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Motivation Monday: Persistence Wins

Intense pushup.

I was motivated today when I saw a quote: 

"Success is not owned.  It's rented! And the rent is due every day."

Often a quote can strike a chord in our spirit and act as a little catalyst to action that keeps us going. Finding nuggets of inspiration that actually work for you when you need motivation takes time and practice – daily practice. Call it persistence or a never-quit attitude, these things are easy to write and talk about, but often difficult to put into action to push through uncomfortable life challenges. 

Below are a few of my favorite inspirational actions or sayings that people have actually used to push themselves through a challenge or difficult situation.

1. Humor Helps

One of my favorites: "The last one in is a rotten egg."  Now, the story behind this childhood humor will help with understanding how this actually works.

At SEAL Training, the Monday after Hellweek our class was pretty banged up and still aching from the 120 straight hours of training the week before, but happy we made it. We stayed wet the entire week, we were chaffed from head to toe, our feet and joints were still swollen, and we were actually dry and quite comfortable even wearing running shoes instead of combat boots.  So, the first event of Monday morning was a uniform inspection. We failed as a class and were told to get, "Wet and Sandy."  This means run to the ocean, jump in and then roll on the beach until you are covered from head to toe with sand.  We were used to this command as there typically is not a day you do not hear it during the first 7-8 weeks of BUD/S. 

As we shuffled to the beach as a class, there was a slight audible moan from the group. No one wanted to get wet. In fact, for a moment, I was actually scared to even get in the ocean. But when our class Leading Petty Officer (LPO) looks back to the class and says, "well – the last one in is a rotten egg,"we all started laughing and snapped to our senses.

I use that line every time I jump into a swimming pool before 6am on a cold morning, or when I'm about to go on a long run when it is cold and rainy. For pretty much anything that looks like it's uncomfortable and sucks to do, that little saying we all used in grade school works like a charm. It actually changes the mindset and helps you turn the uncomfortable into something a little more comfortable.

2. Competition Breeds Persistence

Have you found that you are more motivated to work out alone when you have a goal to achieve or a competition (race, event) that you entered?  Whether you are in a competition with yourself and your personal record (PR) or the person in front on you while racing, the thought of competition drives many. My story and saying is: "Train to Compete – Not Just Survive."

This has helped me get to the gym or strive to out-run a kid 20 years younger than me for years.  I noticed once at a marathon that there are two types of people who are racing: 1) Those seeking to better previous times and compete to place in the race. And 2), those looking to just finish the race. I noticed the same groups of people at SEAL training too. There were those who came prepared to strive to win every run, swim, or boat race, pushup contest, obstacle course, shooting competition and everything else.  They were true competitors.

And there were also those who had the goal of just passing with the minimum standard or just finishing each event that day. Who do you think thought about quitting more often?  It is true – if you think about competing, you never think about quitting. Those seeking to just survive each day or just finish the race were more likely to not finish or quit along the way.

So "Train to Compete – Not Just Survive" is a mindset that I take to the gym, into my business, and into my daily life.  Any task can be completed and completed well with just these two sayings. One to get you started and the other to help you perform at your best.

My Challenge to You

Take the Lent 40 Day Challenge (start on Ash Wednesday) and better yourself by doing one thing every day that you should be doing and stop doing one thing that you should not be doing. Whether you are religious or not, or practice another faith, see if you can make yourself better than you are today for 40 days. See if you can compete with yourself each day to make yourself better than you were yesterday. By the time you get three weeks into the challenge, you will find you just built a new habit and got rid of an old one!

Some ideas to build a new habit:

45 Day Plan for Beginners

Walk or Run every day for 40 days even if it is just 1 mile a day.

Daily non-impact cardio for 40 days – bike, elliptical, row, swim for a minimum of 15-20 minutes a day.

Do a split routine every day: Upper body PT / Lift one day and Lower body PT / Lift the next in a rotation for 40 days even if it is just a few minutes of pushups one day and squats the next. 

Odd Day – Upper body.  Even Day – Leg Day.

I'll leave you with another saying that may help you push through the 40 Day Challenge. This one comes from a martial arts friend of mine, Lance: 

My first martial arts master told me when I was 14 years old that, "anyone can train when they feel like it, but champions train when they don't feel like it." He follows, "that saying alone has gotten me to the gym more times than I remember."

Daily persistence will get you there. Nothing else.

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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