A few years ago, I decided I was going to run a marathon. I bought a brand new pair of Nikes, loaded my iPod full of great running songs, and mapped out the perfect route around my house. A month later, my Nikes were still pristine, my iPod was collecting dust and that perfect route was gently mocking me every time I left my house. Needless to say, I had the motivation at some point. And then, without any warning at all, it was suddenly gone.
But I’ve learned a thing or two about motivation over the years. And I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. So, here’s what I did to get the excitement back (and keep it) and how you can use these same steps to stay motivated in any endeavor.
1. Know Thyself
The first mistake I made was thinking I could train for this big event on my own. I’m the kind of person who really thrives in a group. I’m a natural teacher’s pet so group programs inspire me to excel and bring out a healthy competitive spirit. Plus, I need support from others who are right there with me, aiming for the same goal. Knowing this about myself, I decided to join Team in Training, an organization that helps train people for endurance events while raising money for Leukemia. With professional trainers and a huge group of like-minded people, I started actually looking forward to our scheduled training sessions.
Pro Tip: Figure out what works best for you and tailor your approach accordingly. If your goal-getting strategy isn’t aligned with who you naturally are, your motivation will sink.
2. Keep It Real
As a non-runner, it was a little overly ambitious to set out with the goal of running a marathon. My motivation waned almost immediately because it seemed like such a stretch from where I was. When I started, I couldn’t run a mile without getting seriously winded. So I scaled it back a bit and focused on a half-marathon event instead. This made the whole idea much less intimidating and the prospect of achieving my goal much more realistic, and my motivation soared.
Pro Tip: Remember the ever-important “R” in SMART goals. Yes, stretching yourself is a good thing. But, when a goal feels impossible, motivation is hard to come by.
3. Take Responsibility
Ultimately, even though I was on a team running with a group of other non-runner people, I was the only one responsible for my success or failure in this goal. I was the one who had to deal with the aches and pains after a long run. I was the one who had to wake up early in the morning to hit the track for training. And, as I ran those intense 13.1 miles, it was my voice I heard most loudly, cheering me on. No one else could have pushed me as hard as I was willing to push myself. When I crossed that finish line, I knew my team had encouraged me, but it was still MY win. I had held myself accountable for reaching this goal, and I took the necessary steps to ensure I found my motivation and kept it right through to the end.
Pro Tip: Own your goals. No one else should care about your motivation more that you do. This is your gig, so stop looking to others to keep you on-track.
Recommended Reading: Career Success A to Z: S is for Self-Motivation