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Five Ways to Stay Motivated

Published on August 24th, 2017

Hannah Mills, Britain’s double Olympic medalist in the Women’s 470, shares some of the secrets that helped her succeed.

Hannah Mills

Is it possible to always be motivated? Is there a secret trick to make all your dreams and goals a reality, through hard work and staying motivated? Unfortunately, the answer just isn’t that simple.

There are, however, a few little things you can do to help you out when motivation is lacking so you can get back on track, and back in the game.

People often ask me how I manage to stay motivated over a 4 year Olympic cycle when, ultimately, the only thing that actually matters is the 1 week during the Olympic Games. Good question, right?!

Here, I am sharing some of the key tips that have helped me during the difficult times or, more commonly, when there are things that I don’t particularly want to do! Different techniques work for different people, but I think you will find at least some of these strategies will help you keep up your motivation!

1. The End Goal
Write it down. What is it and when do you want to achieve it?. It may seem like a small step, but you’ll find it can be super powerful, because once your goal is written down (or said out loud!) it suddenly becomes real. Then you can work backwards and write smaller goals as markers, or stepping stones along the way.
For example:

Currently, I can just about run 2 miles. I want to be able to run 10 miles in 5 months. You can’t get to 2 weeks before your deadline and panic, cram in loads of running and hope for the best! You have to set smaller goals. So at 6 weeks, you need to be able to run 4 miles… in 12 weeks 6 miles etc.

Break it down and keep it simple. Reaching these smaller goals keeps your motivation levels high, with each marker you get a great feeling of achievement! This makes it even more likely that you are going to carry on and reach your End Goal.

2. Accountability
Make sure that you are held accountable by someone. Appoint a friend, partner, boss or spouse to question you and check in on how you are progressing. I would suggest giving them a copy of your end goal and smaller goals, so they can make sure they check in with you at every small milestone. This works really well for me when I know I have jobs I don’t really want to do!

In my sailing campaign, this was always stuff like making spare ropes, or fixing something on the boat. Things that don’t obviously seem to make a huge impact on the end goal of winning a gold medal, but, if they weren’t done, eventually we would have an issue! Maybe the boat would break in a crucial race, or we wouldn’t have that spare set of ropes when we needed them, so we might miss a training session.

Every few weeks we would sit down and have a mini meeting, over a cup of coffee, to write down all the mundane jobs that needed to be done. Dish them out and have a completion date. It meant that we both knew what we were responsible for and so could be held accountable.

3. Inspiration
Inspiration is my big motivator! Inspiration can come from almost anywhere. I really like inspirational quotes and motivating videos of people achieving things that they never thought they could. Watching the Olympics growing up was where a lot of my vision and dream of winning my own Olympic Gold medal came from.

Find what works for you and use it! I have a Pinterest board of quotes that strike a chord with me – check it out here if you want to:

Ideas for inspiration could be a Ted talk related to what you are trying to do in the workplace or in your personal life; pictures; quotes; videos; real life encounters with unexpectedly extraordinary people… Let me know in the comments section any other ideas of places you find inspiration ☺. The most important thing is that you make them accessible for you to use when you need them.

“Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will” – Karim Seddiki

4. Routine
Make it easy to start the journey. Have a routine which you can stick to without a lot of effort. Some days the weather is just horrible – cold and wet, gloomy skies and stormy seas. We really don’t want to go out sailing, but we know we have to train. Putting our wetsuits on before going outside to sort the boat out means we can’t back out and the routine has been set to go sailing. Similarly, going to the gym – putting your trainers and gym kit on is the start of a routine, but is super easy to do.

5. Reward yourself!!
I am a big believer in this! It is always quite apparent for us, because we get the recognition and a medal when we achieve our goal – hopefully! Along the way, though, it is a little harder. We have World Championships every year, which are often our small milestones. If I know we want to peak for an event, I think about something I really want – maybe a jumper I love that was a little more pricey than I would normally spend and if I achieved my target at the event then I would allow myself to buy it. Be imaginative! It doesn’t always have to be something that costs money!

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