Stop Waiting to Get Motivated

I get fed up with myself.

Combining a temptation to be lazy with self-imposed high standards often leaves me on a slackline between all-out work and all-out channel surfing. I sit down to watch a quick television show and… bam, It’s three in the morning, I’ve just finished five seasons of Netflix nonsense, and I have a horrible pit in my stomach.

If I don’t FEEL like working, then it’s hard for me to get off my butt and work. Motivation and feelings can only get you so far; it only comes around every now and again. The people who are driven are the ones who achieve greatness.

I met a man for about two seconds two years ago and I’ll never forget him. When I say ‘met’, what I really mean is that I caught a glimpse of him from the back of a rusted white pick-up truck somewhere in the middle of rural Haiti.

Long before the 7.0 magnitude 2010 Haiti earthquake, the nation lived in poverty. Death tolls from the quake are estimated to have been in the hundreds of thousands. Today, the national poverty rate is at 58.6%. The people below the Haitian poverty line live on an average of $2 per day.

Trash covers the streets and sidewalks. The temperature makes the trash rot, and the air in the summer is so hot it sticks in the back of your throat.

The man I spotted from the truck was wading through a rice field, tending to the crop. We were stopped on the side of the road, so I had a moment to take it in. I can only speculate, but he probably works that field every day. Mud caking his calves; squishing between his toes. Heat scorching. Scythe swinging. Blisters ripping.

Two dollars a day.

There’s something about places like Haiti that will make you grateful. After that trip, I was more than motivated. I wanted to work harder than I’d ever worked before. And that’s the problem.

I started training hard for an obstacle course race called the “Spartan Race”. These races are BRUTAL. This particular race was 4+ miles with 20-25 obstacles not including the mud, hills, and swamps. I completed the race, but my blind motivation was holding me back. Every other day I would run 5 miles as fast as I could, trying to beat my personal record every time. When I lost, I beat myself up. When I won, I felt fulfilled. However, at a certain point, I started regressing. Instead of beating my last time, I was beating myself up. Looking back, I think it came from either a fear of failure or a desperate need to show myself that I can succeed.

I was disgusted with myself. I believe I can do anything I set my mind to, but what if that isn’t true? I ran the Spartan Race and got 69th overall. It felt like an accomplishment, but It wasn’t good enough. So what can I work on for next time?

Like in Haiti, I get motivated to do things all the time, but it fizzles out. The Reel Rock 12 trailer gets me psyched to climb, but that initial motivation only lasts so long. My brain convinces me I don’t need it, I don’t have the talent, or I could be doing something else. If I don’t hit those goals or see improvement fast, I start to feel like a failure.

I need to remind myself about the end goal, and I need accountability to stay on that path. Emotion only gets me so far. It’s unreliable. A driven individual doesn’t let how they feel get in the way of progress. Stop waiting for motivation to come. A driven individual creates their own success. No matter their external circumstance.

To become driven, you have to create habits. Remind yourself of the end goal. Write it on the walls. Cut out that thing in your life that makes you feel lazy. Get up earlier. Work harder. I’m going to stop letting the world around me define me, and create my own work ethic. So those are the things I’m working on this year.

I’d like to do a bit of an experiment. I’ve got another Spartan Race coming up in May. This particular race is in Austin, Texas. It’s 8+ miles with 25-30 obstacles. My goal is to get into the top 40 of racers. I’m tired of waiting for motivation to come, and I’d like you (the reader) to be my accountability partner in training. Stay tuned for the post-race blog. I’ll share my results, and we’ll see how I do.

My memory of the Haitian rice farmer helps me remember the great opportunity that I have in my life. With habits and drive I can work as hard as my body will let me, and I know I can achieve anything I set my mind to.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you share my struggle at times? What drives you to achieve the things you want to achieve?

As always, thanks for reading.

– Casen

Casen (Contributor)

59 thoughts on “Stop Waiting to Get Motivated

      1. knurly says:

        I don’t really have the patience either – but this is what I want to do with my life, so I have to force myself to pursue this goal.

        -Knurly

        Like

  1. mermaidoutofwater83 says:

    I’m the same as you. When I’m motivated, I’m really motivated. But when I don’t feel like it, I’m terrible, and then the guilt comes. I’m struggling at the moment to find the motivation to do anything other than ticking over…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. thedihedral says:

      Exactly. Glad I’m not the only one! In some way, it gets all the way back around and I start not wanting to do something because I’m afraid of the guilt that comes when I quit doing it… Does that make sense? Appreciate the comment.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Viola Bleu says:

      Lovely blog name! One thing I learnt last year, was that these phases where we appear to be just coasting when our assumption was that we’d be hurtling towards the goal at a constant speed until we achieved it, are spirit and mind recuperation time. Now I’m not into any form of mumbo jumbo before you think I might be … but it makes sense … like taking a rest while we reassess the goal and perhaps tweak the route here and there. We humans expect too much of ourselves in one go. Interval training works best with many fitness regimes as we know, so why don’t we allow ourselves interval speeds with our approach to goals! Right. Cup of tea and a sit down 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Toward a Thousand Miles says:

    Gah, always. I set myself a schedule, a routine, and try to stick to it. Up at 4am, write for at least an hour, check emails, etc. It’s not always possible but I also try to squeeze in a hike, even a mile is better than nothing. It’s so hard to stay up some times. The struggle is real bruh!! Keep gettin at it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Keith A. Wadley says:

    This is where visual boards, goals, daily habits of reading through your goals, etc. comes into play greatly. Accountability is also huge for us mere mortals. It is like we need to know that we will let someone down in order to get off our arse. I think it is the communal mindset from history up until the past few hundred years. People had to go out and do hard things, like the rice farmer, or their community would suffer as a direct result. When we do not have community then we are okay letting ourselves down. We suffer as an individual by watching five seasons of whatever on Netflix instead of getting a good nights sleep and hitting the rock face early, or doing that longer distance run that starts at 4 a.m. or whatever your training regime requires in order to hit the top 40 goal. I will be following your progress as a member of your community blog here. Find a way to ignite the fire. Paste a big TOP 40 on the wall by your bed so that you see when you wake up and go to sleep. Know what you need to do physically to make it happen in terms of race time, and then create your training plan. May the schwartz be with you.
    Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thedihedral says:

      You’re so right! I’ve always been a big picture guy. When I have a goal I just white knuckle and do it! The problem is I don’t take the time on those types of details and remind myself of the goal. Thanks for the great comment!

      Like

  4. december-rose says:

    This one hits home for me… Aspiring musician, aspiring entrepreneur, full time civil engineer who reluctantly walks into work every day, works the 8 hours, earns a paycheck, and is left with nothing but money to pay the bills and the term “aspiring” dangling off of my dreams. Thank you for this much needed reminder. I also recently turned running into a habit because sitting in an office chair all day, all week, all year adds a different sort of guilt. The trick for me is turning running THEN practicing music and adding to my business plans into one big habit instead of three separate ones. Looking forward to hearing about your race! Good luck 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yana DB says:

    The only motivation I need is someone to tell me “you can’t do it”, then the stubbornness comes in and I’m fully motivated! Great post, keep going!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thedihedral says:

      That’s so true. I find myself in that position all the time. I’ll spend an hour trying to throw a rock at a certain tree just because my friend told me I couldn’t… Thanks for the comment!

      -Casen

      Like

  6. Pisaries Creator says:

    this happens all the time with me, not so much with exercise right now, but with other things. there is a fine line between pushing yourself to better yourself and doing something to solely punish yourself in the end. like the saying goes, the mind is a powerful thing. long after the scrapes have turned into scabs and more than likely turned into scars, the mental crap that floats around in your head usually is still there. i agree that changing your mindset, looking at life from adopting better habits that fit with your personality, and having variety is probably the most important for many people. i wish you great luck with your endeavors.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. alfanso says:

    The part about being ruled by motivation is something I think we’ve all experienced at one point, and (at least for me) it’s definitely the most difficult step. It’s paramount to our success that we become independent of that cycle because like you said, it ultimately ends with regression, not growth; unfortunately, it’s easier said than done though.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Marianne Guarena says:

    Not with rock climbing but with racing. I have literally cried with frustration. I am what you might call an over achiever and I absolutely FEAR failure. I had to slow down, visualize, regroup, wusah and then try again without putting so much pressure on myself. Funny, when I wasn’t expecting it or really trying for it, it happened. And then things got better after that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thedihedral says:

      I am the same way. When I used to play football I found myself in tears after practices because I was so small I couldn’t lift/hit/run as much as my teammates. It’s amazing how that can fuel us to work harder and become more mentally tough. Thanks for the comment!

      -Casen

      Liked by 1 person

  9. nikkipagepaintings says:

    Ugh, this article resonated a lot with me. I hate when I have motivation for something and I loss that “drive” simply because the results are taking time. I need to stay focused on my goals and push myself through the grind till I reach it instead of just giving up. I sometimes believe that I give up because I don’t want to fail, self-fulfilling prophecy for sure. Thanks for this article and the reality check 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. halffastcyclingclub says:

    I think you’re right about accountability to someone else (for those of us who lack accountability to ourselves). I spent years developing a course I wanted to teach, making slow progress. I thought I was doing OK. Finally I told my boss what I was working on and that I wanted to present the course at a particular conference. Being accountable to her as well as myself seemed to be what I needed to whip it into shape. I’m presenting it again (revised) next week in Salt Lake City if you’re in town 😉
    Now that we all know what you’re going to do in May, you’ll do it!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. MotivationalCandy says:

    Great blog. It sounds like you have a lot of (unconscious) rules for what constitutes failure and very strict one that constitute winning or progress. In my world, the fact that you run 5 miles makes you a winner. The fact that you would enter a Spartan Race makes you a winner. That you finished a Spartan Race a winner! It can be hard to motivate yourself when you have such a narrow window of ‘doing well’. I wish you all the best and I look forward to reading about your smashing success in May.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Martha Kennedy says:

    What has driven me? Drives me? External imperatives (of course) but also the feeling that if I do not do the things that pertain to me, then I’m not me. But that all has come with a price and now the imperative to continue being me is leading to my second major hip operation. I’ve actually questioned that. Have I just been a running fool all my life and this is a big cosmic, “Ha ha, told you so!” or a test of identity? I don’t know. But I do know the despair that comes when my true self has been pushed into compromise or a corner by life, fate, time or pain. I’ve never had a problem with remaining motivated, actually. I dunno… If you LOVE something and it IS you, I believe you will persist. Sometimes others can be an awakening force for us and maybe your Haitian rice farmer has been that for you. Maybe he is just a way station on the road that will carry you to the internal fire. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kim says:

    Motivation…. For me, I keep the end goal in site. Not just the goal itself but the benefits that achieving that goal will bring. It reminds me that it’s worth it to keep pushing.
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Kim says:

        Nothing wrong with paying attention to the struggles but don’t let them become all-consuming. I know, easier said than done but just to keep in mind. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Tiapatrol says:

    Over the years of trying to maintain a fitness level, I have also found getting in the habit is the best way to make sure it done. If I am not so motivated, I may not do my best, but I feel better that I got it done.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jennifer Gonzalez says:

    Yup. This is all me. I think, each Sunday, “Ok, this is the week” and then my asthma is bad or the weather sucks or I have little time… and then I feel defeated. I think to myself, “I want to do the competitive Spartan race” but I just can’t. So I don’t. I don’t know how to get past it. If you find out, let me know.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Kimmy's Keto Patio says:

    Ok, well, because of your blog, I learned a new word today. I literally had to look up dihedral because I didn’t know what it meant. Thanks for that, nice post, and thanks for stopping by my place as well! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Mona says:

    I think I never had an experience like that man and I don’t care so much about goals. I do care more about doing everything as good as possible, with love and dedication – and see where it gets me in life. Hopefully to true happiness in the end.
    My personal drive is the Holstee Manifesto https://www.holstee.com/ and to never stop in a way, always keep going and working on improving things step by step.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Tiffany Wright says:

    What a coincidence I found you! I get it, motivation’s hard, cuz guess what? You’re scared that something won’t work out, that you’ll have TRIED for something in vain. Or that it’s too hard and therefore not worth it. Good thing I took a good hike today to clear my doubts! Next stop: trying to monetizing my blog. Now how’s THAT for motivation?!
    Thank you for sharing, and thank you for liking my poem post.
    – Tiffany xx

    Liked by 1 person

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