The problem of motivation

Over the past few months, while this blog was being neglected,  I went through a bit of a “crisis” of sorts with regards to some of my extra curricular activities. I felt my motivation to go mountain biking just disappear. When I did make it out I still really enjoyed  it, but, I found getting myself out to the trail harder and harder.  A host of different things were distracting me and competing for my time. Again and again I was opting for the easy thing, the quick gratification. Just stay home and watch YouTube. Play some Video Games. Go out to eat. But the funny thing is I still WANTED to go mountain biking. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say I wanted to have gone mountain biking. I still wanted to open up TrainingPeaks and see that Chronic Training Load climbing upwards. I wanted to be a stronger and better rider than I am today. I still wanted the result, I still enjoyed the riding, but I found starting more and more difficult. It was just easier to do other things. Things which I enjoyed but which did not get me any further down the paths I wanted to travel. I spent close to 6 months trying to figure out what I needed to do. I kept trying to get my motivation back. To get #stoked about riding again. Then one day while doing one of the easy things (Watching videos on the internet) I heard someone tackling this same problem but in an counter intuitive way. Their answer to the question of how to stay motived. Don’t. You won’t and you can’t. Don’t worry about having Motivation, worry about having discipline.  Rather than focus on trying to increase your motivation instead focus on doing the thing even when you don't want to. Motivation is fickle. Don’t worry about Motivation. Discipline is constant. Be disciplined and motivation is irrelevant. Be disciplined and you will make progress. 

This simple idea hit me like a punch in the face. It seemed so obvious. Everyone looses the motivation to do the hard things. In fact this was a lesson I had already learned elsewhere in my life. It was discipline which got me through two degrees. It was discipline which got me into and through Officer Candidate School, and it is discipline which has made me a moderately successful Naval Officer. Why was I not taking the same approach to mountain biking?

I think if I am honest it is because I have always been worried that working hard at mountain biking will somehow make it no longer fun. That by being serious and deliberate about my training I will loose sight about why I love mountain biking and why it brings me such joy. I still believe these concerns are valid but I think I have let that fear get in the way. Ironically that fear and the resulting lack of discipline did exactly what I was trying to prevent. Lack of Discipline lead me down the path of loosing my love of mountain biking. Looking back I see many lost days of enjoyment I can attribute to that lack. I can not see a single day of lost enjoyment which I can attribute to my training or discipline.  

It is time to become more disciplined. Motivation will come, and leave, again. I can’t bike away my love of biking, it will only ever leave me when I stop biking.  

Now if it would just stop raining ;)