Training to be an Olympian is pretty hard. Ok, that’s an understatement - it’s incredibly hard. Making an Olympic team takes talent, preparation, execution, and finding ways to stay motivated when you feel like not training [which I have continually tried to point out in my blogs – happens to everyone trying to make an Olympic Team at some point]. The skills that these athletes show in order to help achieve their goals are things that we can all implement into our own lives. The question is to find out what we are really passionate about and determine if we have enough awareness and perseverance to achieve what we set out to do.
So how do Olympians, when it’s time to train and set out to achieve their goals, get up and do it every single day, even when they feel like not doing it? Here are the three main reasons:
They have GRIT
Angela Duckworth, in her research and writing on Grit, defines it as a ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals.’ Olympians who stay motivated do not just ‘like’ there event or do it ‘because they are good at it,’ [it obviously starts because they are talented or course] but their event is their passion. There is no way that an anyone – someone in sport or business – can compete in something that only happens every 4 years if they are not passionate about it. It goes beyond something that they like to do, it moves their emotions, almost to the point of defining who they are. Yes, these people have perspective, but they understand that part of who they are is being an athlete in their particular event. This is also where perseverance comes into play. Someone who is trying to obtain a long term goal, such as making an Olympic team, must have perseverance. And this is not just perseverance to get through the next workout, or a workout a few months down the road, but perseverance to obtain something in the long term – like the Olympics.
They understand what a means to be committed
Being committed is defined as being dedicated to a cause or activity. Many of us can say that we are committed to something, yet we really don’t understand what being truly committed is. First, let’s get one thing straight – you can be committed to something and not be obsessed with it. An example of this is that you can love you’re your wife, be totally committed to her, but not think about her 100% of the day. You are confident in your relationship and because of this, you don’t have to obsessed over how things are going – you know that things are cool. Understanding commitment also means that you can have a balance in your life. It means that you can be interested in other things, but yet still have a strong passion for something else. If you are really into the New York Jets [I’m sorry], you can still be passionate about making sure you get your run in each day and be still be motivated to do it, by getting your run in before the tailgate. You don’t have to wake up in full Jet gear on Sunday’s. You can still have a life and still be into the Jets [again, I’m sorry]. Lastly, being committed means that you understand that somedays you just have to be tough and get your training in, even when you don’t feel like it. One of the things that elite athletes are aware of is that when they do not want to get their training in [and again, it happens all the time] that what makes them different is that they understand first, that they will mentally and physically be in a better place once they have completed their training and second, that missing a day of training will put them in a bad emotional place. Once that workout is completed, not only is there a sense of accomplishment from doing the workout, but it increases the amount of satisfaction in completing it since they were so unmotivated to start it in the first place. Sometimes it’s important to remember that completing something is just as satisfying as doing something perfectly.
They have a set of long term AND short term goals
An effective way to stay motivated is not just having a long term goals, but to have short term goals that act as bench marks along the way. These are not just goals such as trying to win a race, but goals that involve hitting marks in training when it comes to weight training, nutrition, and being consistent. And it is not just the goals themselves that are important, but HOW they are to obtain these goals. Anyone can set goals, the hard question to ask and the one that helps keep you accountable, is how are you going to achieve these goals. Setting short term goals and being committed to how you are going to accomplish them not only keeps one motivated by helping you achieve goals along the way, but will increase your confidence by proving to yourself that you are on your way to achieving your ultimate goal – whether it be something as simple as setting a personal best, or making an Olympic Team.