Sorry, Motivation isn’t coming

Sorry to have to tell you. Motivation is not coming.

But you haven’t been stood up. Check your phone. You forgot to send the invite!

OK, you’re still reading which means you survived the cringeworthy opening two lines. Use the cringe, use it to remind you about the following lesson:

Motivation = Action = Results (BAD)

Action = Results = Motivation = Action (GOOD)

Get it? In a few words, motivation won’t just come to you. The best way to get motivated to achieve something, is to just act on it. Start doing it and the process of doing it will yield small results. Small results are motivating as ****. And then you use that motivation for more action. 

There’s so much power in this equation. Let’s unpack it.

Regularly, we wait for motivation to strike before we start working on our goals. But for real progress, we need to break this cycle. It’s harmful. Motivation comes when we are not ready for it, and therefore we’re likely to not be able to act on it. 

Think about this for a second. You’re having dinner with an inspirational mate, he/she motivates you to get started on that project you’ve been avoiding. But then you find yourself not as ready to change your life the next morning? Or, have you ever been listening to a podcast while travelling only to realise that doing that workout Joe Rogan just described is not very practical on the side of the highway?

It’s not uncommon to have motivation burst into your conscious mind when you’re not in a position to act on it. How many times has the desire to act on your goals hit you when you are at home with nothing to do? This NEVER happens to me or my friends. If it does happen to you, harness that horse and ride it bareback into the sunset!

Instead, take control of your motivational bursts by just simply acting. Do something and see if the motivation comes afterwards. This also helps us with a critical element of completing a goal: consistency.

Waiting for motivation isn’t a clever way to get consistency. Take it from someone who can do this:

“This gymnastics strength training has taught me more than anything: you know what, you just have to plug away at it. It’s not an eight week program. It’s not a 12-week, get fit program. Or a ‘12-week get your handstand program’. You knuckle down and you turn up each week and eventually you’ll be rewarded with that flexibility or that skill.”

That’s Jemma, one of my coaches at a gymnastics gym I’m playing at nearly every day, called Falsegrip. She used to be a gun in watersports like ocean swimming and surf life saving. A bit over three years ago, her focus shifted to gymnastics strength training. And now she can do cool stuff like this:

She recognised that she needed consistency to achieve a pancake three years ago.

“Matt Jones and I, he still trains there now, it was April and we said ‘we’re going to stretch everyday and July 1, we’re going to have that pancake.  And that was about, I think we gave ourselves 12-weeks,” she said.

But as she found out, consistency wasn’t enough on its own. 

“Looking back on that now – that was never going to happen. You’re not going to go from nothing, to having that level of flexibility in 12-weeks,” Jemma said.

The lesson here is: alongside consistency, we need to find patience in our practice. Patience is not natural because as Jemma points out, we look at people online and we want to do what they can do, but we forget the hours that go into getting there.

“It’s like that microwave mentality – you want something now. Do you know what I mean? You put it in and you get it now. It’s a sport where you don’t get that.”

And neither is taekwondo. Kicking with precision and power, achieving 540 kicks, flying and spinning tricks, we need patience in our practice. Jemma agrees.

“That chin-up will come when it comes, I will touch my toes when I can touch my toes. I’m just prepared to turn-up and enjoy that journey.”

Ah, can you feel it? The pressure is off.

What is the benefit of sticking at something for long enough to get to the level of strength and skill that Jemma has achieved?

Well apart from the cool party tricks, there is a certain level of confidence that comes from sustained dedication. To be able to move your body in ways only possible after hours of commitment breeds confidence. It also gives you a practice to go to when you need to clear your head. There’s nothing like kicking a bag after a tough day to get a fresh perspective.

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