Written by: Jacob SuperSoldier Summers
Edited and Reviewed by: Ethan Summers and Rory Zaugg
What’s your axe to grind?
What fires you up?
What gets you out of bed and in the gym?
If you aren’t currently going, what would get you there?
Motivation is fleeting. Motivation is the spark, the flint, the kindling to start the fire… but it’s not the fuel for your bonfire. No, to keep going to the gym once, twice, or five times a week, you need some timber for that fire. You need a woodpile. We all burn down from time to time. We all need to stoke the flames or restock the woodpile. That’s okay. What’s not okay is asking your kindling to be your bonfire.
Why is motivation fleeting?
Because it is, I’m afraid to say, pop psychology. It’s a great impetus, but when you’re on your fifth set of deadlifts, your fourth mile on the treadmill, or your third post-work day at the gym when all you really wanted was to stay home and binge-watch Netflix… that meme about “lifting for me” or “do it for the booty” isn’t going to help keep you there. Memes are powered by life. Life isn’t powered by memes.
You need something deep and abiding. Just as what you consume for food directly relates to your physical performance, what you put in your mind influences your mental performance. Maybe even more so than the food.
Why is motivation not enough?
Because motivation is built on emotion. Emotion is great for bursts: starting a routine, rallying during a powerlifting meet, asking your boyfriend or girlfriend to marry you… but emotions cannot be sustained day in, day out with consistent results. Emotions are kindling, not logs. Discipline is the sustaining fuel of a blaze.
What can you do to build discipline?
You develop and foster willpower. You keep your goals in mind, you take a big step back to determine if they are worth all the effort to accomplish them, and then you make the sacrifices necessary to attain them. Willpower is a capacity like any other. It can grow or wither. It can be built or torn down. You have to grow your capacity for it.
Do you work out to play with your kids or grandkids as you age?
Do you work out to look amazing for your spouse? (This wasn’t my original goal, but it definitely is now.)
Do you work out to be the strongest and fastest version of yourself?
Do you work out from some secret desire to be a real life super hero? (Don’t laugh, its valid.)
Whatever you do has to be mostly for you and no one else. Even in my first two examples, those are still inherently for you. You end up looking good. You end up feeling good. You end up able to move. You do it to interact with others. But it’s for you.
This cannot last if you’re doing it solely to impress or memorialize another. Why? Because they aren’t there to keep you accountable. If your goal is to improve yourself then you will let yourself down when you don’t live up. Sure, you’re your own best champion… but you’re also your own worst critic. You care if you succeed or fail. If you work out for others, they may not care in a week, a month, or a year. They have their own lives, hopes, fears, and goals.
You can honor a fallen brother, parent, or service member, but it needs to be mainly for you.
So, our key points are:
∙ Establish clearly attainable goals
∙ Determine the steps needed to reach them
∙ Plan those steps and how you’re going to reach them
∙ Eliminate the unnecessary
∙ Do it for you
What are some practical examples?
Well, for one, my brother and his wife were very earnest about losing weight. He’s dropped from2 230 pounds to less than 200. Hell, I weigh more than him. How did they do that? They set their goals, determined a day and a time to prep meals, and stuck to the meals. That seems simple. It is. The devil is in the details.
You’d be surprised how people can find an hour or seven to browse Reddit or watch Netflix but say they don’t have an hour to meal prep. We’re all like this.
If you view those excuses as obstacles to solve, and not shields to hide behind, it might take a day or a month but you will win.
I tell people all the time that I have little problem selling my plans for cheap, because what I do isn’t a well-guarded secret. The secret is in the actual doing of the task. I could detail free step-by-step instructions for losing 45 pounds of resistant fat in 6 months… and 90 out of 100 people wouldn’t open the PDF. Ten might open it. Maybe one would follow it.
Another example is one I have heard often, but which my friend Tommy the Techno Viking recently discussed is the importance of treating it like a job. A fun job, even a great job that pays an income you can count on for the rest of your life, but still a job. After your day job ends at 5:00, or before it starts at 7:00, you have a two-hour shift 3 to 5 days per week waiting on you. Your gains will fire you if you don’t show up. That’s something I work at every day – treating my lifts, this business, and training others as a 5:30-9:30 job 5 days a week. I’m not perfect at it. The success is in the getting back after it every time no matter how crappy a shift I had at this night job last time or how draining my day job was before this shift. Anyone can hit the gym when they feel great. Victors take care of themselves no matter how they feel that day.
In closing, I leave you with this simple outline to help get you started. Print this off and answer these. Write your answers somewhere you can see them. My brother actually wrote his on the mirror and changed them as he progressed.
∙ What are your goals? Are they SMART (simple, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound)?
∙ Are you doing them for you and not someone else?
∙ What will it take to achieve them?
∙ Is the cost to achieve them worth the payoff?
∙ What will you do to achieve them?
∙ What will you give up to achieve them?
∙ When you miss a step, what are you going to do to make it up or move on?
∙ Do you know what you’re going to do when you reach that first goal?
∙ Is there someone you can use to follow up with you and hold you accountable?
Take some time, commit to internal dialogue, answer these, and get started.
Do it for yourself, because you can, and you want to.