My junior year in high school, I was dealt the most devastating loss of my basketball career. Up 19 with less than 3 minutes left in the NorCal championship game, we were going to coast to the holy grail: the State Championship--a destination I had always dreamed of reaching.
Then, everything went wrong. Our opponent (St. Joes) got hot and staged a massive comeback coinciding with our collapse. Poor free throw shooting, turnovers and bad calls did us in. To make matters worse, on the final play of the game I got burned on a crossover and their point guard hit a floater at the buzzer. Our season ended in misery. The front page of the local paper was this photo of our dejected team (I’m second from the right).
That offseason I vowed never to let that kind of failure happen again. To remind myself of that pain, I put that newspaper clipping in my bag along with a 3x5 card that read “Never Again.” I worked harder that season than I had ever worked before. The following season we beat St. Joes to reach the state championship game.
So why am I telling you this? Well, because I learned a valuable way to motivate myself that I want to share with you. The remainder of this post will explain how you can effectively use inspirational quotes--or in my case, images--to improve your motivation to train.
Our Unfortunate Misuse of Motivational Quotes
Inspirational quotes are everywhere. They litter social media sites and online forums. But most of these quotes wash over us without making much of an impact. But you know that surge of energy and purpose when you find one that truly resonates? That feeling is powerful.
The problem is, motivation is fleeting by nature. Unless you're going to start training very soon, your inspiration usually dies before you begin your next workout.
Don’t get me wrong, motivational quotes are great. But most of us only look at inspirational quotes when we happen to see one online or on a poster. So that jolt of energy is wasted when we’re sitting in front of a computer or away from our training. It doesn’t occur when we are in any position to apply that motivation toward our goal.
So how do we best utilize motivational quotes to our advantage? By placing them in a spot that will best time their impact. I placed my inspiration in my workout bag. That way I could look at it before every time I trained.
Every person’s motivation will be different. They key is to find something--usually a quote but sometimes a picture--that will inspire you every time you see it. Here are two steps to effectively find and utilize your motivation.
First, recognize the area(s) where you are most likely to falter. If you lack consistent determination, find a quote on determination. If you have a poor attitude when you workout, find a quote for that. Be honest with yourself.
Second, make the quotes readily available. For example, a 3x5 card in your car, a post-it note in your wallet, or even just a note on your phone. Places where you will see it immediately before you work out. (I find the phone to be much less helpful because we look at our phones hundreds of times each day). I even found one quote that I love so much that I inscribed it into a wristband that I wear most days. It says “Success is not an accident. Success is a choice.”
To get you started, here are some quotes that may help. They are categorized by what I have found to be common workout weaknesses.
“Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement” -Matt Biondi
“You’re never a loser until you quit trying.” -Mike Ditka
“Without self-discipline, success is impossible. Period.” -Lou Holtz
“With self-discipline most anything is possible” -Theodore Roosevelt
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” -Thomas Jefferson
“Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” -Lou Holtz
“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.” -William James
“Success looks easy to the people that weren’t around when it was being earned” -Anonymous
“There may be people that have more talent than you, but theres no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” -Derek Jeter
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” -Tim Notke
“If you can’t outplay them, outwork them.” -Ben Hogan
“Continuous effort — not strength or intelligence — is the key to unlocking our potential.” -Liane Cardes
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” -Muhammand Ali
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” -Lance Armstrong
Fear of Failure
“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” -Babe Ruth
“Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.” -Jim Valvano
Didn’t find any quotes that resonated with you? Don’t worry, keep your eye out for anything that inspires you and write it down. Harness its power and use it to make your workouts better.
What other quotes have inspired you? Have you found any creative ways of making them accessible?