In our mission to help athletes achieve their goals, we've collected 5 science-backed action plans to keep you motivated until your athletic goals are achieved.
We've all had moments of inspiration where we felt we could conquer the world. However, soon enough reality hit - leaving us demoralized, in a state of stagnation and unable to move forward in our athletic careers.
Now imagine being able to tap into the source of limitless inspiration on a daily basis, here is how:
1. Leverage the power of the subconscious to achieve your goals.
The subconscious is a powerful machine that if used correctly can make a huge difference in your level of motivation and ultimately your success. We've all heard the saying by Freud, 'the mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.'1
Writing present-tense self-affirmation while you are in a relaxed state helps you tap into the power of the subconscious because it accepts your affirmations as facts. It will then starts working on making your day to day the reality congruent with the facts presented to it. You soon begin to get ideas and solutions that you did not think of before.
Action plan: Being relaxed minimizes the consciousness's ability to filter messages sent to the subconscious. You are most relaxed at the morning, night or after meditation. Once relaxed, grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down positive affirmations in the present tense. Here are couple of examples of positive affirmations in the present tense:
1. "I am a the champion of this tournament"
2. "I beat this team"
3. " I am going to the Olympics."
2. Align all your different parts of your persona around your goal.
In his book ‘Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind', Robert Kurzban writes: “at one and the same time, [we] want to go for a training run and also want to stay in bed on a cold November morning... all of these different parts of mental machinery get along or, occasionally, don’t get along."4
Some examples parts that encompass the human mind are:
- Your biology - your DNA has the sole purpose of maintaining your existence.
- Your social self - as a social creature you have need to have personal influence over other people.5
Your ideal self - we have psychological motives or personal motives which include curiosity, exploration, achievement, and self-actualization.4
Action plan: when planning a goal that requires long term motivation make sure all the parts of your persona are catered for. Neglecting a single part of your persona such as your basic biology by lacking proper rest can lead you to drop all your goals. Lastly, goals that bring both extrinsic and intrinsic benefits can help cater to your social and ideal self.
3. Change your mood and watch your motivation change.
According to Andrew M. Lane in ‘Mood and Human Performance: Conceptual, Measurement’, a positive mood is crucial when you are facing a difficult task while a negative mood is better when you are facing an easy task.6
Mood is simply a fleeting emotional state; it can be modified and adapted based on the need.
Action Plan: Since our mood depends on our surroundings, changing our external stimuli can help change our mood. Here is a couple of steps that you can take to change your mood:
- Listen to music - music has always had a profound affect on the mind - it is especially powerful in affecting your mood.
- Change the setting - Stand up and go to the gym or your training center - changing your setting can change your mood
- Seek positivity - the best thing I’ve found to put me in a positive mood is to be grateful. I write down couple of things that happened that day that I am grateful for and also some things in the past.
- Mood is highly dependant on sleep. For me, a 15 minute nap gets me the rest I need and puts me in the right mood.
4. To maintain persistence and intensity, make sure your goals are aligned with your core purpose.
Persistence and the intensity with which your practice are both affected by the source of your motivation. Human motivation stems from two sources intrinsic and extrinsic goals.7 Athletes are too often focused on the extrinsic motivation - 'how will this make me look?'. Although getting respect from others or being remember as a successful athlete is very important for motivation, extrinsic benefits shouldn't be the only source of motivation. One should search for goals that also help them achieve their purpose - their larger goal in life. Goals that have both intrinsic and extrinsic yield greater motivation.
Action plan: Once you’ve decided you want to achieve a goal, stop and examine your motive. You are more likely to reach a goal that has large ramifications on your life - both intrinsic and extrinsic.
For example, years of hard work to go to the Olympics will result in increased recognition but it can also help reach one's purpose in life which might be to inspire others to reach their full potential. Since this type of goal will bring both extrinsic as well as intrinsic benefits, we are much more likely to follow through on a rigorous and demanding training regimen.
5. Motivation depends on maximizing rewards AND confidence in your capabilities.
One ingredient that is over looked when it comes to motivation is confidence and compitence. According Jack Brehm and Elizabeth Self, “...in typical expectancy-value models of motivation ... the magnitude of motivation is a multiplicative function of need, value of the potential outcome, and the perceived probability that a properly executed behavior will produce the desired effect."8
What this means is, the amount of motivation you will get depends on how badly you want the result AND to which degree you believe that your actions will lead to the desired result.
Action plan : In order to gain confidence in your capabilities, you should break down a goal into subgoals. Subgoals are smaller goals and achieving these smaller goals will help you gain the confidence you need to tackle the bigger goals. You'll also be able to get feedback a lot quicker to help you measure if you are on the right track.
6. Did we miss something? What motivates you? In the comments below, let us know what you discovered is important to your motivation!
- Bargh, J., & Morsella, E. (0005, June 28). Abstract. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved , from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2440575/
- How to Use Affirmations Effectively. (n.d.). wikiHow. Retrieved , from http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Affirmations-Effectively
- 12 Useful facts about Motivation. (n.d.). 12 Useful facts about Motivation. Retrieved , from http://www.preservearticles.com/201104195558/facts-about-motivation.html
- Kurzban, R. (2010). Why everyone (else) is a hypocrite: evolution and the modular mind. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
- THE STRUCTURE OF THE SELF CONCEPT. (n.d.). Self Concept Based Motivation. Retrieved , from http://www.uri.edu/research/lrc/scholl/webnotes/Motivation_Self-Concept.htm
- Lane, A. M. (2007). Mood and human performance: conceptual, measurement, and applied issues. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
- Cherry, K. (n.d.). Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation: What's the Difference?. About.com Psychology. Retrieved , from http://psychology.about.com/od/motivation/f/difference-between-extrinsic-and-intrinsic-motivation.html
- Brehm, J. (). The Intensity Of Motivation. Annual Review of Psychology, , 109-131.