PATHFINDER Horizon | How to Stay Motivated

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You're a certifiable badass.

You've done the events.

You've rucked the miles.

You've got the patches.

But what if life gets the better of you and you find yourself behind on your programming? What if you find your motivation waning? What if, after upping your programming or pace, you find yourself feeling less motivated? Even if you're an old pro, there's no shame in losing your motivation. It really does happen to all of us at one point or another. With that in mind, we've compiled some tips to help you regain your footing and get your groove back.

Is it Motivation? Or is it Discipline?

Motivation and discipline are fundamentally two different things. We want to clarify the difference between them first because it might go a long way in helping you define where you stand.

Your goal gives meaning to your motivation. Your discipline is what gives meaning to your goal. Motivation is often the bright, shiny mental picture of yourself at the end of your task. Sometimes, that picture can be enough to send you through the finish line. Sometimes, not.

Discipline is what you choose to do between imagining the cadre clasping the patch in your hand and actually sticking the patch to your board. I call it, "eating your vegetables." It's the things you have to do to get to your goal when you don't want to. It's your routine. It's when you put your workout into your calendar and you don't book anything else around it, and then you do it. Often, discipline requires some serious self-awareness of your personal pitfalls. Discipline is a challenge, but an essential part of truly achieving your goal.


We all know the multiple cliches about planning. But in order to stay disciplined and motivated, you have to plan. Some of us are natural planners - we know our goal and follow the path thats been set. But if that's not you right now, it can be.

An effective way to plan is to block time off in the morning and get an early start. The benefits of working out in the morning are significant, and often, we can wake up early enough to accomplish what we need to before the rest of our day barges in.

Set up your S.M.A.R.T. goals. I'll talk about this more in another blog post, but briefly, SMART goals are:

  • Specific: Your goal states exactly what is to be attained
  • Measurable: How will you know you're making progress?
  • Attainable: Can you attain your goal? What's within the realm of possibility, and can you be committed enough to achieve your goal?
  • Relevant: Does it jibe with your current needs and abilities?
  • Time-bound: What's your timeline for achievement? Are you self-evaluating enough to monitor your progress?

Plan ahead. On an off-day, or in a quiet block of time, plan your schedule for the week. Consider all your other obligations, and make a realistic plan of attack for fitting training into challenging weeks. For instance, if you have a conference call that always runs long, should you really plan training after that and jeopardize time you might not have? Or maybe you have the ability to cut things short and reclaim your time. Sometimes, we give our time to less important purposes because it's hard to say 'no.' Think about what extras you might need to take off your plate.

Do it. Even if you don't want to.

Joe Merritt, a class participant from Horizon Beta 002, reminds us, "Once you win the battle in your mind, and you become driven, your body will adapt to anything and you will overcome...Just don't forget your WHY and dig those heels in." Remembering your 'Why,' whether it's to beast an event, improve your time, or maybe even a more personal reason, is a great motivator to continue along your path. If you haven't yet considered your 'why,' now is a great time. 

Jennifer Lee, a Horizon CA, says, "I may not always feel like exercising beforehand, but once I get out and start, during exercise and even more so after exercise I feel so much better than I did before...mentally and physically. It's good to get the blood pumping through my veins. Warming up with some stretching helps me get from not wanting to move to feeling more ready." Remembering the way you feel after exercise can help get you moving. Endorphins rewarding your brain for your efforts feel so good, and just thinking about how that feels prior to a workout can increase your motivation.

If you've been seated all day at work, motivation to continue your discipline can temporarily lag too. Making a plan to ruck after work and having your gear waiting in the car can remind you of your commitment.

Sign up for an event

"Being signed up for an event helps me because it feels real. When I know there are ...teammates counting on me to be well trained, it's extra motivation not to slack off." Jennifer Lee 

Signing up for an event and the anticipation of teammates relying on you can be a powerful motivator to train. "I...say this often to myself, "you don't get something for nothing." I know that I want to be ready for my event, which means I have to do the work." Shannon Bass, PATHFINDER Horizon CA, has an excellent point. No one wants to be the weak link in their team, and the best way to avoid that is to have discipline over your training regimen.

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Marines know it. Even if you're not though, having the ability to improvise, adapt and overcome is a life skill worth getting. Looking at challenging situations, whether they have to do with time or family constraints, weather or work, and deciding how to adapt current situations to fit future goals, can re-train your brain to focus on the positive. Meeting a problem head-on is an important skill to have. Shannon Bass, Horizon CA, says, "The biggest thing is not to get too discouraged by small setbacks...keep looking to what CAN be done as you move forward." 

Choosing to view training as important as, say, brushing your teeth can create a protective space around your block of training time. I mean, you wouldn't skip brushing your teeth, right? While you can't expect your schedule to always be the same, you can spot an opportunity every day to do something related to your training plan, even if that means breaking a WOD up into three different chunks during the day.

As we all know by now, it's crucial to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Sure, we can get comfortable in freezing, muddy conditions and force ourselves to lug horrible things for horrible distances. But getting comfortable being uncomfortable also applies to your scheduling. It may mean you ruck during your lunch period, or when you get home at night. It may mean waking up at 4:00 AM. But in order to be disciplined, and keep your eye on the prize, it's a skill you've got to acquire, and then USE.   

Get an Accountability Buddy (online or in person)

One of the best things PATHFINDER has to offer is community. Finding an accountability buddy, whether met through a PATHFINDER Facebook group, or a friend in a ruck club who's training for an event, can be a great resource to keep your motivation up and your discipline dialed in.

Ask them to check in to make sure you're following your plan and staying committed. Having someone remind you they're counting on you, and you're counting on them, can create a powerful positive feedback loop. Accountability buddies can also help you move out of your comfort zone, or suggest you that you might've pushed yourself too far. Having an accountability buddy is a two-way-street too. Connect regularly, be reliable and offer honest feedback when asked or as needed.   

Take a Break

Lastly, your motivation and discipline might be waning because there are legitimate obstacles in your way that you cannot move. If there is pressure in life outside of training, adding the extra demands of a training schedule might be more than you can truly take. If those are your circumstances, it's okay to take a break and try again when life has opened a little more space up. Deciding that now might not be the best time to train can be disappointing, and bring up some uncomfortable feelings, but know that you are not a failure because you couldn't do it all. Taking a break is sometimes a necessary step to protect your goal for the future, rather than souring on it because you overworked yourself.

Whatever the case may be, we hope we've armed you with enough tools to stay motivated and disciplined to reach your goal.