Motivation VS. Dedication

Remember when you signed up for your A race? How about when you started that diet last year? Or when you decided on your 2012 New Year’s Resolution. Things were bright and shiny, and those first days were so exciting as you went on your way to achieving your goals. Then two weeks go by. All of the sudden, it is hard to wake up at 5:00 AM to get that early morning swim in. You don’t want to eat carrots and hummus anymore. You can’t even think about writing in your journal like you thought you would each day in 2012.  News Flash: It doesn’t have to do with motivation.

What keeps high achievers going is DEDICATION. Motivation is the initiative to start a task and persist at that task. I would argue, in my experience in fitness and coaching that motivation is the initiation and the beginning stages of accomplishing a set goal. Motivation wanes. It diminishes. Our goals are not as shiny as they once were. Our excitement and sense of urgency at achieving the goal starts to fade. It’s ok. It’s normal right? It’s normal, but is that going to get you where you want to be? What sets apart high achievers vs. low achievers is the person’s level of and awareness of his or her dedication.

Dedication goes beyond motivation. It is being devoted and committed to your goal to the point of zealousness. Some days it might not feel so zealous but if you talk to someone who exhibits true dedication, they can explain to you how through thick and thin, they give what they can, how they can, the best they can. And hey, some days they end up short. The other trait they exhibit is an awareness of how dedicated they are. They realize and acknowledge when they come up short. They re-assess where they are, refocus, and rededicate themselves.

So are you dedicated? I have no idea but here’s an idea of how to evaluate yourself. Journal about your goals both long and short. Write down how you feel when you are highly motivated/engaged in achieving your goal. Also reflect on some ways you will know you are dedicated to your goal. I think journaling is very healthy in more ways than one and you learn a lot about yourself as you write thoughts on paper. This could be an example: When I started training for Ironman Louisville, I was so excited to be starting this crazy journey. I’m also really excited to start riding tons of miles although I’m scared! I know there will be hard times in my training and I will come back to the fact that 1) I made a commitment financially, physically, and emotionally to finish this race 2) I am a strong person and I want to prove I am stronger than people think and 3) I typically give up and I am positive I can do this! I will know I am dedicated when the voice inside my head that says “hit the snooze button” is yelling at me but I push it aside and get up anyway. I know I am dedicated when I feel really cruddy and have a track workout but instead of calling it a day, I will take the intensity out of it and run aerobically.

Do I struggle with motivation? Oh yeah. Do I struggle with dedication. Sometimes. What I have learned is to be honest with myself about my goals and compare them to my level of dedication. If I whine and don’t finish XYZ in training I can’t be upset when results 123 don’t happen. THAT is what keeps me dedicated…


Originally posted on April 15, 2012 by Lauren Updyke via

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