The secrets to Martial Arts progress– Motivation, Part 2

Second part of the motivation post, with concrete tips on how to keep yourself fired up. Click here to read the first part, and feel free to add your own tips in the comments section. Also, have a look here for more secrets.

In the first part of this post, you saw the run through of defining your current situation followed by setting an end goal along with the steps necessary to get there. To many of us that is all common sense – simply having a goal will do wonders for your focus and drive. But over time the end goal may not be enough, and we find ourselves struggling. In the moments of exhaustion, when you’re all out of energy, when the obstacles are simply overpowering your resolve, it is easy to give in.

But remember that accepting defeat and giving up your dreams is easy; living with a lower sense of self-respect isn’t. Better to try and fail gloriously, than to let others convince you that you are less than what you could become.

Use these tips to keep yourself fired up when times are tough:

Surround yourself with motivators – find and gather material that keeps you motivated, then do what you can to keep it in your awareness. Find an inspiring image and make it your desktop picture or phone background. Bookmark videos or pages with uplifting material so that you can revisit them for a psyche-up when needed.

Stay aware of your progress by being on top of whatever advancements you’re doing by noting down how far you can run, how heavy you can lift, how long you can fight etc. Quantify this where possible and keep track on how efforts are paying off in terms of increased fitness, skills, and other performance based factors – or feelings, for that matter. Still losing but not being scared shitless anymore when sparring a certain opponent counts as progress in my book. Keep a journal with you for easy access.

Get a soundtrack that gets you pumped. They say that music is what emotions sounds like, so load up a few hours’ worth of that puts that fire back in your heart! If short on time, just grab the soundtrack to the Rocky and Matrix movies and you’re good to go. Just don’t be that guy that plays the music so loud that you give other people tinnitus as well as yourself.

Glass half full. Try to turn a disadvantage into an opportunity whenever possible. Sickness keeping you home from training? Stretch at home while watching a kick-ass action movie (with compulsory montage for inspiration). Injured ankle? Learn how to strap an injured ankle and handle other common injuries, so that you can help yourself and others going forward. In this, I live as I preach – having a permanent knee injury has taught me harsh lessons in how to train in a safe and controlled manner, as well as how to not only to survive but thrive in spite of a handicap.

Visualise your success – take your vision of your end goal to the next level by imagining the scenario at the end of the road. Enrich it with all your senses – set the stage with the sights, feel the surface you stand on, hear the sounds (crowd roaring, applauds etc) and even the smells coming with it. Go on and bask in this moment of glory to come. Congratulations, you now have a happy place! Come here whenever you find yourself wavering in your resolve.

Brothers in arms – If possible, see if you can find someone that is on the same path as yourself. Even if it is just for a part of the journey, having company can be motivating in more ways than one. Best case scenario is when you challenge each other to reach higher, as well as offer support and understanding when the other person is struggling. Be slightly cautious here though – the wrong choice in person here can be counterproductive, if he/she leads you into temptation or turns out to be less eager than yourself. You don’t want to burn yourself out by dragging another person with you, so it might be wiser to travel alone.

Flickr Rennett Stowe

Bromance is truly a beautiful thing.

Take a break now and then. Life can get complicated and things can conspire against you, to a point where you one day find that you need to take a time-out to sort out the dramas. Nothing wrong in that, as long as you ensure that your break doesn’t become permanent. It may help to set a to-do list and a timeframe here as well, so that you know when you can return to the task at hand. Even if you’re not swamped with things to do, it can still be beneficial to take some time off to fully recharge and get your passion back.

Incentives and rewards – this can be a powerful tool. As you have already defined the milestones on your way to your Most Glorious Moment of History Ever (in the first part about motivation), add some pizzazz to your achievements by attaching a reward to them. Broke your personal best? Get your freak on at the Martial Arts store. Reached brown belt? Pamper yourself silly with a massage. Or my personal favourite – put yourself in food coma by treating yourself to all you can eat Mexican food.

Also worth noting here is that an incentive is not necessarily a reward; some people get more motivated if they are intending to avoid a self-inflicted penalty. In my teens I was stupid enough to smoke for years. When I eventually committed myself to giving it up, my motivation came from swearing to my friend Jimmy that if I failed to quit then I would give him a hefty amount of cash – which I certainly had no intention of doing, so there was no way I’d allow that to happen!

Flickr Brett Jordan

Ideally, your struggle to the goal brings it own natural rewards

Grow from defeat – this part can be hard to master, but can also give you the strongest gain if handled properly. Life is truly a bitch, and seems to take immense pleasure in making us fail. Especially for those with high dreams, as the higher you reach the deeper you may fall. The key here is to turn your defeat to something constructive; use the trauma to harden your resolve. In fact, I’d say that we can grow more from defeat than victory as it prevents us from becoming complacent. If for example you were soundly beaten in sparring, to the point of tears from sucking so hard and failing miserably, you must not let it demoralise you. Instead, see it as a lesson in your gaps in sparring skills. Analyse your defeat – was it because you left your guard open? Did you run out of stamina? Once you know what you’re lacking, you can focus your training on what you need to improve to overcome this challenge(r) and become stronger from it.

Liked this article? Feel free to share it with others. Also, see here for more advise on training.

– Lobo

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