Beginner’s Luck: Motivation Is a Unicorn

"Motivation and hope are great things—but they are only real in the face of discipline, hustle, and work."

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Why do some of us find ourselves falling into the same rut and retelling the same story? That can’t-quite-get-our-goals on track feeling comes over and over again. What is going on? What is happening when we can’t seem to find the “motivation” to get our buns out of the bed and train?

Sometimes we are waiting for motivation to rain down upon us like some fantastic gift. As I have preached (and preached for a very long time), motivation is not something that we have or don’t have. Motivation is a complete and utter lie. The people who are out there hitting their workouts, getting in the pool in the middle of the freezing winter, and running their hearts out in the burning summer, aren’t relying on the abstract gift of motivation.

I have talked about discipline before. Discipline is king. Discipline is the thing that really matters. Discipline exists. Motivation is a unicorn (and doesn’t exist).
The hard truth is this: you are either doing or you are not.

I learned this recently. It appears that I have (finally) broken through and shattered some issues around food and other things—learning that I can conquer this stuff, that I can change for good. I can make real progress—when I get out of my way and quit lying to myself. But in order to do that, I must not only be disciplined but I have to be honest with myself. I have to see where I am to understand where I am going—and where I want to go. I must trust myself. I must change myself. I cannot rely on this mystical creature called “motivation.”

Every day I must wake up and know with everything in me that I will do the things that I have set out to do. I will keep the promises that I have made to myself. Whether those promises are: go to the gym and get in the workout, eat better today, or go to sleep earlier—I make a concerted effort to keep the promises to myself in the same manner that I would make this promise to one of my kiddos.

We get off track and find ourselves all over the place when we rely on external false factors like “motivation” and “hope.” Motivation and hope are great things—but they are only real in the face of discipline, hustle, and work. Hopes and dreams are not official modes of transport (as I write in my next book)—they are just part of the extra oomph to support you on your journey.

So for now, let’s stop acting as if motivation will come. Motivation is not coming. We are the only hope—we can only save ourselves.

And as that saying goes: quit waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel—just light that thing up yourself.

And P.S.–You got this.

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, motivational speaker and author of the best-selling book, “Triathlon for the Every Woman.” She is the host of the podcast, “The Same 24 Hours,” and writes at Her next book, “The Year of No Nonsense,” is available December 2019.

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