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How to find your 'WHY' to stay motivated

Have you fallen off the wagon since the festivities? Are you struggling to get motivated to train again? Perhaps you’re a professional athlete who finds your motivation to push yourself decreases, when you feel there’s not a realistic chance of changing the race outcome? In this blog, we explore how to stay motivated all year round and throughout your race - yes, it is possible!

What is your why?

The foundation of your motivation is your why. As Simon Sinek, British-American author, motivational speaker and organisational consultant says, ‘Everyone knows what they do, some know how they do it, but very few people know why they do what they do.’. By why, Sinek doesn’t mean winning the race, placing on the podium or achieving a PB - as that’s the result.

Sinek is talking about your purpose, your cause, your reason, your belief. It is these things that will make you get out of bed at 5am in the morning to jump into a freezing cold lake, or to push yourself harder to close that 12-minute lead gap in a race.

If you find you’re lacking motivation for training or to push yourself that much harder, it’s because you don’t why you’re doing what you do - your ‘why’ isn’t powerful enough! #Zone3Facts

Why you run out of motivation

We must have a purpose or a reason to achieve something. When we lose our motivation, this is often because we have forgotten the importance of why we do what we do - our purpose. As Simon Hartley, international sports psychology consultant and performance coach, rightly reminds us too, our why is not static, it changes with time.

A professional athlete may have started competing in triathlon because it was fun, but as it became their career, their motivation to race changed. It’s now about winning, attaining recognition and respect from others. However, is winning the right foundations to build your motivation on? Similarly, is achieving a certain time or placement the best 'why' to have?

If winning, achieving a specific time or raceplacement is your 'why', this is a vulnerable place to be. It’s like building a home with unstable foundations. This is because your reason could disappear and with it, your motivation. What if you’re not experiencing success? What if you’re not winning or hitting your goals? Your reason for racing has gone, will you still feel motivated to train or push yourself even harder?

Tying your ‘why’ into winning and achieving your goals is especially dangerous because often athletes’ enjoyment for the sport is intrinsically linked to hitting PBs and placing on the podium. When these things aren’t happening, they find their motivation dries up with it.

How to build a solid foundation

To have really strong motivation, you need a why - a purpose - that is very strong, resilient and compelling, and it must come from within. Your why cannot be determined by or reply upon outside influences, such as praise, PBs and podium finishes. As Navy SEAL, world-class ultra-athlete and world record holder David Goggins says, you have to want it bad enough, you have to become obsessed with what you want to achieve. Your ‘why’ must make you unstoppable.

Having one strong, resilient and compelling why lays a fairly solid foundation, however, to create the ultimate force that will enable you to stop at nothing until you’ve achieved your goals, you need multiple why’s. A pyramid or tripod of why’s, gives you a very solid foundation. This is because if you lose one why, you have many others to keep you motivated.

Here are some questions that will help you uncover your why’s:

  • What are your reasons for training or competing?
  • Are you truly motivated by the pure love and enjoyment for what you do or has this evolved into something else?
  • If you took away winning, achieving a podium finish or hitting a PB, would this decrease your motivation to compete?
  • If you’re not achieving the success you dreamed of, what would make you keep pushing yourself?
  • What would drive you forward if no one gave you recognition, praise or respect?
  • If you have a lead of 20 minutes, what would keep you racing at the best of your ability?
  • Why is winning and/or hitting your goals important to you?

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