By Ryan Gillihan


“You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good” – Jerry West

If you’ve ever been in a gym, or even simply uttered the phrase “working out,” you’ve probably heard responses or comments like “I can’t lift without my music” or “I need my caffeine.”

It’s pretty common; we all have our own rituals and habits that keep us motivated. You might’ve tried watching one, two or twelve inspirational YouTube videos, probably with a ton of misattributed quotes and angry yelling. You might have a curated list of songs on your phone that include the likes of Eminem, Kanye West, Avenged Sevenfold, or any of the Marvel movie soundtracks. There are a variety of different methods to infuse motivation into our daily life.

But what happens when those methods fail? What happens when you show up to the gym and your headphones were left back on your kitchen counter, or the gym WiFi goes out and your songs aren’t downloaded?

We may have days where we feel like we’re on top of the world and that we could move mountains with our bare hands and wrestle five alligators while teaching a dissertation on astrophysics. But other days we feel like the TV remote is just too hard to lift off the couch to change the channel off of reruns of Cake Boss. Our daily lives do not always follow a consistent rhythm; how we feel changes just as much as the weather.

We often fall under the assumption that we need to be in a specific mental or emotional state to have an effective workout, and we try a variety of different methods to put ourselves in that state. But when those methods fail, some of us find ourselves skipping workouts or giving up altogether.

The trap we fall into is fueling our workouts with situational emotions versus consistent practice. We attach our workouts to how motivated we are that day instead of the goals they’re meant to pursue. However, our goals do not get reached unless there is a consistent level of discipline that supersedes the daily situations (and the attached emotions) we find ourselves presented with.

The key difference is this: if you workout based on how you’re feeling that day, it ends up a little like gambling. But if you slowly build a foundation of discipline over time, showing up to the gym and doing what you can with what you have, that foundation will carry you toward your goals regardless of what life throws at you.

So, the next time your contemplating skipping the gym, remember: The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen.

– RG