The Bigger Yes (how to stay motivated)
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically, to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.” ― Stephen Covey
Can we all agree that no matter what dream we’re working toward, motivation can provide the spark, but it’s up to us to build the fire?
As part of the ongoing Running is Rad initiative, many of us are defining the dream we’re chasing and building a plan to support it. But, it’s been a few weeks and this is when motivation starts to wane. We have to decide how bad we want it. And I don’t just mean physical goals—the same goes for personal and professional development too.
Here are some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head as I stare down my own stretch goal and wonder how to keep the embers of my fire stoked. And because I wanted this to be easy to remember, combined, the first letter of these 4 points spell out F-I-R-E) I know, I know.
1. Fix your mind on the goal
What are ways we can fan the flames of our dreams even when we’re not physically training or directly working on our goals? I take into consideration what I’m reading, what podcasts I’m listening to, what I’m depositing into my brain during my free time. What am I writing down to keep me focused; whose input and advice am I seeking?
Danna Herrick, an elite runner with too many distinctions to list, shares: “I write out my ‘Manifesto.’ I begin by writing out where I’m at physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually in this moment. This keeps me reminded, motivated, and driven to keep up the chase while remembering what day it is and what it takes in the present moment to emulate my manifesto.”
2. Identify when you need to say “yes” and “no”
You’re not like everybody else—your dreams are big and they’ll require sacrifice. You’ll have to say “ugh, if I have to” and “thank you, but I can’t” more than you’d like. Do you need to invest in a coach, an on-line course, educational materials, therapy? Do you need to learn a new skill, buy equipment, solicit outside knowledge or expertise? What do we need to give up? Do we need to put ourselves to bed earlier or incorporate more veggies into our diets? Personally, I’ve had to do all the above. Goodbye pinot, hello spinach.
3. Rearrange your environment
You’re the CEO of your life. And that’s good news; it means you can (for the most part) rearrange the pieces on your chessboard to meet the new demands your goals require. I’m not telling you to stop feeding the kids or skip work to stare at a vision board. I’m just making the point that we make choices every single day. And building on the point above, it’s within our power to take certain steps that will make our lives more compatible with chasing these dreams of ours.
If I need to get up early, wouldn’t it make sense to lay out my clothes the night before, make sure my GPS watch is charged, fuel properly? If I fail to schedule my time properly, am I really choosing how to spend my free hours or am I wondering where the day has gone? Also, who am I surrounding myself with? People who inspire me in the direction of my dreams or a bunch of Negative Nellies?
Danna notes: “I choose to surround myself with individuals who not only have a glass-half-full mentality, but who believe we have a big-ass pitcher that can top off anyone’s glass.”
Let’s start by examining what we can control. Then align those choices with where our dreams are taking us.
4. Enjoy the Wins
In his book The Motivation Myth, Jeff Hader writes, “If you want to stay motivated … if you want to keep making progress toward the things you hope to achieve, the key is to enjoy small, seemingly minor successes—but on a regular basis.”
In fact, the entire focus of his book centers on the premise that motivation is created. And the way we do that is by harnessing the power of momentum. We achieve a small milestone on the path that leads to our bigger dream, which then fans the flames and enables us to conquer the next goal. That means different things to different people, so you’ll have to figure out how best to string together those wins.
When filling out my own dream tracker, I wrote that I wanted to run 4 times a week, injury-free and increase my mileage. So every week I do that, it’s a win, generating more motivation, propelling me on to the next phase of work I need to accomplish as part of achieving the larger dream.
As I wrap this up, I want to leave you with some final thoughts on motivation from Jen Van Otterloo, Olympic Trials qualifier (marathon distance), mom to 3, and PE teacher:
“Motivation can dip for anyone. Some of my biggest motivators are my kids. I love to be an example of hard work. And to show them how to keep fighting when things stand in your way. Another motivator is that I’m gifted with the ability to run and move my body. I work with students who physically cannot run. And I have this body that can move, so I run for them. I’ve had enough success that I know what it feels like to reach that goal in the end. And that is a great feeling. To know you did it.”
So there you go, easy takeaways to keep you motivated. Fix your eyes on the goal, Identify what you need to say yes/no to in order to reach the goal, Rearrange your environment to achieve the goal, and Enjoy the wins in order to generate additional momentum.
To close this series out, we’ll talk about overcoming setbacks. Visit Running is Rad.
Stay tuned and make sure to check out some recommended reads below:
Burn Your Goals by Jamie Gilbert + Joshua Medcalf
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Choose Joy by Kay Warren
Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor
Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg
Grit by Angela Duckworth
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Motivation Myth by Jeff Haden
Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
How Bad do you Want it? Matt Fitzgerald