Find Your Drive
Sometimes, you want to do something, achieve something great, learn a new skill, but you don't really know why. So you get started practicing, changing your habits, and you start this amazing journey with motivation and gusto. Then, when things get challenging, you fall off the horse. You end up never achieving that goal, or learning that new skill. Sound familiar? I know I've been there so many times before. I have had this exact same string of events happen to me - and it stinks.
When I was in college, I made it a personal goal of mine to learn Japanese. I didn't have any particular reason, I just wanted it. So I bought some language books, downloaded a few apps on my phone, and went to work learning words, phrases, and basic grammar. And boy, was I dedicated. I was studying multiple times daily. I used it as an escape from my school studies (ironically) and flung myself in head first. I was reading and writing sentences. I made such good progress. Then, I started conjugating verbs. And it was hard. Really hard. My motivation plummeted.
With my motivation gone, I put the books away; I deleted the apps. I went back to business as usual. Learning a new language became so challenging that it felt more like a chore than an escape or a hobby. After all, I had no particular reason to learn, so I just stopped and went back to my same old routine.
Fast forward a few years, and (my now fiancé) Keith and I were looking at taking our first big international trip together. We decided to book flights to Japan. I was so excited to be going on such a big, bucket list trip with my favorite person, and I had no doubt that it would be an adventure. As I started researching the culture and other's travel experiences in Japan, I learned something interesting. Most travelers said that knowing basic Japanese was a huge help during their visit. And suddenly, I had a reason to learn again. I picked my books back up, dusted off my notebook, and redownloaded my language learning apps. I was reinvigorated. I had found my drive.
At this point in my life, things were very busy. I had just started my career and was travelling for work a lot. I had to work harder to stay dedicated to my studies, but I found it easy to stay motivated when I reflected on my "why". I set a clear goal: I wanted to learn Japanese so that I could read signs, speak to locals, and better understand cultural differences that we experienced on our trip. And it worked! I stay dedicated to my studies and even brought my language books with me on the trip. When we got there, I was able to ask basic questions, properly express gratitude to the many locals we interacted with, and even read some signage in Japanese to help us navigate bustling Tokyo (I am still really proud of that!). I had a "why", I had a plan, I worked hard, and I reaped the benefits of my labor. It was awesome.
My big takeaway from this experience is that your goals and aspirations need to have a driver, a "why" - something you can reflect on when the going gets tough to give you the gusto to get going! (Say that 10 times fast!) At the start of my fitness journey, I defined my "whys" and wrote them down in my journal. I also recorded data about where I was starting my journey from (more on that here)! Anytime things get tough or I feel un-motivated, I reflect on why I am going on this journey and how far I have come since day one.
So, why am I on going on this fitness journey?
I am going on this journey to better understand my body.
I am going on this journey to improve my health (what I eat/drink).
I am going on this journey to improve my fitness (athletic ability and activity level).
I am going on this journey to build habits that I know work for me.
My challenge to you: Define and document your "whys" for whatever journey toward achieving your goals you may be on. Reflect on them in times that you feel down or un-motivated. I think you will find that having a driver and a purpose will help keep you consistent in pursuing any aspiration of your choosing!