Motivation and How to Find It

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan

Right now, I am working on redesigning this wonderful little site. I’m sure you can already see some changes and hopefully you’re thinking “wow, this looks really freaking good and I want to share it with all my loose acquaintances and ex-lovers.”

Anyhoo, since I’m working extra on site-redesign, I’m actually strapped for time when it comes to writing actual articles. But I’m the habits guy, damn it. I can’t just give up on writing.

My resolution is to make a series of kind of off-the-cuff posts about my own personal experiences with health and fitness.

Since I’ve been on a bit of a motivation kick lately, why not start with that? So, motivation, how do you find it, what is it, and what are my experiences with it?


There was a fun little name that one of my mentors in sports medicine used to call certain athletes. NARP. Non-Athletic Regular Person. It was basically a term for someone who was playing the position of an athlete, but had no real athletic ability.

When you look up NARP in the dictionary, you find my beautiful face. I never have claimed to be a naturally athletic person. My sport in high school was track. I ran the 100m, 200m, and 400m sprints as if they were distance events. I was slow, and it was because I didn’t take training seriously.

Finding My Own Motivation

Having come from this kind of background, I find it surprising that fitness is now something that I’ve made a lifestyle. It wasn’t something that was really drilled into me by a coach, by my family, or by a mentor. I didn’t have my own personal Cus D’Amato to teach me the value of eating lightning and crapping thunder.

The birthplace of my own personal motivation likely came from my experience with martial arts. I trained in a form of karate for the better part of 11 years, through my teen years and into my 20s. This was the first athletic arena in which I demonstrated some measure of natural talent. Success came easily, and I actually got pretty good.

And you know what? When I had big tests coming up or wanted to get better at something, I actually trained outside of our regular class sessions. For the first time, I was motivated to get better at something.

Part of this was that my whole family was training in karate, and so I had that extra push from them to keep going and keep getting better. They provided some external motivation. But internally, this was the first time that I realized that if I put in the work I would see results.

This improvement, of course, resulted in a whole host of motivating results; social approval, self-satisfaction, respect, and the ability to teach others what I’d learned.

The True Lesson

Looking at that, you might think that the goal is to find something you love doing and let that be your motivation. But that doesn’t explain why I continue to train today.

I’m long since out of the martial arts world after moving away from my home town. Yet I continue to train. Why? It’s sure not because I get high off running or am addicted to lifting weights.

Yet, I think that’s ultimately what motivates me. The struggle of training IS the motivation. Or at least, it has become the motivation.

When I look back on those times training for the next belt test, or even the few times I took some initiative and tried to get faster on the track, I see them fondly in my memory. I’m not talking about the events, I’m talking about the training itself. The grind. The challenge. Having something to overcome is, itself motivating… but only if you look at it that way.

I might be starting to come off like some after school special “kool kid” with an ugly pair of sun glasses, a skateboard, and holding a box of cereal part of this balanced breakfast. It sounds super cheese, but you know what, it’s the truth. Motivation comes from the journey, not the destination.

Most destinations or goal posts last like, what, a day at most? An award ceremony for your accomplishments? Crossing the finish line of a race? A congratulatory handshake from The Rock? All very brief moments. If a single day is your motivation for hundreds of hours’ worth of torment then you’re not going to last very long.

When the struggle itself is your motivation, then losing motivation becomes almost impossible.

How to Find Your Own Motivation

This is another example of something that is simple, but not easy.

  1. Think of some way in which you want to improve yourself or something you want to accomplish
  2. Ask yourself if you’re willing to suffer for that thing. Is it meaningful enough to you?
  3. Start the process of accomplishing your goal by achieving the easiest step towards your goal first. Count that as a win
  4. With each successive step, acknowledge that, yes, it sucks, and yes, sometimes you don’t feel like doing it. Push through and do it anyway. You’ll find that your motivation is always there for you when you’re there for it.

Closing Thoughts

You might notice that this article feels a bit rough. To be honest, I wasn’t very motivated to write it. In fact, I have plenty of excuses to not write it at all: I’ve already been working all day, I’m tired, I don’t have that many people visiting my site anyway, I feel bloated and haven’t pooped all day.

But as I considered the points of this article prior to writing it, I realized I pretty much had to. I’m not motivated to write this article? Then it’s a perfect time to write this article. Every time I write it is practice. I learn something new. Every time I keep my streak going of posting at least once a week, THAT is motivating.

The same goes for you. Every time you put in an effort towards your goal, you get better. Whether or not you a motivated to do so doesn’t really affect the outcome. Not motivated? Go through the motions. THAT is how you find motivation.

That’s all I got.

Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash

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