Will power is overrated.  It doesn’t last very long for most people, is easily sidetracked and given undeserved value in our culture.  People who’re trying to achieve goals usually don’t need more will power, as they’re often told, they need discipline.  Discipline is organization, control and restraint, which is mostly achieved through habit, repetition and self-motivation.

If something is done repetitively it becomes a habit and good habits create the structure for discipline.  The way to create a good habit, or replace an unproductive or destructive habit with a new one, usually starts with self motivation.  Others can offer motivation and support for goals, but ultimately self motivation is what gets players on the court.

Everyone has different ways to motivate themselves, ways which work for them but not for others.  None of these ways are good or bad, better or worse – just different.  Nor are they all or nothing, people can be motivated in a combination of ways depending on circumstances.  Here are 5 common ways that a person can motivate themselves.

Words – People who are motivated by language need to hear or read words of affirmation, inspiration and instruction from themselves and others.

Cali used words as a motivator to turn her 5 mile run on Sunday mornings into a pleasure rather than a chore.  She used this time for mindful meditation and listened to inspirational books or affirmations.  She enjoyed feeling peaceful and centered after the run.

Time – Having control over or “owning” their time is important to some people.  They don’t respond well to having their time (lives) being overly structured or regimented.

Jason thought he had difficulty with discipline and authority, but his actual problem was feeling too confined by his training regimen.  He now runs 5 miles every Sunday morning and banks the miles for the week.  These miles are “unofficial” and not part of his training routine.  He uses the miles during the week to offset his “official” miles, allowing him to take time off when he wants to.  Assuming control of his life (time) is important and motivating. 

Experiences – The people who are motivated by experiences need to do something or have something done for them as an incentive.

Sarah hated her 5 mile Sunday morning run.  She realized she missed the Sunday mornings of her childhood and had an unknown belief that training wasn’t the way they were “supposed to be spent”.  Now, she stops at a coffee shop, buys breakfast and reads a printed newspaper.  She looks forward to her run after linking it to the experience after it.

Need for Community – People who have a need for community want to feel they belong.  They’re motivated by being part of a team.  This can be a problem for tennis players, whose sport is mostly solitary.

Evan and Mia formed an informal training group.  Many people showed up every Sunday morning to run 5 miles together.  Eventually a web site was created, which allowed members to: post and monitor each other’s goals and progress, give and receive encouragement, offer and ask for advice. 

Money and Things – Some people are motivated by money and/or the things they can buy themselves or others. 

Troy has a Sunday morning ritual he does while running 5 miles on the treadmill.  His run doesn’t take long and he uses the time to focus (no electronics) on his “reward board”.  On the wall is a big bulletin board with pictures of the things he wants to buy himself and his family when he becomes a pro – buying for his family is especially motivating.

Motivation is big business – books are written, seminars held and workshops attended.  However, there’s no one size fits all technique.  Motivating yourself is a learned skill that takes work and practice.  It rarely comes naturally to people and is accomplished through trial and error.  But, just like a killer serve, it’s worth the effort to find ways to self motivate.

Nicole Abbott – writer, educator and psycho-therapist

About The Author

Ron has started several businesses around technology and communications. He founded the WorldWide Tennis Association to use his technical skills to improve tennis players ability globally to compete, get ranking and have fun without unnecessary barriers.