What is motivation? We all kind of know what it is, but can we really articulate it or harness the power of it to get the most out of our life and our hobby? And by “our hobby” I mean airsofting, so we could also refer to it as our sport I guess but you know what I mean. Before we delve into this article dear reader do not be troubled, Billy has not been reading Self Help books or become a self-improvement zealot – but I have had a “penny drop” moment recently where I truly grasped the power of Motivation and I would like to share it with you, cos that’s the kind of guy I am.
I looked on my iPhone just now and it told me that motivation was “the act or instance of motivating or providing a reason to act in a certain way”. Cast your minds back, can you remember who said “Don’t Quit. Suffer today and live the rest of your life as a champion.”? Despite the fact that you probably don’t know who it was, you can bet your bottom dollar that this person was not the sort of guy who was at the back of the ice cream queue as a kid, he was a motivated bloke who knew what he wanted (you’ll find the answer is at the end of the article).
I have never been a huge fan of self-help books and I’m not now, but WOWSER!!! I am now a big fan of goal-setting and measured performance on account of doing a coaching course recently. It made me realise that I have, ‘til now, been floundering around doing stuff I liked or felt comfortable doing, rather than doing stuff that would make me better. I am one of these guys that makes lists and ticks off the ones that I like doing and ignore the ones that I don’t want to do, until they enter the lastminute.com category and then they get done because there’s a crisis round the corner if it doesn’t!
So where do you think I was going wrong? Lists are great right? Well yeah, but they are just a tool, they are not an end in themselves, all I was achieving really was finishing all the things on the list. What I had failed to do (and this may come as a surprise, as I am a middle aged bloke who should have thought of this a long time ago) was I hadn’t really set any goals.
All our greatest Men and Women have one thing in common, they pushed themselves because they had a vision and they set goals, wrote a plan and stuck to it and were triumphant. Let’s look at Prince Harry (he’s great isn’t he?) and the spirited, inspiring injured and limbless British Servicemen that tabbed to the Antarctic South Pole, raising awareness and funds for Help for Heroes on the way. You can bet your Christmas stocking that they set goals. The wonderful Nelson Mandela who had the finest qualities of a human being could possible hope for had goals, motivation and all the other stuff in abundance.
So let’s get a pen and a notebook (that you’ll dedicate to this task) and take a minute or two to set some goals in the context of our sport of airsofting and the desire to get better at it, to improve.
We’ll use the GROW model: Goals – Reality – Options – Will
GOALS: Each goal should have a separate page with clearly defined targets, so for example if you want to improve your airsofting but…
1. You’re a bit chubby.
2. Are always getting lost when gaming because you follow everyone else around until you lose them.
3. Aren’t very forthcoming/confident and just let the big mouths take charge because they’ve been doing it longer than you and you never get the opportunity to take the lead or have a say.
4. Your kit’s a mess and you can never afford a decent weapon or Gucci pyro.
Write them all down on a separate pages and prioritise them in order of importance.
1. Lose weight/get fitter.
2. Improve your map reading.
3. Improve your confidence.
4. Get some decent kit.
OK now the next thing to do is to get real.
Look at the REALITY: Under the “R” of GROW we take stock of where we are right now and think about where we’d like to be, this will need a certain amount of honesty on your part to be effective. If you’re 30 and have never played tennis, Wimbledon Finals success is out I’m afraid! So if you’re not in great shape admit it; I am not nearly as fit as I’d like to be and I haven’t done press ups for as long as I can remember, so my triceps are going to be like elastic bands but I really think it’s worth writing it all down.
1. I’m not nearly fit enough and have been struggling over the last few games. I smoke/drink too much. I can’t remember the last time I had any fruit or cooked a meal from fresh produce but the girl who runs the chippy and the lad from Dominos on the scooter knows my Christian name.
2. I rarely know where I am on a game and this doesn’t help with my self-confidence either.
3. See 2.
4. My kit is a mess but it’s so expensive and it’s almost always out of date as soon as you’ve bought it and something else cool comes along.
Your OPTIONS, do you have the tools for the job – and we’re not talking about a low calorie chocolate drink here either. Is getting fit / going map reading / improving your confidence (get on top of 1 and 2 and I would suggest 3 will be thrown in – buy two get one free) going to be practically possible?
It’s not that you don’t want to do it, of course you do, it’s just that you have 2 kids, a job and your wife is just about OK with you going away one weekend in three to go to games and you simply haven’t got time. Bollocks!! Make time! There’s nearly always time somewhere (if you had a bad toothache, you’d make time to get that sorted!).
It may mean that you have to sacrifice something to fit it in. I’m not suggesting that you give up volunteering for the Samaritans phone line, or coaching little league but if it means letting Eastenders go (it’s not real and it’s just depressing and nasty), I reckon your better half will be happy with the results of some determined self-improvement stuff that sees a fitter, more confident you.
WILL: Have you got the will to do all this, do you want it bad enough? I have on occasions had the opportunity to further my career by doing courses that seem like a logical step further on up the greasy pole. But I didn’t have the will so I saved myself a lot of time and aggro by concentrating on something else. If you haven’t got the will to see it through to the end then don’t start, it might be that it’s just not the right time.
However, if the answer comes back “Yeah baby, let’s do it!” then you make a list of all the steps that you WILL take to get where you want to be.
That’s all dandy but what’s the alternative to not setting goals? I think you can still achieve things without any goal by just cracking on, but you’ll achieve more and do it quicker with goals. When my little girl was a few months away from popping out of mummy’s sunroof, I had a drink with a mate and expressed my worries about coping with a new baby. He confidently informed that it was all down to “Admin” and planning each day out in detail, from a changing table in the nursery to having enough bottles and wipes and making sure they’re to hand all the time. Laying out what she was going to wear all that week in the spare room on Sunday night, putting things straight in the dish washer when used and putting it on every night for the following morning. It made such a huge difference and we have enjoyed every minute of it.
A last word on motivation…
Sir Winston Churchill was once asked to give an after-dinner speech. He stood up, said “Never, never, never give up.” and sat down again. What a guy!
So who said “Don’t Quit. Suffer today and live the rest of your life as a champion”? It was of course Mohamed Ali and what an amazing quote. It quite literally stopped me in my tracks when I saw that on a slide and as soon as I had finished that day I walked straight back to my room, got my PT kit on and went out for a run for an hour with it ringing in my head – and it’s still in there. Powerful stuff eh?
So go out there and find that incentivising trigger, put some goals down on a bit of paper and smash into it.
I’ll end with another Churchillian quote: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”