Updated: Apr 24
My alarm goes off most days around 5am. Sometimes a little earlier, occasionally a little later. I get up this early to train. I have no other reason to be up: I work for myself so choose my hours, I don't have children to prepare for their day and I don't have a dog to walk before work. For many people this might seem an unusual practice and I often get asked why.
When you ask someone why they train they usually don't know the answer themselves or give a standard 'to be healthier' or 'to loose weight' response. The 'why' of your training is important, what has actually made you commit to the practice in the first place but that isn't what I'm asking in this article. I am curious: what makes you go workout on each individual occasion.
I had this conversation recently and we ended up talking about motivation, inspiration and drive and the big differences between them and it got me excited to write this post.
Motivation is defined as 'a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way' and we have all most likely felt or described ourselves as motivated to do something. Often our motivation comes from external factors such as seeing someone else do something, hearing positive or negative information about something or we find pieces of music, art or discussion that impact us. All of these are external factors. Although it might light you up and prompt action motivation requires someone or something else to light the touch paper.
Inspiration differs in its description: 'the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.' Using 'mentally' might suggest some form of internal factor that would make it different motivation but to me this words are so close they are the same. And to me they are both hinged on external things impacting you.
I rarely hear anyone tell me they felt inspired or motivated from within their own thought or self. They genuinely have had something or someone else provide the stimulus.
Enter drive. I always considered myself a very motivated person because I love to train, to work hard and to achieve things. I would describe myself as motivated. But after this conversation I have decided it isn't motivation that makes me get up at 5am or return to the gym for a second session or even what pushes me in other aspect of my life. It is drive.
Of the three (motivation, inspiration and drive) I think drive is the only truly internal, self created factor that will make us work. Drive is what makes people commit long term to a training method. Drive is what keeps people progressing beyond their set goals. Drive is what keeps people focused and on track when times get challenging.
This isn't to say I don't get motivated or inspired, I do. I see others achieve and it motivates me. I read someone's words or listen to them talk and feel inspired. But both of those feelings pass. Inspiration and motivation only remain for as long as the stimulus that prompted them is at the front of our thoughts. As soon as it drifts away our enthusiasm does to.
Drive doesn't fade so easily. Drive is the story we tell ourselves internally that makes us do the things that we do. It is what you can lean on when you feel unable, less enthused or tired. Drive will make you work when you are unmotivated and uninspired.
Your 'why' for training is the reason you commit to process as a whole but what makes you go in for each individual session: motivation, inspiration, drive or maybe guilt? Whatever the answer it is worth acknowledging it so you know when you don't feel like committing today what you need to do to rekindle that fire.