Find something that makes your heart beat faster. It doesn’t have to be the great passion of your life, or anything grandiose, just something that starts a little fire in your soul. It doesn’t have to be running the NYC marathon; it can be completing a local road race, trying ballroom dancing, or taking a road trip to Tofino. For those of us used to lowering our expectations as life’s rough patches and responsibilities have taken over, this small spark of a fire reminds us of our true nature, that feeling we had as kids when we were in our element, and immersed in flow while playing. Do not wait for motivation to miraculously happen: take action and you will create your own motivation. From my own personal life experience at finding passion and setting goals and from coaching others for two decades, here are some things that I have discovered to be helpful in finding motivation and creating joy.
PUT IT IN YOUR HEART
Visualize the end goal, not the details just yet: the wonderful feeling of crossing the finish line, hugging your best friend after the race because you did it together, or the view of the vast Pacific ocean as you come over Pacific Rim Highway after Kennedy Lake. Really lean into how that feels and create an imprint of that raw delight in your heart. This is the engine of your dream and also the back up fuel tank.
MAKE A SPECIFIC GOAL AND SET A PLAN
Make a goal that is clearly stated, achievable, and measurable. Last year I wanted to take a strength training clinic. That was my goal. After years of running, learning how to be strong and getting strong got me excited. I also wanted to train with a coach at a gym, and with a class of people, as I do a lot of training alone. I found a class that worked for me at Victoria Hardstyle Kettlebell Club. I signed up. I had one class a week that I showed up for and I got coached and I followed through. Nothing sexy, but I did exactly what I intended to do. I enjoyed it immensely.
This is where training clinics are great for runners. You can set a goal of running or walking a 10K or a half marathon, and sign up for a running clinic. You will be given a clear break down of week by week training, a clinic night each week with leaders, companions and a plan, and clear measurable short term goals (training sessions) to get you to your overall goal.
HAVE A GOOD LADDER
This can be anything you do that helps you move upwards to your goals. Like climbing rungs on a ladder, this support continually moves you in a positive direction. It can be as simple as setting reminders and filling in your calendar so you have a visual of your steps and your plan. It can be getting the proper equipment, as it was for me in investing in several more kettlebells for my home gym so I could practice effectively between sessions. Maybe it’s getting the unconditional approval from a loved one or your kids, or taking a friend to the clinic so you are accountable to each other.
TURN DOWN THE VOLUME ON "RNV Radio Negative Voice"
Don’t for one second believe in your own BS; the voice that says you can’t, or won’t or that you are too old, slow or not the right shape for whatever your dream is. Our built-in negativity bias can save us from getting hit by a car while crossing the road, but is completely useless when it comes to following up on a dream. There is no perfect. No perfect time to start anything, so ignore the inner critic and do it anyway. Recognize your thoughts as just thoughts and don’t believe everything you think.
EVERY STEP IS PROGRESS
Keep at your goal, by following your plan, and don’t second guess every step of the way (see step above again). One of the biggest hurdles for humans, seems to be expecting massive results each and every day to affirm that they are on the right path. Some days are simply, small steps. In fact, most days are simply, small steps, and it is in remaining calm day by day and doing your own best practice, focusing on the process not the performance that matters. I drew this process out for running training once.
KEEP TAPPING INTO THAT FEELING IN YOUR HEART - IT IS REAL
Keep reminding yourself of the heart feeling from step one. Why you are doing this and how satisfied you will feel at the end of this journey. Visualize this often. This is creating resilience that you will use over and over again.
BE GOOD TO YOURSELF
Find ways to celebrate each step of the way and acknowledge your progress. Let yourself be pleased for accomplishing a session, attending a class, checking off boxes for the week. Even to this day, after thousands of training sessions, I give myself a ‘pat on the back’ for completing as best as I could that day. There will always be what I call the ‘positive failures’. Not reaching a pace time, not lifting the weight in a deadlift, failing to complete reps in a set. The positive failures are part of the progress, and recovering physically and mentally from these are what makes you stronger. And for crying out loud, don't compare your goals, your journey and your life to what you see on social media.
Lucy Smith is a retired professional runner and triathlete, a coach and motivational speaker. She is the Lead Coach for the TC 10k run clinics in Victoria, British Columbia and will be writing weekly articles for the training leading up to the April 26th race.
A little personal story -
Last fall I set myself a goal of competing in a strength challenge called the StrongFirst Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC), which combines scores from a max deadlifts, repetitions of bodyweight pull ups and repetitions of a kettlebell snatch. I finished 4th amongst women over 50. My personal goal for the event was to complete 10 pull ups. I completed 9. Not to be defeated, I kept going after the event and 2 days before Christmas I completed 10 in my garage, with the cheering and support of my 14 year old son!
Writing about the art of moving well and the lived experience of a life in sport.