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Motivation Is A Myth

"I can't get motivated" is the biggest load of bullshit, and coaches need to stop perpetuating the myth of motivation.

When I joined the Royal Navy, it was a little like the scenes we've all seen on the movies. We were instructed to all meet at a train station, before being loaded onto buses and driven in unison down from Totnes station to Dartmouth. We drove through the gates, and straight onto the parade grounds of Britannia Royal Naval College. You'd struggle to imagine a more impressive, and equally intimidating sight. It's a grand building perched on a hillside that dominates the surrounding landscape and the town of Dartmouth. Sandhurst and Westpoint wouldn't hold a candle to it.

The busses all pull up next to each other one by one, and as the last engine all stops, the music starts. And by music I mean fun, and by fun I mean fun for everyone but us; the 140 new officer cadets. What ensues is the first real taste of life in the Military. A frantic scene of similar to that of sheep being worked through a gate by a sheepdog. The gate being the bus door. With ironing boards, bags and a whole bunch on unnecessary crap that mommy insisted they bring. It's quite a sight, and an even better experience.

Fast forward a few speeches, some dreadful first attempts at marching, and we're all packed into a room for the first briefing. And it's there where I understood clearly for the first time why motivation is a myth. Up until this point I was 'motivated' to the next level. But sat in that room, with every aspect of my 'freedom' crumbling around me as every rule and regulation was read out, the task of passing the 30 weeks of intense training now appeared almost insurmountable. The main question in my mind was just how the hell am I going to last through 30 weeks?

The Military openly couldn't care less whether you're motivated or not. And it is my opinion that more coaches should embrace this approach. If you aren't motivated, or cannot motivate yourself then you don't belong. Similarly, if you cannot self-motivate to achieve success in your fitness goals, then equally, you don't belong.

So how was I in the situation above, and how is someone trying to turn around their fitness and change their physique supposed to stay continually motivated? Well, you're not. Motivation exists only as a fleeting emotion we experience for anywhere between a few seconds and a few hours. It very rarely lasts longer. And that is completely normal. More often than not, motivation last a few seconds, when we see someone with a great body, we hear a great track or we hit a PB in training.

The rest of the time; the other 99% of the time, there are two factors which keep you going.

1. Self Discipline

Commonly known; less commonly practiced. Self discipline is getting up on the first alarm. Getting up off the sofa to meal prep on a Sunday evening. Going to the gym when it's raining. Going to the gym on a weekend. Building a routine and sticking to it no matter what happens.

2. Integrity

Still doing all those things when no one is looking, and when no one else gives a fuck.

It's as simple as that. Like marching when you're tired, hungry and your feet are falling apart, it's one foot after another, one workout after another, one healthy meal after another. Why so many coaches invest so much time in trying to make the whole process more 'appealing' baffles me. I know why they're doing it! To take more of your money, because ultimately, you're going to pay the person who promises you the easiest ride. But as a coach, it must haunt them knowing that selling shortcuts only befalls their clients in the long-run. It probably doesn't bother them, but it should.

The industry has become obsessed with 8 and 12 week 'transformations', the results of which are all too often faked. And this has given the average gym-goer the impression that they are only '12 weeks away' from looking their absolute best. The even more naive will believe they will be 'shredded' or have 'visibly bigger muscles' in 12 weeks. And the more naive still, will believe that by paying someone 'famous', they will improve their chances even more.

It's all a giant fucking merry-go-round circus of nonsense and fraud.

The ability to 'self-motivate', and keep self-motivating, i.e. to pick yourself up again and again comes down to the two factors I mention above. Practice those two simple qualities and you will build momentum. Build momentum and you will build confidence. Build confidence and you will be able to dig yourself out each time you fall.

Believe me when I say motivation was no where to be seen when we were marched for a week on a training exercise, all day and night, in the middle of the UK winter. Carrying all our kit. Through rain and wind. One night, after a long day of training and exercises, including a midnight exercise involving sitting ear-deep in a freezing river, we were led into a field thick with head-high bushes and told to set up camp. It was 4am. It took 45 mins to beat back enough bush just to be able to put a roll mat down. We were then woken up with mortar shells and machine-gun fire at 5.15am, 30 mins later. No one was motivated then. People wanted to quit. People did quit in that week. The only thing that kept us going was self-discipline and integrity. And a little mental fortitude.

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