Motivation is key to achieving many things in life. Sometimes, the motivation comes easily, but sometimes you have to search deep within you to find it. Having boundless amounts of motivation is common for things we enjoy, or when we really want the end result we are working towards. However, sometimes we hit stumbling blocks that knock our motivation and it can take some time and a lot of effort to find it again. This, of course, is common in sport, top athletes must maintain their training whether they’re “feeling it” or not. Here are some of their techniques that may help you keep moving forward.
There are few people who haven’t heard of Usain Bolt. When he discovered he was much faster than others around him, he set out to find out how to take advantage of it. A lot of his motivation came from the drive to help his parents live more comfortably, and to secure his and his family’s future. Later on in his career, Bolt would find motivation in his increasing rivalry with his competitors. One particular example of this is when Justin Gatlin was quoted in an interview as saying he wanted to take Bolt’s world record title, this was all he needed to continue winning gold medals. Recently, the multifaceted winner of eight Olympic gold medal on the poker tables with PokerStars, to promote the game around the world.
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Gracie Gold, an Olympic medal winning skater from the United States, was just 18 years old at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Seeing that she was understandably nervous, her coach, Frank Carroll, gave a short pep talk to the skater, reminding her how much she loves skating. She went on to win a Bronze medal in the team event, so the advice must have worked. Gold’s coach also taught her that it isn’t being “perfect” that matters, instead accepting failures is part of the process of becoming “the best”. His mantra is “aim for excellence, not perfection”.
The 2008 and 2012 British Olympic rowing champion, Tom James, uses music for his motivation. By building a playlist that he likes, he is able to focus. He says that by not changing his playlist, he also knows that he is able to make it all the way to the end whilst training. James is not alone, music is a widely recognised tool for boosting motivation in a range of different scenarios. In the UK, the BBC broadcast a show called Music While You Work, from the 1940s to the late 60s, which was aimed at increasing the productivity of British works. Plenty of scientific research has been conducted, which concludes that is genuine merit to this approach.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games champion of road cycling, Lizzie Armitstead, says that it is important to remain disciplined. She believes that having a way to be held accountable makes it harder to cheat. For example, during the months of winter she ensures that she isn’t tempted to spend longer in bed by arranging to meet someone in the morning. She believes that by placing herself in a situation where she doesn’t have an opportunity to think, she is less likely to cheat. Having a routine that forces her to get up, have breakfast and then go means that she finds early morning motivation easier, and does not spend time looking at the weather to use as an excuse not to train.
Playing in the Quarterback position for Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson always dreamed of playing in a Super Bowl winning team. Throughout his life, he gained his motivation from asking the question “Why not me?”. He uses this to help fight negative thoughts, and to help him realise that he can overcome problems. By altering his question slightly, Wilson was able to help motivate his teammates by asking the question “why not us?”. This motivation helped them to win the Super Bowl in 2014.
Motivation can come from many places and, as these athletes have shown, it is a multi-layered concept. You need to find a reason to want to start, like Usain Bolt and Russell Wilson. You need to find a way to silence the doubt, like Gracie Gold, and a way to focus like Tom James. Then to top it off, you need to ensure you remain disciplined like Lizzie Armitstead.