Motivation is often considered one of the foundations to achieving our goals in sport and life. However, whether it be the COVID-19 pandemic or the stressors of daily life, performers in every arena struggle with how to stay motivated during long periods of training or difficult times. But what if we told you that rather than harping on controlling your motivation, we actually could see more benefits for us individually if we focused more on increasing our commitment? Check out the three main reasons to change the narrative in your training from worrying about staying motivated, to fueling your commitment.
Motivation is based on feelings, while commitment is based on values. – Whether we feel motivated or not is just that – a feeling. Our feeling of motivation may get us started and on the right track, but we may not get very far because our feelings change by the hour or even by the minute. We can’t always control the feelings we have towards something and therefore can’t always control our motivation, but what we can control is how we respond to those feelings. Feelings won’t change the circumstances of your life, but commitment can. Commitment is action based. Rather than feelings, actions are what drive change.
Committing to action. – Whether you are motivated or not, committing to action will get you to where you want to go. Try starting each day asking yourself, “What are three commitments I am able to make today?” Then, you can put your head on your pillow that night knowing you committed to and accomplished those three things. This deliberate and consistent action is what fuels progress and builds confidence. In turn, you may even be more motivated to complete the commitments you make.
But what about your “Why?” – We want to be clear that motivation is not all for naught. Motivation can be used to develop the habits you need to achieve your goals. However, whether motivated or not on any given day or in any moment, you need to develop a structure that will make you perform the actions that will lead you to success each day. A lot of times when teaching or talking about motivation, many people turn to the “why” behind what they are doing. For example, by finding your “why,” such as training in the offseason not just because you want to win the conference championship but more because you love the feeling that playing fuels you with, you will be more internally motivated (what we call intrinsic motivation). We can’t deny that finding your “why” behind doing something is a great tool to spark your motivation. However, our “why” is only what guides us, but not necessarily what gets us doing something different to get to where we want to go. Even the most intrinsically motivated athletes who know their “why” struggle to stay motivated at times. If our “why” is our compass, commitment is what gets our feet moving in the right direction towards our goals.