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.