Wake Up To The Power Of One
Maintaining Motivation like One of the Greats
Achieving great things in athletics takes a lot, including practice, acquiring new skills, and grueling training sessions — sometimes for hours at a time, multiple times a day. In short, the amount of effort, time, and dedication required to reach the pinnacle of athletic success are immense. The world’s elite athletes are individuals who dedicate their entire lives to achieving the highest levels of physical and mental performance in their chosen sport. None of it would be achieved if they weren’t motivated to an almost unfathomable degree. Want to know how they stay motivated to push themselves to greatness? This is the blog post for you.
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.”
— Billie Jean King
Here’s 10 ways to stay motivated like one of the greats.
1. Set Goals.
This one is fairly obvious. Setting clear and achievable goals is essential for any athlete at any level, but especially for elite athletes. As a high-level performer, you need to challenge yourself to improve constantly, and setting those elevated goals again and again, will help get you there. By setting clear goals, athletes can maintain their focus and keep their eye on the prize, ultimately maintaining motivation.
When it comes to goal setting, it’s usually helpful to go back to the basics. Here’s a brief Goal Setting 101:
Goals should be SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Shorter goals will allow you to celebrate more (which is essential for that winner mentality) and have a more timely measurement for success, while long-term goals keep you going. The clearer the goal, the more you’ll have a sense of purpose, direction, and — you guessed it — motivation. If you set goals and still aren’t seeing the results you want, make sure you aren’t making these five basic mistakes that could be holding you back.
2. Find Your Inspiration.
Whether you’re inspired by the achievements of your peers, coaches, or idols or have another reason for playing and working as hard as you do, finding your inspiration or your “why” will get you on the field, in the pool, or on the track, even on days you don’t feel like it. Every elite athlete has their own reasons. Maybe watching others achieve a high-level kicks you into gear, or having a mantra in the form of a motivational quote keeps you going. Whatever the source of your inspiration, it will keep you motivated and driven to push to be the best. Find your motivation, find your inspiration, find your why and keep going. Dream. Defy. Deliver.
Here’s a YouTube video of Kobe Bryant talking about watching some of his heroes perform and then asking himself how they did it and how he could do it too.
3. Practice Visualization and Mindfulness.
Mental visualization is a powerful technique that many elite athletes use to maintain motivation. It involves picturing yourself achieving your goals and performing to the absolute best of your ability — maybe even beyond it. Mental visualization can help athletes stay focused and positive, even when encountering setbacks, challenges, and frustrations like athletic plateaus. Not only can mastering your emotions boost performance but imagining yourself achieving your goals can create a sense of urgency and motivation to keep pushing. If you’re skeptical about introducing mindfulness and visualization into your training regime, check out this blog post on how mindfulness will level up your game.
4. Find Support.
For many, the idea of letting someone down can be extremely motivating. However, that’s not why we suggest squadding up! Even elite athletes can’t achieve greatness alone. They need a strong support system to help them stay motivated and focused. The support system of an athlete can include coaches, trainers, family members, nutritionists, friends, and even live-in chefs! High-level achievement in sports can be highly emotional, so while your coach and trainers can give a lot of guidance, feedback, and motivation to reach your physical and performance goals, friends and family can offer emotional support, encouragement, and motivation when you’re feeling down or facing challenges. Plus, if you have buddies to train with, as we suggest for first-time triathletes, you have an accountability factor to someone other than yourself that will get you out the door and to the gym. A strong support system can help athletes maintain motivation and stay on track, even when things get tough.
5. Take Breaks and Rest Days.
Elite athletes need to push themselves to the limit to achieve their goals, but they also need to take breaks and rest. Rest is essential for recovery and allows the body and mind to recharge. It also helps prevent burnout, which is a common problem when pursuing peak performance at a high level! NBA legend, Bill Russel, wrote about how he would often take breaks when he wasn’t entirely motivated. Taking breaks helps maintain motivation by preventing fatigue, reducing stress, and providing a sense of balance. Plus, burnout can put a hitch in your training if you end up too sick or injured to train at all. As always, the Law of Compound Gains dictates that any day in the gym will add up to an overall positive versus forced days away.
6. Stay Positive and Optimistic.
Maintaining a positive attitude is crucial for elite athletes. A positive mindset can help you stay motivated, even when you experience setbacks or failures. It also lets you stay focused on your goals and maintain a sense of purpose. Elite athletes often practice positive self-talk, which involves using affirmations and positive statements to reinforce their beliefs about their performance, abilities, and goal achievement. If you believe you can achieve something, you’ll be significantly more motivated to go out and prove it. Positive thinking can help overcome obstacles and means you can bounce back more quickly from bad sessions or performances and reframe failure as learning and motivation to keep going. They also focus on the things they can control rather than worrying about the things they can’t. Mental resilience, determination, and commitment are all key elements to staying motivated and achieving greatness, and they are significantly impacted by your outlook on life.
7. Get Into Routine.
Discipline is a major part of motivation. The more disciplined you are, the more you’ll be able to turn your training into part of your routine and the closer you’ll get to achieving your goals. Plus, when it’s part of your routine, you don’t even have to think about doing the work — It will already be planned and accounted for in your day. Think about your routine or maybe a habit. Do you think about doing it, or do you just do it? Chances are, just you do it. By adding training, mindfulness, or some other tool that leads you toward your goal into your routine, you think less about it, don’t drag your feet, and find yourself just doing it. Not only does it maintain your motivation, but it maintains your willpower to make other choices throughout the day that lead you toward your goal.
8. Don’t Focus ONLY on the Result.
This TED talk from Janne Mortensen focuses on how to take talented youth and turn them into elite athletes. Her main focus? Don’t make everything about the results. While winning can be an excellent motivator and goal, it can’t be the only thing that gets you to the court every day. Plus, when we only focus on the results, we create a fixed mindset that they are the only thing that matters. This negates the athlete themselves, how they feel, and what their experience is or has been. You don’t get to celebrate the small victories, and you miss out or lose the joy in the process of becoming great. A fixed mindset also doesn’t include all of the elements that are out of an athlete’s control that could affect performance, like the weather, meaning if you don’t pull the results you want — even if it was out of your control — you’re going to be exceptionally hard on yourself. Only focusing on the results adds an incredible amount of pressure to what are often already high-stress situations.
9. Love it for YOU.
One of the biggest motivators is enjoyment. Do you LOVE your sport? Do you have fun when you play, or has it changed to only being about winning and performing? When an activity goes from being joyful to being work for reasons you may not really care about anymore, you will not be motivated to do it. That’s where intrinsic or autonomous motivation comes in. This is “motivation to perform an action based on one’s self-interest or enjoyment.” While your motivator doesn’t have to be joy over money, success, fame, or whatever, it will be easier for you if it’s something you’re just inherently ready to take on. If you can’t bring yourself to love the grind, then there is also a lot of power in accepting the grind as part of what it takes to achieve your goals (think David Goggins). However, if you can see the training and practices as stepping stones to getting you there, you’ll be motivated to do that part, too.
10. Hone Your Work Ethic.
Of course, none of the greatest athletes of our time got to where they were without working hard, long, and constantly for it. One of the most crucial aspects of motivation is your work ethic. As we wrote in a previous blog, we all have 24 hours in a day — It’s what you do with those hours that will make you great. A lot of what determines your work ethic is your attitude. If you have a growth mindset that grants you the permission to see yourself as a winner and know you can get there, you’ll be motivated to work for it day-in and day-out. Need inspiration surrounding work ethic? Look to none other than Kobe Bryant.
Maintaining motivation in the face of adversity isn’t easy, but it’s crucial for any athlete striving to become one of the greats. By taking these tips out of top athletes’ playbooks, you’ll want to keep going, even when the going gets tough. By staying positive, setting goals, focusing on each step of the way (rather than just the end result), having compassion for yourself, and keeping great company who will support and empower you, you’ll get up (most days) motivated to take on the world and achieve those peak performance goals. As always, gearing up with the right equipment can also get you training, so check out the DRYWORLD Shop to gear up with stuff that will make you hit the ground running.
“It’s not the will to win that matters — everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” — Paul “Bear” Bryant
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