“What’s your Why?”
— Every motivational speaker
Being able to articulate your “Why” has become a bit cliché in the world of personal development. Doing a quick Amazon search for the word “why” comes up with quite a few pretty interesting books – I might have to get me some of those – but the point is that the topic has been well documented and examined from all angles.
But phrases and topics become cliché because there is a lot of truth and value to them, and before we discard them as overused we should pause and take note.
I don’t want to train today. Yesterday was pretty rough, and today’s training session looks even worse. Even though my plan for the week was to get in the gym three days in a row, I’m ready to throw in the towel today and QUIT. Just for today…
What’s your Why?
I pushed it too hard in the gym today. My shoulder was hurting as I started moving up in weight on the snatches, but I pushed through it because I wanted to beat my buddy in the 6am class. Now it really hurts to move it at all and I think I hurt myself…
What’s your Why?
Answering that simple question without a lot of thought could be a mistake. But so could answering it and then forgetting about it, especially when taking a few seconds to align with our Why could guide our decision-making process in the examples above and even in a broader sense.
My Why that I think about for physical training is to provide the best possible example for my two boys to look up to. Boom. It’s very personal to me, and it ties my training in the gym to something (or someone) that I love very much. I feel accountable to them and responsible for training in a way that reflects that.
In the first example above, when the feelings of “this sucks, I don’t want to do it” come up, I can think about setting the standard. How would I respond to my oldest son if he said something to that effect to me? If I respond with “suck it up, this is when you get mentally stronger,” or something awesome like that, will I have the experiential capital to back that speech up? Or will he remind me that I usually back down when presented with a challenge like a hard workout?
How about in the second example? My Why swimming around in my head like a mantra “for the boys, for the boys, for the boys,” will check me in my decision to keep on pushing through what feels like an injury waiting to happen. Because if I injure myself training, what example does that set? That it’s OK to make reckless decisions? There is a difference between toughness and recklessness. I want to be on the tough (and uninjured) side.
Before your next training session, check in with your Why. Use it to guide how you will approach the training that day. Use it to stay motivated, and to make good decisions when the shit hits the fan.
If you don’t know Why you are training, now is the time to figure that out! Do you have a vision of who you would like to become through training, or what you’d like to accomplish – like an event goal? Do you, like me, see yourself in a leadership role – who are you accountable to? Are you training for a sport or a job that you need to stay physically prepared for?
Training in the gym, whether it’s CrossFit or weightlifting or yoga, can be really hard. It’s physically demanding, which becomes mentally and emotionally demanding to keep going. We must know Why we are there, in the arena, ready for what comes next. If we can see how our training plan aligns with our Why, we’ll find that motivation to stay strong and resilient, to show up when we don’t feel like it but we know it will move us one step closer to our goal.
So, tell me – What’s your Why?