The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well. Pierre de Coubertin, primarily responsible for the revival of the Olympic Games in 1894
The 2020 Olympic Games, although a year late, are officially kicking off tomorrow. I love everything that happens on and off the “stage” at the Olympics—the competition, the stories, the drama, the excitement.
One thing I’ve learned from listening to world class athletics is not to wait to feel motivated in what I want to accomplish. “Just do what you do,” they say, “and the motivation will follow.” Drive to the gym, go to the walking trail, show up at the party, open your computer and start writing.
It’s a little like love—at first it’s a feeling but many days it’s a decision. You may feel motivated at times, but to emulate the Olympic athletes, sometimes you have to decide to do something whether you’re motivated or not.
Affirmation: I just do what I do.
Coaching question: What do you want to accomplish?
It doesn’t matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. Confucius
As I talk with people who are grieving or feel emotionally stuck, I often ask them to do one small thing they aren’t doing now. Dr. Fogg, founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford, calls these “tiny steps.” Increasing a person’s chance for success, however small, increases their motivation to do other things. Make your bed, floss your teeth, walk a block, read a chapter—take a tiny step in a new direction.
There’s scientific evidence that levels of dopamine tend to be higher in people who get things done. Accomplishing things feels good, increasing levels of dopamine which helps motivate us to want to do more. Ask yourself, “Why does it matter that I ____?” When we connect what we want to do to our values, the chance of moving forward increases. For instance, “I want to be present for my granddaughter” or “I want to honor my mother by a life well-lived.”
Affirmation: I can motivate myself to move forward.
Coaching questions: What’s keeping you from moving forward? What’s a tiny step you can take? When will you take it? Why does it matter that you regain your motivation?
It’s really pleasant to be with, familiar, faithful, complaining a little, continually going about its business, loving to lie down. Lillian Morrison, poet, excerpt from her poem, Body, taken from When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
Getting back to the gym recently after nearly a week away reminded me that it is an uphill battle to stay “in shape” as we age. I feels like it involves two steps forward, three steps back. But this portion of the lovely poem, Body, reminds me how fortunate I am to have this old, familiar body that complains only a little and generally goes about its business.
As a motherless daughter of a motherless daughter…both dying in their 30s…I’ve always felt that, for me, all the years past 35 are gravy. So as I approach a healthy, happy 73, my life is better than gravy, it’s a second helping of mashed potatoes with the gravy.
Affirmation: My body is “pleasant to be with”.
Coaching questions: What’s your motivation to keep your body healthy? How’s that working out for you? How do you view the years following the “anniversary” year of being the same age as your mother when she died?