In perusing the blogosphere, I’ve noticed a number of posts about motivation. Some make me smile. Some make me frustrated. All make me think and add my own two cents to the motivation conversation. Routinely, people ask in wonder how I find the energy, time and desire for endurance sports. They marvel at my training log. They wistfully wonder how I fit it all in or take jaded jabs at what surely is my lack of any life outside of my sport.
So as questions about motivation pop up around me, I decided to take some to think about what motivates me. Here is my incomplete list:
Lifestyle: Endurance sports is a lifestyle for me. I love being active. I love the challenge of training and racing. I love seeing my body get stronger and faster. I love the competition, the learning curve, and all the intangibles that accompany a life of swimming, biking and running. This just feels right for me. It’s where I find peace and joy and laughter and release. This is how I choose to spend the bulk of my time.
Friendships: There are mornings when I just don’t feel in the mood for training, but almost always one of my good friends is waiting for me. This gets me out the door and once we begin our workout, I feel fantastic. But our friendships are not just about training. We talk about everything. My friends understand and support me, offering me love and comfort when I need it and swift kick in the pants when I’m whining for no reason other than habit.
Rivalries: To a lesser degree than friendships, there are those people whom I just want to beat. Or whom I want to show how much I’ve improved. This motivation, quite frankly, does not showcase my better angels. It’s one I use rarely, because it’s power for good can quickly be co-opted by forces akin to the Legion of Doom. But when gutting out that last interval, sometimes, it’s helpful to think of the person you most want to be jealous of your success. At least for those few seconds of all-out, lung-busting, pain.
Choice and Opportunity: I use these words a lot in blogs, because they are central to who I am and who I want to become. We’re always evolving and changing (even if you think you’re stuck in the same place). Hence, we always have opportunities to choose. We really can do what we want. It’s all about what we believe is possible. And everything in life is a choice, including things like happiness and, oh, feeling motivated. Remembering that I get to choose what I want each and every day is a key source of motivation for me.
Listening to my body: When feeling a lack of motivation, I ask myself what’s going on. Perhaps my body needs a rest and this onslaught of malaise is a sign to slow down. Perhaps other things need attention, like my writing or reading or work or relationships or house cleaning. My body is constantly giving me feedback to what it needs right now. All I have to do is pay attention.
Rewards: Yes, as intrinsic as I would like my motivation to be, sometimes the promise of a nice treat gets the job done. It might be as simple as telling myself I’ll have a handful of pretzel M&Ms after an hour’s worth of writing and editing. It may be purchasing a new piece of clothing after completing a project in time. I’m not so much working for the reward as I am for the celebration. Semantics? Probably. But how you frame the situation can completely change the way it looks and feels to you.
How do you find motivation? What does it look like to you?