But something happened a few weeks ago to make me work hard at finding my own motivation, especially motivation to return to a high level of fitness after fracturing my rib. I had been feeling pretty sore and somewhat lazy with my rib and sometimes even just breathing was difficult. When I received an invitation from Nike to participate in the Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco in October. Pre-injury I would have jumped at this chance, I completed the Gold Coast Airport Half Marathon last year for charity and really enjoyed the experience – but his time the fears and doubts about my fitness and ability reared up. I had to find a way to get motivated again… and this is what I realised …
Motivation doesn't tangibly exist. It can’t be bought or taken from others, nor can it be shared with or gifted to us by others. Ultimately we can’t motivate anyone else because everything we need to motivate as an individual lies within ourselves.
The power to motivate me
lies within ME.
Motivation has quite a few elements and the recipe or instructions for balancing these elements in the right quantities is different every time for every individual. The building blocks of motivation are often fear or intense desire and the biggest struggle to find and build motivation therefore goes on in our own mind. While sometimes we can be our own worst saboteurs, we can also be our own experts and greatest supporters. The three tools we need to build this creation called “motivation” are confidence, focus and direction.
We need to start with
If we are thinking in terms of fear, we need to turn that around and reframe that negative into a positive. We can get so stuck on the NOT wanting things – and that is not a problem in itself, because there is no action or activity associated with NOT wanting. It’s just that fear and NOT wanting keeps us from ever doing anything or achieving anything.
· keeps us unmotivated – because a goal to NOT do something can never be acted upon
· zaps our energy and is so emotionally, physically and mentally exhausting
Change the fear you feel and turn it into something you desire, a positive Eg “I don’t want to fail my exams” can be reframed as “I want to pass my exams”. And then the planning can begin, where you identify and plan the little concrete steps needed to make your goal a reality. The goal is what you WANT to achieve and the steps are what you have to DO to get there.
Just focus on one goal and just one or a few steps at a time. There is nothing more disheartening and overwhelming with a list that seems never ending. Maybe divide the steps into little groups and approach one group at a time letting you feel a sense of achievement more often as you can tick off a step or group of steps often and regularly.
Make sure you include some steps or activities that are fun and that you can look forward to. The more enjoyable it is, the more you will do it and go out of your way to make sure you do it. And the more you do it, the better you will get at it, and the sooner you will reach your goals. (This is starting to sound like motivation now isn’t it). Make sure you are flexible enough to change and moderate the steps as you go if you find a more enjoyable or effective alternative.
Reading and research about other’s journeys or stories can help improve your focus and ultimately your motivation. It starts you thinking and believing that logically, YOU CAN DO THIS TOO! Or it might bring out the competitor in you and you become more determined to take on the challenge. Reward yourself too remember – not for achieving the goal but at checkpoints along the way for your effort and commitment.
BUILDING UP YOUR CONFIDENCE
Be that “glass half full” sort of person, not the glass half-empty mindset. Look for the good things in every day, the good things around you, and the good things and difficult things you have done. Keep a list of all these things you have achieved and look back at it as you add to it every day ! Here is the evidence that you CAN when you have doubts, lack confidence and feel you can’t.
Reading and researching also helps build confidence as does sourcing help and support from those around you. Surround yourself with positive vibes and people that encourage your enthusiasm and confidence. (Note: Don’t expect these people to provide you with your motivation, but it is more than okay to deliberately surround yourself by other positive and uplifting individuals – remember; moods are often contagious! If you spend time around other positive people, you will then be able to be that same external source of positivity and happiness to others! ..and the chain goes on!) Sometimes the doubters can help push your will to succeed and prove them wrong – remember you can choose who you want to be around and whose opinion you value. Again remember to start small simple and achievable to boost your enthusiasm and the positive feedback you will be creating for yourself. A good flexible strategy is on difficult days (eg days you are ill) you can choose an emergency step which actually factors in a day of rest or relaxation to rejuvenate and heal you and re-energise you for the effort ahead.
Each day visualise exactly what it will feel like when you achieve your goal – almost what you will be able to feel and sense, smell, see, taste, hear and touch. It’s almost like imagining how a dream would end where you achieve your goal.
KEEP GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Keep your goal interesting – there is a risk of becoming bored so keep your goal alive by growing and changing with it. Add in new elements, switch things around a little, find ways to stimulate your senses and the “pleasure centre” of your brain while putting in the hard work and effort. Stick up some motivational pictures and sayings, or write yourself little congratulatory notes and leave them in odd or unexpected places. Remind yourself that you ARE doing this and you ARE making progress.
Review and refine your plan and the steps in it. If things aren’t working, or not working as quickly as you thought, or not fitting in to your current lifestyle and commitments, switch it around, tweak things, or go and do a bit more research and information gathering to see what others are doing. Get some fresh ideas and build that enthusiasm and motivation to try something new. Refocus on just one step for a while to build that sense of self-efficacy.
Get people around that support you and believe in you, and/or those that are trying to climb the same mountains as you. Share your journey and feel the weight lift a little. Challenge yourself in a more public way. ie tell others what you are doing so that you feel more accountable and more inclined to stick with it on the difficult days. And accept that you will inevitably have difficult days and setbacks. These are normal, good and to be expected. There is that Japanese proverb that says “Fall down seven times, stand back up eight” or one by Ralph Waldo Emerson “Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall”. Have a little moan and groan to yourself when you hit an obstacle, then shake it off and keep in mind that the setback today does not control tomorrow.
And one of the best things to do is record your progress in a tangible way. Keep a daily list or log of steps you participated in, record your effort (give it a rating out of ten) and how that effort made you feel. Take daily photos of you participating in and working toward your goal. Keep a journal, or dedicate a notes page in your phone to jotting down your progress. There are actually some free Apps for keeping a journal on your iphone or iPad (something like Private Journal or Diary Mobile plus there are lots of others available to look at). Take the time to regularly look back and notice the effort you have actually put in and the progress you have made.
So then I had to apply all this theory and advice to my own situation and identify my fears and goals and come up with a plan.
Identifying the fear that was holding me back:-the vicious doubt that I would be even fit enough to finish the race
Reframe it as a “can do” rather than a “don’t” or “can’t”:- My goal became to finish a half marathon (whether it be run, walk, dance, roll or crawl!) and get to re-experience that relief and elation at completing something so enormous and challenging.
Then the plan:- I charted out all the options I had to return to fitness and graded it in such a way to build back up my fitness rather than crash and burn before I had even begun. I factored in a couple of rewards for my effort and commitment and got underway. Preparation hasn’t been that great – real life tends to get in the way a bit, but I have modified and compromised and reviewed my plan and steps along the way. I hit an obstacle in that my planned reward (some new Nike runners to give me a bit of an emotional boost) hasn’t arrived yet – but I remain confident and optimistic.
Regardless, I am getting excited as I will be running and aiming to complete a half marathon next Sunday! I look forward to that feeling of knowing I have put in my best effort, regardless of the outcome. And I am incredibly excited about the experience; people, scenery, a foreign land beneath my feet and the reward of doing something I know is not an easy feat!
Love and light,