Start with Why?…… (Anon)

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Wanting to succeed is not enough – Understanding what  lies beneath the want is what will fuel your success. This is what i learnt today from Kim Ingleby after we chatted about the forthcoming season and why i wanted to complete another ironman.

You have to want it! is a phrase we use all the time when we are trying to encourage and motivate ourselves, because wanting something theoretically means that we will try damn hard to get it.Whether it’s to do well at work, to run our first mile, to win a contract, to win a race- we all want something. But is there more to want than just the desire to attain that specific goal?

We all want things- but do we know why? Do we question properly why that particular thing is important? Is it enough to say because I want to be good, to win? Is it a specific, personal enough reason to drive you forwards, to get you out of your warm bed on a grey morning while the rest of the world slumbers, to make you skip the drinks in the pub with friends so you can get to the pool and churn out a set that you don’t feel like doing.

When I first toyed with doing an ironman , my coach perhaps sensing my apprehension, gave me sound advice : you can do it, but…. You have to want it. I have played that line over in my head so many times that it’s it on automatic rewind and play. It is etched on the inside of my eyelids and rings in my ears. When I am feeling unmotivated i see it and I hear it- i ask myself if i do truly want to reach that end goal and I know they are wise words.

But what exactly do those words mean. What did my coach mean? That I needed the drive to see me through the hours of training, to focus on the end goal when all I wanted was to climb out of the saddle or coast down the hill and home, to have a hunger that would not be satisfied until I had achieved my goal? I think he meant all of these things, because without a desire we have no passion and without passion, well, there is nothing. We can go through the motions but that is not enough to succeed.

What then, underlies the hunger and the drive? A challenge! Self fulfillment! We say…. But my mental strength coach Kim, would smile knowingly at this – for this is not the real reason.  That, I have learnt, is a get out clause, a generic, wastebasket, safe term.  The question is not about why you are doing it but what you will gain from doing it!! This is something that until now i have been vey lazy at doing, hiding behind the blanket terms and automatic replies.

Think about this in another context. At work you need to write a presentation as part of an internal interview and the deadline is in a month. It may be important to succeed at this for several reasons-  the end result being we want a promotion (we win!). But why do we want the promotion? More money, more responsibility, less accountability, more perks, travel, less hours etc. Again- why do we want these things? To make life less stressfull? To make us feel more important? To give us more freedom? The list goes on. And why are these things important, humor me here….what would you gain?

Now think about sports and exercise related goals. Apply the same logic. It gets harder to do. Personally I think this is partly because we only ever admit the deep stuff to ourselves – rightly so, and partly because we never admit the deep stuff- even to ourselves. But in not doing so we are depriving ourselves of a driving force so powerful that we can risk losing focus. In other words considering the bigger picture, the ripple effect can be a powerful motivator.

Will running a marathon make me a better mother? what about running it in a set time, will that make me batter at my job? Will cycling 100 miles at a personal best make me happier? and if so why? I won’t answer these questions, because the answers are mine and , just as your own answers are yours.

Some people know the answers already. They are the enlightened ones. The ones that know the difference achieving a goal will make. Kim is one of these people. There are no right or wrong answers, but to not know why we do something is nonsensical in every way and in some ways it devalues our aspirations.

So next time Kim asks me why i want to do a particular event, i will not be replying “for the challenge”

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