage it?

  • Do as much or as little as you can. 
  • Don’t feel like running? Maybe just walk. Or do a few jumping jacks at home. 
  • Or decide to still do something towards your goal, like a visualization of you crossing the finish line. Or some stretches for runners.

Doesn’t matter. Do something. Something that you feel brings you closer to your goal. It's good for the mindset.

And... say thanks to The Lapse, because THIS is where you learn a lot about yourself, you become more prepared and find out what works for you when you’re not at your best, so you'll know how to deal with it in the future. It is priceless information what you get when you're in this part of the process.

Just.Don’t.Give.Up... because it only goes up from here.

Phase 3: From now and forever - The slips and the surges

This is the steadier state, where your highs and lows are smaller and easier to manage.

BUT still, you will have both, highs and lows. They are going to alternate. Forever and ever and ever. 

One day you wake up on the right side of the bed, maybe the sun is shining, maybe someone gave you a compliment, maybe you’re in the happier period of the month (ladies?). Training for your 100K feels nice and doable. You’re on top of it.

On another day, you burn your coffee, it’s raining, you’re late for work, the whole world hates you and you hate them back. Running feels like the last thing you need!

It’s just how motivation works. It’s just how life works.

As soon as you accept this as a fact, you will be able to take a step back and observe

  • “Hm, today I feel good. I’ll use this energy to get my training in and follow my plan.” or
  • “Hm, today’s not my day. Maybe I’ll just do a few stretches for my hips and hamstrings or some breathing to increase my lung capacity.”

Bad day? This shall pass.

Good day? This, too, shall pass.

The secret is:

  • No attachment towards the good days. Just ‘milk’ them when they come.
  • No aversion towards the bad days. Just accept them. Do less, but do something

Sooo, what where those phases, again?

  • Phase 1: The Hype
    • Peak: The Honeymoon
  • Phase 2: The P​lummet
    • Trough 1: The Lapse
  • Phase 3: From Now and Forever - The Slips and Surges

What are your main take-aways?

  1. Our motivation works in cycles: We have highs and lows.
  2. Observe your highs and lows objectively.
  3. When in a low, do less, but do 1 small thing towards your goal.

Now, where are you right now on your motivation graph? High? Low? In between? Observe what happens next. And if you need some tips against procrastination, here is an article about it.


  • On a high? What will you do?
  • In a low? What will you do?

You have all the tools to deal with this, baby! What's your 100K right now?

Diana Firican


  • Amy

    June 10, 2020 at 3:56 am

    I like this! so true, thank you!