Motivation Overload

There seems to be no shortage of motivational graphics available online.

Some good. Some bad. Some ugly. (Seriously, unless you are Shelby, lay off the MS Paint.)

And honestly, they are starting to lose all meaning.


Maybe I’m cynical, but the majority of these do nothing for me. Probably because I see so many of them every time I check Facebook or Pinterest or go through Google Reader.

Talk is cheap. And that’s what a lot of these are. Talk. Sure, a lot of the people posting them do back up the talk with their actions, and that’s great.

But if you really want to motivate me? Show me. Show me REAL people doing amazing things. Don’t show me a JPG of text. (Also, stop posting things you don’t fact check. Stop posting quotes attributed to people without checking to make sure they are accurate.)

What bugs me about a lot of these is that they are trying to shame people into taking action. A lot of these seem to have an undertone of “get up off your ass, you fat lazy slob, and be awesome LIKE ME.” (Or am I the only one who gets that vibe?)

Maybe that works for some people, but I think shame will get you only so far in motivation. (Time for some armchair psychology.) True motivation comes from within. Not from shame.

My motivation comes from setting my own goals and achieving them. Every time I think about my first half marathon, and how hard that was for me, but that I got through it, I am reminded that I can survive. I can achieve my goals, no matter how lofty they are.

And my motivation to sign up for a marathon came from seeing other people – people just like me – finish a marathon. I wasn’t shamed into this lifestyle by someone else’s talk or motivating catch phrases. I was motivated by action.

I also get irked by any us-versus-them “motivation.” Especially anything that pits different body types against each other, basically anything vs. skinny women – strong vs. skinny, fat vs. skinny, curvy vs. skinny. Skinny is not bad. Skinny people aren’t bad. Stop making them the enemy. Skinny people are real people too.

And please, stop with the “you either ran today or you didn’t” guilt-inducing “motivation.” Because if your plan doesn’t include rest days, unless you have perfect bio-mechanics, you are setting yourself up for failure via injury or over-training or burnout or all three.

What do you think? Do you like these motivating graphics? Do they actually motivate you? Or do they bug you? Are there any in particular that you love and/or hate?

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18 Comments on “Motivation Overload”

  1. Some of them do motivate me, some of them don’t. Sometimes real people are more likely to motivate me and other times, inspiring/motivating quotes motivate me. I agree that these pictures all over Pinterest can be totally over the top, though.

    But, I TOTALLY agree that you can’t shame someone into long-term change and shame is not a motivational tool. Making a person feel embarrassed/ashamed/disgusted of/by themselves is likely to make them depressed and isolated, not empower them to effect a lifestyle change.

    1. Some of them do resonate with me, and every once in a great while might make it on my Pinterest board, but I think for every one good one, I see like 30 that just seem … cheesy.

    1. And on the same note, if I spent all of the time I spend on the internet doing more productive stuff like cooking and sleeping … maybe I wouldn’t be so crabby and writing posts like this, haha.

  2. I feel you here. I’ve been getting slightly annoyed by a lot of these pics that seems like people are just randomly pinning from pinterest or something too. How about the ones that say “the 5 foods that are killin you”, grrrr those ones really burn me up. Actually any type of motivational posting having anything to do with food really pisses me off. But that’s why I stay away from the food topic on the ole blog. And yes, thank you skinny people can be healthy too. And no skinny doesn’t taste like anything, even when used as “nothing tastes as good as skinny”.

    Whew, that was a lot of garbage coming from my mind all at one!

    1. Pinterest is the worst, because it’s often the SAME exact graphic over and over. And don’t even get me started on the some ecards … they were funny at first, now it’s like every random thought someone has gets put on one.

  3. first time I have seen this perspective….and I can appreciate it. It is starting to become a little overload, but I don’t mind positive motivation.

  4. I hear you – every so often one of these resonates with me and I pin/post it. I have maybe a dozen. All the time and making comparisons – no way. Want some real motivation check out the link in my post today to my friend George Gallego’s Ironman fundraiser. He is paralyzed – doing Iromman NYC and raising 50K – that gets me to spin class this morning! (Totally agree on the comparison thing — hate that and just wrote a post on it, too!)

  5. I agree on the overload! Some of them are inspirational, but they all start to feel watered-down when they’re popping up every 30 seconds.

    I’ve also noticed that when I follow certain races on Facebook, they all seem to post “motivational” things at just about the same time each day. It’s like there’s a clock that goes off somewhere “Time to post motivational quote of the day.”

  6. I’m so with you on this. On one hand, these are at least a little bit better than photos of glistening disembodied abs, which have started making me feel irrationally angry whenever I see them, but on the other hand most of them don’t really work for me. I, like you, love to see people doing things. I also was motivated to do a marathon after actually seeing people finish one in person. That’s what gets me all pumped to do stuff.

    And yeah, the shaming tone of some of them is unfortunate. I’m very much over this idea that shame is a useful motivational tool. How about a sense of accomplishment? How about pleasure and fun? Let’s talk more about doing the things we do because we ENJOY it, not because we feel like we have to earn the right to eat a cupcake or something.

    1. It almost makes me sad when people say they “run so they can eat” or some variation on that. You should run because you ENJOY it. If not, find another way to be active. And the whole “earning” a cupcake, beer, pizza, etc … I can understand using that once in awhile for motivation, but at the same time, it just seems like an unhealthy way to look at food.

  7. I lost a lot of weight in 12 months. People asked me about why and what motivated me. It was always a hard question to answer. To me it was just that i made the decision to do it(that was the hard part) then I just did what had to be done. I had a goal and did the work to accomplish the goal. I did not let anything get in the way of my goal. All the posters in the world weren’t going to help me. I believe for most people it does have to come from within. But I always say one thing do whatever works for you. That goes for diet and workout. Do what you will continue with. And whatever motivates you use it until it doesn’t anymore and find something else. If you need to be faster than a friend or beat their time then use that. If you want to qualify for something then use that. If you want to look a certain way then use that. We all know that pushing yourself in any activity is tough. We know we can stop at anytime. No one is making us run 7, 8, or 9 miles. We also know we are going to be stiff and sore afterwards. So whatever gets you going use it.

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