Nietzsche said that “He who has a why to live for, can bear almost any how.” The importance of goal-setting is thrown at us from so many angles that we often take it for granted. There are a lot of great activities that can improve our physical and mental health, but without a “why” we have no reason to push ourselves and reap the rewards of our hardship. Not surprisingly, the things that motivate us most effectively in training are the very same that drive us in every other aspect of our lives; Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose. I first became aware of these years ago when I watched a Ted Talk by Daniel H. Pink entitled “The Puzzle of Motivation”. Though less than twenty minutes in length, the lecture really hit home for me and I promptly bought his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”. Not surprisingly, author and consultant Simon Sinek echoes the same message in “Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action”. Let’s have a look at how you can apply these to your training to bust out of a plateau, keep yourself in the gym, and become the best version of yourself;
Mastery: If you had to a choice of cardio modalities, what your favorite be? I can tell you without hesitation, Brazillian Jiu Jitsu or kickboxing are at the top of my list. My own conditioning program is focused on these two martial arts because I’m obsessed with skillful execution. Focusing on doing things right, reacting to my opponent and setting traps for him is infinitely more fun than Tabata Intervals on an Airdyne, and I’m often just as tired. People naturally want to be good at things, and learning a skill while getting a great workout is the perfect way to stay focused and consistent.
Autonomy: Set goals that put you in the drivers seat. A coach, trainer, or nutritionist might be required to get you where you want to go, but this whole thing has to be your idea. Don’t just drag yourself to the gym because you know that its good for you. In fact, if you hate being in the gym then I don’t see how you can give it your best effort. Don’t be afraid to dream big; run a marathon, fight a charity boxing match, lose a hundred pounds, enter a power
lifting meet. Start going to the gym in pursuit of passion. Put yourself in control. Start at the bottom if you have to. Train smart, and ignore the naysayers.
Purpose: Find your “why”. It is your “why” that pushes you to failure on every sprint. It is your “why” that gets you out of bed at 430am to train. It is your “why” that gets you preparing your meals 3 days in advance. Knowing why is the key to resilience and the mastery of self-discipline. If you find your workouts lagging then stop and rethink why you are there. Really think about it. Once you’ve found purpose in your training then start again.
I encourage everyone to study motivation. It is so often the missing piece that separates disciplined gym-goers from sporadic exercisers. It is the key to unlocking your potential, and ultimate success.