Like happiness, motivation needs to come from inside.
The most successful people are intrinsically motivated. Successful people posses an inner drive, they push themselves to set big goals and take the steps (or risks) necessary to accomplish those goals.
I am currently reading The Perfect Mile by Neal Bascomb, a story that focuses on three men’s goal to break the 4-minute mile barrier in the early 1950’s. Each of these men: Wes Santee, John Landy, and Roger Bannister were incredibly self-motivated. They each trained for hours by themselves in less-than-ideal conditions. No one made them do it, in fact most people had accepted that a sub-4 minute mile couldn’t be done. So the men each pushed themselves to achieve an “impossible” goal.
John Landy and Roger Bannister were self-coaching during this time: “Bannister trained alone and without coaching, convinced that he alone could get the best out of himself.” (Chapter 7). They both had to make room in their busy schedules to train, for example, Landy only found time to train at 11p.m. or midnight! During the day he attended college courses, and could only train after he finished with his homework. He crept out of his house into the dark, without anyone’s knowledge. It would have been easy for him to make excuses for skipping a workout, but he never missed one.
“Regardless of weather, sore tendons, blistered feet or fatigues muscles, Landy trained like this religiously. It was the stringing together of session after session, without compromise of effort, that most tested his discipline.
“He was the sole master of of how well he ran the mile. And the harder he trained, the more control he had over his body to dictate this performance.” (Chapter 6)
Landy was quoted as saying, “I just go out there and work. I’ve got to punish myself to get anywhere.”
The bottom line is: you need to be able to rely on yourself to accomplish your dreams. External motivation alone will not produce consistent results. However, if the will to succeed is coming from within then external cues can be immensely helpful. An example of this: You are scheduled to run a 10 miler in the morning. You make plans with a friend to run the workout together, but at the last minute your friend can’t make it. What would you do? That is where being internally vs. externally motivated makes the difference. Without a buddy (coach, personal trainer, teacher, etc.) there an externally motivated person might not do the workout, after all no one would know. An internally motivated person however, wouldn’t mind because he or she was going to complete the workout no matter what.
Internal motivation results in consistency and discipline, which over time leads to success!
I firmly believe that personal internal motivation can be created. I practice this in my everyday life, I have a “Motivation Board” which has morphed into a motivation wall! I write down inspirational quotes or tough-mantras. I hang my bib numbers and awards I am most proud of. I see it everyday and it continually reinforces my focus.
I have also created an environment that is conducive to my goals. I have healthy friends and key people in my life who help me with my running. No one will drag me down with toxicity or negative habits! I keep healthy food in my fridge, I pack my meals ahead of time, I read books about running and health, I watch exciting and inspirational video clips about running. I follow my heroes in running and diet on social media. I try to take in as many positive and motivational cues from my environment as I can.
Remember: What you focus on grows! No one can feel motivated and happy 100% of the time, I certainly don’t. But realize that you have the power to change your feelings. No thing, person, or place can make you feel a certain way. You can always choose to feel differently. Know that you have that power inside you. You are strong and brave and in control, now simply unlock what’s already there.