On Motivation

Motivation sucks. Or at least, motivation is not as good as people make it out to be. Motivation is fickle, though you need it. It’s an emotion, and emotions can change.

Motivation will get you out of bed early a few days, or ready to try a new diet, or hit the gym in January, or into your studies before a big exam, but it is not lasting. When the going gets tough, motivation often wavers.

Motivation alone will not see you through, especially when you have a chronic illness that will hit you with surprises and disrupt your best efforts.

The first step is motivation

What is better than motivation is a plan. Learn what awaits you in the future and combine your plan with knowledge both of things themselves, and of how to do things. Study and practice whatever it is you are trying to master. Be adaptable, and focus on the long game, not the next step in front of you. Meet your goals by combining discipline with determination. Determination is discipline in action.

Motivation helps with initial stages and taking the first step. Hard work and determination get you the rest of the way.  When stuck, or you hit a plateau, return to your imagination to envision the desired outcome and find your discipline and determination again.

Is motivation the answer?

Athlete’s go through phases of commitment and withdrawal, excitement and disappointment, and wavering motivation. They have doubts, insecurities, bad habits, problems in relationships that can hold them back, or surprising obstacles that they struggle deeply to overcome. In short, though they are extraordinary in one area of life, they are surprisingly ordinary in most others.

The athlete’s secret to pushing through

Somewhere along the way, however, most top athletes have learned one key lesson that makes them excel in their sport. They simply do not give up. With ruthless resilience, they demonstrate determination.

These top athletes work hard, harder than most people can imagine, and yes, they are probably physiologically gifted on the bell curve of inborn characteristics that predispose someone to athleticism, but the trait that stands out most often is their undying commitment to whatever lay ahead. They see where they want to go, imagine it constantly, and plan their steps accordingly.

Determination gets us the rest of the way

Athletes may lose track of where they are going at times, and seem to disappear, but they almost always come back with a deeper and firmer grit. Take Tiger Wood’s comeback to win the Masters when so many had written him off. Or, Shaun White’s comeback to win his third Olympic gold medal in snowboard halfpipe after a near career-ending accident.

Watch the way they celebrate. You can see the deeper meaning of the victory in their eyes. It is not the arrogant posturing of youth getting his or her first taste of victory. No, it is the look of someone who has suffered deeply to get where they are. They gave all of themselves to the task.

It is not motivation that makes people great at what they do, but consistently executed determination through daily discipline. It is punching the clock, and getting the work done. Too many people think that what you need is a burst of motivation. Rather, when things get hard, commitment gets you the rest of the way.

The secret to hitting your goals is not motivation, but the ability to weather the storm and stay committed. It never gets easier, but you do get stronger.

Being determined while living with chronic illness

You may fail at what you set out to do in the first few attempts, just like everyone else does. But keep going, learn, and come back with more grit. Decide that no matter what, you are going to get there, and you will begin to succeed. Motivation will then take a backseat, and you will become determined. There is no shortcut. Motivation is not enough.

Stick to what matters to you

In the face of illness, never give up. Fight until the end. Stick to what you have decided matters to you, and see it through. In so doing, your strength, discipline, and determination will grow as you face new and often increasing challenges.

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