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Ask Joe: Advice on Finding Motivation and Getting Promoted

By Joe Weston

Welcome to "Ask Joe," our RealJock advice column, written by our regular contributor, Joe Weston. Joe is a life coach, workshop facilitator, lecturer and peace advocate with a deep commitment to the possibility of individual personal fulfillment. Looking for some clarity on tricky issues in your life? Share what's on your mind with Joe—concerning work, personal awareness, love and romance, meditation and spiritual exploration, or just about anything else that's getting between you and your life goals.

Write to Joe:
Reaching Joe couldn't be simpler: just email your question to Your identity will be kept anonymous, but do note that questions may be edited for length and clarity.

Hey Joe,
I'm 33, obese (300 lbs, 5'11" tall) and trying to get fit, unfortunately I just can't find the motivation to work out. I have tried to get up early to exercise but just end up going back to sleep. I've tried working out after work, but I say "screw it, I'm too tired," or I'll sit in front of my computer and play video games until bedtime. I have tried finding a workout buddy, but every one I find isn't interested in losing weight; they just answer looking for sex; and I have tried looking for a fitness club in my town, but I can't find any social fitness clubs, just commercial ones. I even bought a Wii and the Wii Fit, thinking that making workouts fun would help me, but it hasn't, it just sits in the middle of the room begging to be used. I have a Bowflex Extreme 2 and a recumbent bike in my living room and they have become the stereotypical clothes hangers. I eat healthy (now) and I really want to lose the weight. Can you suggest a way to perk up my motivation? The lack of a boyfriend and even the threat of diabetes hasn't motived me.  

I'm desperate. All my life i wanted to be somebody; I should have been more specific.  

Dear Unmotivated,
Thanks for getting in touch. And thanks for being so honest with your dilemma. You are speaking for so, so many people who struggle with the same thing. On some level, we are all challenged to step up in an area of our lives or take care of ourselves in a healthier way. It’s hard to say what the right way for you would be without knowing you. However, one suggestion is to sit down with yourself and take a look at your weekly schedule and your own internal patterns. How much time in the day or evening do you have for exercise? How much free time do you have? The biggest reason we don’t keep up with our promises is that we over-commit. There is no need for you to start with one or two hours of working out or even doing a workout that pushes you too hard. Start with something simple that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, memberships, special equipment, and worries about others.

Ask yourself what would be realistic for you. It may only be 15 minutes a day, or 20 minutes three times a week. That may not seem like a lot, but it is a start and it’s much, much better than doing nothing! What is the time of day that you have the most energy? That should be the time you do some kind of exercise. After doing this for a while, you will naturally want to increase your time and effort because you will feel better, see a difference, and feel motivated to continue.

Another way to address your challenge is to look into getting a personal trainer. It may be a lot of money for you, but I think that it would be a wise investment seeing that not only are you not in good physical condition, you also don’t feel good about yourself. Getting someone who will hold you accountable will help you get on track, gain self-confidence and teach you a proper way to train.

However, I’m hearing some deeper issues around self-worth and self-image. I would recommend you look into getting a life coach or find a councilor who can support you in getting to the root of what is keeping you from establishing your personal values, and finding fulfillment. Another thing to do is find new friends and people to hang out with who share your desire to live a healthy, active lifestyle. Seek out groups and clubs where you know you’ll run into others who you resonate with.

I hope this helps. It’s all just suggestions, but the deeper advice is get out there and start!

Take it one step at a time,

  Hi Joe,
  I feel like I am being taken advantage of at my workplace. I tell people that I have my foot in the door, but the door is stuck! I work for a small newspaper group and after four years, I still work the worst shift possible—overnights three days a week, as well as a couple afternoons during the week—even though I have asked my boss a few times to put me on any other shift. My partner has been remarkably understanding, but I don't know how much more of my not being able to do anything with him on Friday and Saturday nights—then I sleep through the day on the weekends—that he can take. My boss's excuse is that he does not want to give any of my less-experienced colleagues that shift alone because he doesn't trust them to not mess up somehow. Meanwhile, I now dread going to work on those overnight shifts and I hate having to work shifts that normally would go to less experienced people, just because my boss has no trust in the others he has hired.   

Additionally, I contribute to one of the paper's blogs, for no pay, but which I thought would be good for my career somehow. But the same editor who wanted me to contribute to the blog has shot down every request I've had to write something for the print edition, which would pay, and this week I found out that someone else wrote something for the paper based on an item I wrote for its blog—that writer gets a newspaper byline and gets paid for that piece, while I was not even told about this or asked by the editor if I wanted to write it instead.   

There is no opportunity to move up for the forseeable future and no other departments have been hiring since I started working there so it seems I'm stuck, for the time-being. The past couple years I have worked for lower pay and have worked awful shifts because I knew I was lucky to be working but at this point I'm almost unbearably frustrated and would like to try to make this situation work rather than leave, but I wonder if that's even possible now.   

—Frustrated Writer

  Hello Frustrated,
Oh my goodness, I can imagine how frustrated you are. I got frustrated for you just reading the letter! This is a perfect example of the challenges “nice guys” have when they are in an environment that doesn’t support these kinds of generous, nurturing traits. In fact, they are usually used by others for their own personal gain, like your boss seems to be doing. I think it is great to be giving and open to sharing your talents. But I would suggest you save that openness for your personal life and also realize that you have the right and the power to say “enough!”  

This is your work. You are there to do business. There is nothing you can do about how much the others are abusing your open attitude. The only thing you can influence is your own choices and actions. You say you feel stuck. Well, of course you do. You don’t seem to be taking any action to protect yourself, or take care of your own needs.  

Yes, it is a difficult time to take a risk with losing your job, but it sounds like you may also risk losing the connection with your partner and yourself if you keep this up. I suggest you sit down first alone and figure out what you want and need. Then do the same with your partner. After doing this inventory, decide how much you can give to your work. Now it’s time to share that with your boss. Your boss seems to have no problem stating what he wants and what he can offer you. It’s time for you to do the same. You may not get what you want, but if you know your needs and boundaries, and you state them clearly, you both may come up with a solution that is not exactly what you want, but is more satisfying to you.  

I learned this the hard way in my early professional career. I thought that if people liked me, they would give me what I wanted and I would progress. I was wrong. They wanted me to be professional, not nice. I found when I stopped being overly nice and started getting tougher with how I communicated about what I expected and needed (in a respectful way, of course), they treated me much better and I had more success than when I let them take advantage of me. They started respecting me.  

So, I can’t tell you to go in there and demand what you want, and risk losing your job. But I can tell you that this is a great opportunity for you to learn how to honor your own needs, your talents and your self-worth. This is a chance to speak your truth and express yourself in an empowered way!  

Honor your gifts,

About Joe Weston: Joe Weston is an international workshop facilitator and personal life coach. Born and educated in New York, Joe lived in Amsterdam for 17 years and now lives in California. He is committed to helping others embody spirituality and supporting them on their journey towards personal fulfillment and empowerment. Joe brings a wealth of insight to his work based on many teachings, including Tai Chi Chuan and a variety of spiritual traditions—plus his experience in theater and various organizational trainings. He also volunteers for the Liberation Prison Project, teaching Buddhism to inmates. To find out more about his workshops and his personal coaching, visit

Joe will be offering a monthly class in Oakland, CA: Full Body Meditation, combining different physical disciplines as a preparation for a successful mediation. Check here for details. He is also leading a Respectful Confrontation one-day training in Amsterdam on April 17 and in Oakland on May first, and offers a 25 dollar discount to RealJock readers. For more info, click here.