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This Post Will Motivate You!

That’s a misleading title as always but I always struggle with naming the posts.

Have you ever asked anyone how they feel, and instead of answering hungry, or angry, or excited, they answered “I feel motivated”?

I ask people how they feel about things a lot, it’s sort of a part of my job. Occasionally, I have to assess the people I teach and coach and part of that is discovering how they are reacting to training emotionally, or how they feel about training in general. I probably ask people how they feel more than most jobs. I can’t recall anyone ever telling me they feel motivated.

Let’s take a hard training session, because this is what I’m talking about. Maybe they might say, “I’m looking forward to it”, or they might say “I’m excited about doing it”, or the more enthusiastic might say “let’s get it on” or something like that. They may also say “I’m dreading it” or they may say “I’m just not up for it at all today”, or “I’m exhausted”.

I’m writing this because last week someone said “I just don’t feel motivated today”. I’m a smart arse so I answered “I feel a bit sandwich myself”. There followed a brief discussion on why I can’t just give a straight answer and why I have to always be a smart arse. But I had a serious point. Motivation isn’t an emotion. It’s not a feeling. You don’t feel motivated to eat a sandwich, you just feel hungry. The hunger provides the motivation- the impetus- for you to get up and make the sandwich, no matter how tired or comfy you are. You also don’t feel motivated to come to training. Your motivation isn’t the act itself, your motivation is the pursuit of something else- a goal, a medal, a feeling. I don’t know what that is for you, fill in the blank yourself. I’m not doing everything for you here.

I wrote about this before on this blog, and I’m not motivated (haw haw) to look up what I said, but I think it was about motivational memes and images on social media. I think the way that the term Motivation is used in the vernacular is potentially damaging. I know people mean well when they post up motivational quotes, but most of them are completely meaningless and wash off the reader before they’ve even finished scrolling by. I’ve often wondered if there are people sitting at home, with their gym bag packed, scrolling through their phone waiting for the right quote to pop up.

“Wait! Will Smith said that? Wow! That’s me going to the gym tonight so…”

Most days, and I say this as a guy who trains 6 days a week, I do not want to train. Most days I want to sit down in a very comfortable chair. Most days I feel like my body needs a few weeks off. Some days, probably about 2 days out of 6, I’m keen to get on the mats and train, I’m want to try something new I saw, or I made a mistake and I want to get back on the mats and correct it. And about 1 day in 15 or 20, I’m itching to train, really excited. Worse again are the long periods of disinterest. Sometimes weeks at a time, where I dislike training.

WHAT! I hear you scream, you are a coach and you dislike training?

Yes. For certain periods of time during my career I have disliked training. I’ve been pissed off going to the gym, I’ve felt like staying at home, I’ve been irritated by lack of progress, and on several occasions, I’ve wondered if anyone would like to come and take over coaching for me so I can just go do something else. These have lasted anything from 2 weeks to several months. I’m sure there are guys out there who have been 100% motivated the whole time they’ve been training and coaching, and have maintained enthusiasm throughout, but I’d say they’re in a very tiny minority. You have ups and downs in every career, in every relationship, and in all walks of life. Training is no different.

But I train regardless of which way I feel. Call it experience, or call it habit, but I just get on with it. I also know through experience that no matter how tired I am, I’ll feel much better after training than if I’d taken a break. And I also know that even in the lowest ebbs, the tide will turn and soon I’ll want the metaphorical sandwich again. I’d regret not fighting my way through the bad period once I got that hunger back.

To be perfectly clear, I have NEVER thought this through until the last few seconds, but I am Motivated, I suppose, by continuous self improvement, and the fact that I enjoy training very much, particularly during and after I do it. This doesn’t change on account of any particular feeling of tiredness or disinterest I have on any given day. So, if I’m to carry this thought on to it’s logical conclusion, motivation is a bit like the concept of sandwiches in general, and my day to day feelings about training are a bit like the fillings. Some days you’re honey roasted ham, some days you’re an Easi Single.

So I suppose my convoluted and extremely circuitous point is that you shouldn’t wait to feel motivated to do something that deep down you know you want to do. Ignore the emotional milieu and do it because it’s the thing that you do.

I’m done. See you on the mat!

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