I just stumbled upon this article on Facebook reposted from the blog of Suzannah Scully, who helps you “find what you were made for.” Although I was not aware of the article, it was written by a good friend and actually references me. I’m reposting the article in full but please visit Suzannah’s site when done reading.
In good health,
Intro from Suzannah Scully I tend to indulge in all of the sweets and rich foods, I exercise less because it’s too cold outside for me. I let myself get stressed with holiday cards to send out and gifts to buy and packing for travel and etc etc etc.
This all made me think of my personal trainer and one of my favorite people, Jennifer Pattee, who is definitely the most motivated person I know. Not only has she built and runs her own company Basic Training, but she is also training for the North Face Endurance Race this week which is 50 miles. Yes, you read that correctly. 50 miles.
So I asked her if she wouldn’t mind writing a blog post on how she stays motivated and hopefully we can all absorb some of her magic dust.
As I was pigging out on pumpkin pie and laying on the couch reading the newest US Weekly last week during my Thanksgiving Break, I had a thought that I am probably not the only one who has a hard time staying motivated during the holidays.
Article from Jennifer Pattee from Basic Training San Francisco.
All my goals are stupid, pointless, and boring. It’s true.
Running fifty miles? Quickly? What a waste of time. What’s the point? Definitely super boring.
Becoming a running model? Wow, how vain. With that flat chest and those hips? Really? At 39?
Then there’s doubling the amount of money my business makes in a year. How greedy and materialistic. Seriously.
Thought you were Buddhist?
Take two weeks off next year and travel. Jeez, that’s just throwing money away. Who are you going to travel with? A singe woman bike riding across Thailand and Vietnam? Sounds dangerous. You can’t even reach your destination with GPS in your car. Who are you kidding?
And so it goes, on and on. All the sabotaging talk and voices in my head that chip away at my motivation.
I am not a person who dabbles. When I go for something, I go all the way or not all. Which is great when I go all the way. But when I start to doubt myself? I give up completely. My good friend and neuroscientist Dan Pardi calls it “perfection paralysis.”
However, in the last few years I have placed in the top 10 for my age group for 30 and 50 mile races, I’m getting callbacks for ad campaigns running in Outside magazine, and this year when I filed my taxes I had to pay twice as much because yes, I had doubled my income.
So how did I outfox all the sabotaging voices, quit doubting yourself, and keep moving forward?
I learned a little about who I am, embraced it, and created some tools to keep me tethered to my goals.
1) I thrive in structure. Therefore, as long as I have a road map, I’m good to go. When it comes to my ultramarathon training, a road map means having my training plan detailed day by day for six months out. I know exactly what i need to bring and do at each workout ahead of time. All I have to do is show up.
2) I am a visual person. Show me a picture of something and I understand it completely. The image becomes etched in my head, and I will never let it go. To keep me motivated towards my goal of sports modeling, I took a picture of the cover of Outside magazine (where I want to end up someday) and I keep this image everywhere: in my apartment, on my refrigerator, even the “lock screen” on my cell phone. I truly believe that you need to have a picture of each goal you are going after that you can refer to all day long.
3) I need community. Why? Because goals are lonely pursuits. Believe it or not, I have a hard time finding friends to run fifty miles with me. I know, weird. So I had to find other weirdos like me who enjoy trail running. It wasn’t easy. And believe me, I had to stick my neck out. But I found them: thanks to my fellow ultrarunning friend Charles Lantz I found a group of dedicated endurance athletes who hit the Headlands once a week at 5:30 AM to clock in twelve miles before work. I can’t keep up with them because they are some of the fastest runners in the state. But every time I run, I know they are gunning for me. It’s the best feeling in the world. Combine that with a mountain top view of sunrise breaking across the San Francisco skyline and I can’t imagine anywhere else in the world I would rather be.
4) I need accountability. I hired a running coach at the start of my season this year, to set myself up to train in the best and most efficient way possible. She sends my workouts to my phone every day, and i check in with her regularly. sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly. she is always there, holding me accountable to my goals. every race. every injury. every step.
As my friend Jon pointed out, when i asked about his decision to work with life coach, “Pro athletes don’t show up to games without being coached…” I decided if i wanted my life to be extraordinary, i shouldn’t show up un-coached either. hands down, it’s been one of the best decisions i’ve ever made.
So, to re-cap:
Working to achieve personal goals is incredibly important work, but no matter what your goals are, inevitably you will struggle. The closer you get to achieving your goal, the more likely you will lose motivation. Along the way, there’s a good chance you will experience setbacks. The bigger, scarier, hairier the goal, the more likely it is to challenge your current identity, which means your current self is likely to resist change and sabotage your progress.
How to stay motivated:
1) Roadmap – give yourself a roadmap sketching out all the steps it takes to achieve your goal(s). post it somewhere you will see daily. i also keep 3-ring binders for each goal i am working towards.
2) Image – pick an image that represents your goal and put it somewhere you will see often. You don’t have to put it in a place everyone can see it — inside your closet or even your wallet works too.
3) People – surround yourself with people who are passionate about the same boring goals that you are. see them weekly, if possible.
4) Coach – hire a coach to help you navigate your path, overcome setbacks, and hold you accountable along the way.
Reaching for goals, trying to better ourselves, occasionally getting hurt or falling on your face — it may be stupid, pointless and boring …. but it’s also the only way we will know what it means to be fully human.
It’s the greatest thrill on Earth.
And It’s the only game in town.