From books to playlists and podcasts, movies and dedicated Instagram accounts, motivation is a fleeting feeling that people are constantly trying to capture.
It’s normal to feel discouraged, tired, or overwhelmed at times when working (or starting to work) towards a goal. You’ll most likely face that several times in some area of your personal or professional life, and even hobbies. The important part is that you don’t stay stuck there. It’s easy to fall into a negative pattern. Skip the gym one day, and it’s even easier to skip the next day.
We use a lack of motivation as an excuse to not have to do the work that needs to be done. We say that we lack the motivation to accomplish our dreams or complete that ever-growing pile of work on our desk.
But, guess what? Screw motivation. What to replace it with? Simple.
Do the work.
Do. The. Work.
It’s really, honestly, that simple. Almost too simple, that we try and create complicated mazes and rituals to make us feel like we have already accomplished something before we have ever gotten started.
“Before I start, let me look at the top motivational tips from the experts for this year.”
“XYZ just published a new blog post on how to continue to feel motivated; I should check that out!”
“Oh look, this great Instagram account on mindset focus just posted! I’ll check them out before I start in case I missed something that can help me.”
Before I get up and start working out, I’ll just look up some motivational videos to get me pumped.
Each one of these are fine to partake in and can be beneficial. But after a while, you’ve listened to enough motivational speeches. You’ve read enough quotes. You’ve got the best motivational playlist, and you’ve reread the best books on the subject.
There comes a point where, the motivational help enables you to partake in the very thing you sought to overcome: Procrastination, and/or fear. Most of the time, it’s a mix of both.
Do The Work
“One day won’t matter. I’ll make up for it tomorrow.”
“I’ve got too much work today. Next time.”
But next time never comes. And if it does come, it’s often sporadic, because you reinforced those negative patterns in your brain.
For any extreme sport, 100% of them require you to be working on your skills, physical and mental fitness. Some sports require more than the other – skydiving is requiring extreme mental strength more than physical, while snowboarding and surfing require a high level of fitness and balance, along with the mental toughness to deal with the time when something goes wrong.
The most difficult part is not when you are starting something new, but the step after. It’s easy to get new gym clothes and hit the weights, or start practicing the climbing wall with the goal of becoming a skilled rock climber. But what about the 6th time? Or the 14th? Or two months from now, when the excitement of something new wears off, and you feel like you haven’t improved at all?
We have these images in our mind of a ripped body, or badass rock climbing or BMX skills – the end result of a long, long process, full of ups and downs. We are wonderful at glossing over the hard parts and focusing on the end result – “yeah, it’ll take some time to get good at it, but I have the will to do get through the boring and slow days!”
Do you, really?
Because life’s not a movie – you (most likely) won’t just show up at the gym or practice area, train a bit, have one or two small setbacks then breeze by and win the championship. Whatever sport or skill you are in the process of learning, we can all but guarantee it’ll be a year’s long, if not lifelong, journey.
So, what do you do in those moments when it all feels worthless, and you want to give up?
Plan to Win, & Work to be Better Than Last Time
We’re not here to diss on motivational practices. Sometimes, a motivational speech is exactly what you need to get off the couch and out working on your skills. There are times when that can be exactly what you need to get moving.
But they can be a doubled edged sword: If you spend all your time “getting motivated” you’ll one day realize that you spent more time trying to increase your motivation then you did to build your skillset, getting fit, or whatever your goal is.
In other words, too much of a good thing.
Alright. So once the motivation wears off, and you find yourself regenerating every motivational quote ever quoted, what can you do?
Do the work.
Get off the couch and onto the treadmill.
Don’t have treadmill? Take a walk around your neighborhood once a day, and increase it each day. Oh, it’s raining? Time to use that living room floor as your home workout station.
Spending money on gym membership you don’t use? No more social media, TV or Starbucks until after your workout.
Feel like you are stuck trying to master a new trick on your BMX bike? Make a plan:
Research the trick. Watch and read everything you can about it. Practice. Try new strategies. Practice. And keep practicing, until you get it. Because you can.
At the end of the day, the only thing that will get you from here to there is doing the work. Putting in all the hours, blood and sweat that it takes to go from mediocre to great.
And when the motivation disappears and your willpower is wavering, make sure you turn that negative self talk into positive self talk. This all sounds basic, but those basic foundations are the building blocks of any successful person in the world.
Instead of “I can’t do this, I’m just not good at it, I’ll never be able to get it right,” tell yourself, “it takes grit and determination to go from beginner to great. I belong there. I’m not there yet, but I sure as hell aren’t giving up now. I’m not letting anyone, including myself, or whatever obstacles I’m facing, talk me out of my future. I’m going WIDE OPEN and nothing can stop me.
Once you break free and own your fears, you’ll see that legends aren’t made in the competition or arena, after they win the medals and awards. They were foraged in the day-to-day grind that you are going through right now.
The only difference is, when faced with the same obstacles of pursuing mastery that you are facing right now, the legends said bring it on.
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