This week I am going to discuss motivation - something many understandably struggle with, as the chaos in the world continues and certainty over races remains murky. How does one carry on charging when motivation isn’t bubbling at a high level? Let’s chart a path and find solutions.
Before I dig into my coaching thoughts, I have two quick aids to support motivation, if you are currently struggling:
- This week’s podcast - Bob Babbitt - as I feel it is unmissable. When you listen to this, I cannot imagine how you can fail to stoke the fire of motivation and perspective. It is one of my favorite episodes ever, and it was so special to turn the tables on Bob to interview him. His stories and perspective will light your fire.
- The Performance Reset. I will say this to Purple Patch athletes - every single one of you - if you are not planning to sign up, then I think you're bonkers! It is going to be the most inspirational (and educational) experiences I could imagine. As I am deeply immersed with the planning of each of the sessions with each guest, I am energized and invigorated for the future on a daily basis. I honestly think this is unmissable, and with all sessions being recorded and accessible post event, I am struggling to find a reason not to jump in. A personal promise: if you don’t find motivation and perspective leaving this event, you can blame me personally!
Okay. Now let’s get practical:
How do we charge on with the process of performance, despite lagging motivation?
I think the first aspect for you to recognize when this happens is that your situation is both completely normal, and almost universal. I haven’t met an athlete that doesn’t fall into periods of despair and waning passion. This is, naturally, more common in 2020. I haven’t met a single person in 2020 who hasn’t struggled in some way. This year has rocked the foundation and destabilized many aspects of life.
But we navigate and look ahead - and we keep friggin' going.
With this said, there are some practical things that might help you do that.
Here they are - your motivation toolkit:
- Give yourself space not to chase: You don’t need to make your training a grind, you don’t even need to be improving and driving forward. Occasionally, allowing some of the training to be focused on a tilt toward soul-filling and as habitual as brushing teeth is appropriate. Don’t underestimate the benefit of not falling into decline - we can even label this as progress is some cases. So remove the emotional burden of the whole process for a few weeks, but do not go random. Random is a promise of decline across all aspects.
- Reconnect with purpose: This week I was chatting with Justin Forsett, former NFL player for the Seahawks, Ravens and more. The focus of the discussion was ‘purpose’. He amplified the absolute need for any person to find a purpose in their quest - well beyond finish lines, Superbowls or qualifications. After growing up in great poverty and adversity, his quest was to reach personal excellence and to help others find access to sport. It is important to use times of lower motivation to reconnect with your why. Why did you get into sport, what does it provide, who do you help when you accomplish things? You will soon ignite your motivation with a connection of purpose. (And yes, Justin will be sharing his thoughts at Performance Reset.)
- Nail the fundamentals (what do I say? Oh yes, Nail the Basics): Don’t try to do all things you possibly do in times of challenge, focus on the big boulders and fundamentals. Remove the metrics, assessment, and complexity. Focus on simplicity and repeatability, and you will see progress. Simplicity is king. I repeat, simplicity is king. Motivation won’t be found in the dark corners of quackery, quick fixes or fad diets.
- Shift the mindset to preparatory: This is the perfect time for a reset - and you can lean into the long lens by shifting your approach to being preparatory. You have a couple of months ahead that can be lower emotional load, but high value. Focus on developing technical elements, tissue resilience, strength and mobility and more. All of this demands less cognitive load and specificity of training - with greater capacity for free and fun adventurous training. Build the platform, with a commitment to turning up the dials as you drift into the new year.
- Find a goal that is a little scary and daunting: Don’t just pick something boring and random. How about you take the coming month or so to explore challenges and goals that create a blend of something fresh, new, challenging - and even creates real anxiety about your capacity for success? It needs to be at least a few months out, if not more, but a serious lightning rod of challenge can catapult focus and ignite motivation quite quickly.
- Be loud and proud: Seek accountability! Yes, with a lofty goal in hand, it is preferable to share it with a few friends - or even the Purple Patch community. Ask for accountability and support. You might be intimidated by the goal, but you can begin first (and unrushed) steps toward it. Even better will be to bring others along - who else do you know who might share the goal and go on the journey with you? It is the journey that will become the enjoyable part of the process, and it is better shared every time.
- Inspire someone else. Yes, I am here to tell you that this journey isn’t - as much as you would love it to be - all about you! Joking aside, there is great power and satisfaction in reaching out and helping overs. Look around, your friends, family, associates. Who is struggling? Engage them, help them, provide inspiration and accountability. This isn’t a time to nurture their struggles, it is a time to help them get on track with action. It will help them, but is sure to ignite you.
- Share your journey: Have you seen some of the stories people are posting on the Purple Patch Facebook page? These folks are not attention seeking or ego-driven. It is fueling their soul and motivation to share the adversity, success, and adventure. It helps. Community and a shared experience helps - and while this is tougher now, it is worth leaning into it.
So there you have it, my toolkit of motivation. I use toolkit deliberately, as you do not need to deploy all of these to find the spark. It might be one, or two, but lean into what resonates and keep looking forward.
It isn’t about how the last months have been, nor where you are at currently. It is where you want to go.
Focus on everything in front of the ears!
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