How Do You Stay Motivated?

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BJJ enables you to overcome bigger, stronger opponents.

At the Jiu-Jitsu Times, reader questions are special to us writers because they give us an opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to us.  I recently got a question about staying self-motivated from an old friend, Rob, who was often my training partner when I was on my high school’s wrestling team 16-17 years ago:

Do you have any suggestions for staying motivated?  My training has always been spotty.  Just curious since you never seem to fall off the wagon.  Hope all is well!

Being self-motivated has to come from within.  You have to want something from your training and see that want in some way fulfilled in order to remain self-motivated.

For me self-motivation is derived in two ways:

  1. I set challenging yet attainable goals and then smash them.
  2. I have fun when I train.

Many of us who train are adults who spend our hard earned money and limited time doing something that can be extremely frustrating, sometimes painful, and often difficult.  Unless we derive some sort of satisfaction from it, we won’t stick with it.

I almost dropped off a few years back.  I felt like I was stagnating, I didn’t have good relationships with my teammates at the time, and I wasn’t having fun.  Because I have been doing martial arts since I was 8, I wasn’t willing to abandon training yet, but I was only really training 2-3 days a week, and I wasn’t thrilled to go train.  It was more of a chore for me.

The biggest thing for me was to find training partners that I connect with.  People that on any given day can submit me, but the next day I can submit them.  It’s important to feel challenged, but also feel like you’re getting somewhere.  If the only people you roll with are those that can easily beat you, or those you can easily beat, the game starts to feel fixed.

A while back I wrote an article about setting goals. The gist of this is that rather than set lofty competition-oriented goals, set goals you are in full control of, ones that you can accomplish, and then smash them.  That is to say: rather than setting a goal of reaching your brown belt by X year, or winning X competition, set out to hit a certain number of repetitions on a specific move, to roll a certain number of times per class period, or to add another training session per week.

Another way that I’ve motivated myself to train is to find friends on my team.  Having people with whom I share interests outside of jiu-jitsu within the jiu-jitsu community around me keeps me interested in seeing those people.  Jiu-jitsu is after all a social sport.  When you feel unmotivated, talk to these people and ask them to help you remain motivated.

One last thing thing you can do to remain motivated short term is prepare for something.  Choose a competition in the near future and focus on prepping for it.  If you go and lose, choose another one to make up for it.  If you go and win, choose another one to re-experience your glory!

Staying motivated is hard.  What are some ways that those of you out there who have experienced what Rob has experienced (and gotten over it) have found to remain motivated?

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Emil Fischer is an active brown belt competitor under Pablo Angel Castro III training at Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center near Cleveland Ohio (www.strongstyle.com) and teaching at Ground Up BJJ (http://mpcle.com/class/ground-up-bjj/.) For more information, other articles, and competition videos check out his athlete pages at www.facebook.com/emilfischerbjj www.twitter.com/Emil_Fischer and https://instagram.com/emilfischerbjj/. Emil is sponsored by Meerkatsu (www.Meerkatsu.com, discount code EmilKatsu), Eddy's On Coventry, Cleveland Cryo (www.clevelandcryo.net discount code EmilCryo,) NottaRookie, The Terphouse (www.TheTerphouse.com, used discount code COOKIES), Trap And Roll Soap Company (www.trapandrollsoap.com discount code COOKIES) Impact Mouthguards (www.impactmouthguards.com discount code EMILIMPACT), North South Jiu Jitsu Underwear, as well as a brand ambassador for Ludwig Van (www.ludwigvantheman.com discount code FAMILY) and Vanguard Kimono.
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