As I've studied sports psychology motivation, I've seen lots of emphasis placed on goal setting. But there is another motivational technique available to athletes, one way more powerful.
You see, it's easy to paint a picture and really mean what we say in the moment. But actions tell the real story—and not just the ones we take, but the ones we don't take. So what does all that mean?
By paying attention, sports psychologists can tell the difference between a driven athlete, one who takes a "no-excuses" approach to his or her goals, and an athlete who claims a commitment to top sports performance but lacks mojo. The spark of passion is missing.
What contributes to passion (or mojo)? The answer is easy and the solution is universal. Motivation strengthens your passion for your sport. Without the right motivation, you will lose spark and your game will suffer. Of the two types of motivation, external and internal, only one has a rich payoff.
Why did you first start playing sports? Did your parents expect you to play? Were sports your escape route from a difficult life? External motivation comes from people and factors outside yourself. Have you ever noticed athletes who just go through the motions, like it's a job? Their hearts are not really in it. External motivators by themselves eventually lose their effectiveness.
Your mojo comes from internal motivation. The push to go the distance comes from inside. Maybe you're driven to prove you're the best, or perhaps competing is the only time you feel fully alive. Regardless, even when things get tough, you're up for the challenge. You do it because you want to, not because you have to. That's what ignites you to reach your goal.
Full commitment assessment
Are you struggling to determine whether your heart is really in it for the right reasons? Are hidden obstacles blocking your progress? Sports psychologists have shown that it's possible to overcome them and to renew your full commitment. However, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. Take the following quiz to determine the extent of your true drive. Score each answer from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).
You lack certainty about your goal. Do you feel conflict? Maybe you see yourself as the top player in your group, but don't like attracting attention to yourself.
You like control. And this becomes a bottleneck in your quest for success.
You interfere with your own progress. Trying to figure out how it's going to play out can slow you down. There are some things you don't know yet.
Trust is an issue. You're a lone ranger and don't like depending on others.
Unclear vision. You cannot see yourself reaching your goal. Maybe you think you don't deserve it, or maybe everyone around you is focusing on your weaknesses instead of celebrating your achievements.
So where do you rate?
1-8 indicates high internal motivation
9-15 indicates a combination of internal and external motivation
16-25 indicates high external motivation
Although many athletes get started for external reasons, their motivation transitions to internal over time. It's up to you. Internal motivators strengthen your self-image and keep you committed, even when the going gets tough. External motivators can help, but only if you have that internal spark. They become icing on the cake.
Get crystal clear on your goals, connect with your personal reasons to do whatever is necessary to reach them, and believe it is possible. Believing in yourself and your full potential is a game changer.