I’m about share something that only my wife knows. I call it “how to increase motivation.” But really, it’s “how to live life.” Every single morning I wake up at the crack of dawn and start the first 15 minutes of my day the same way.
Five minutes are spent making a list of everything I’m thankful for—but none can be material objects. This is not a list of what I’ve earned; it’s about the things that have unlimited value.
The next 10 minutes are dedicated to a different list—one that identifies how I will take charge, knock down doors, and bite into life with a passion that was greater than the previous day.
The goal is to just push yourself. Because when you push yourself, good things happen.
One is a gratitude list. The other is about goals and lighting a fire in my belly that will fuel me throughout the day. It’s my pregame speech. Mickey yelling at me to work harder and not be a bum. Pacino telling me about Any Given Sunday. And I do it every day.
I realize that some people aren’t wired like me, but I don’t think my habits are unique. They are fueled and inspired by something else—my time in the gym. While my business revolves around the fitness industry and includes training, most of what I do happens outside the gym.
And yet, so much of what I learn in the gym and accomplish in life is made possible by my willingness to challenge myself to become better every time I train. I wrote in Man 2.0: Engineering the Alpha that “success breeds success.” We are creatures of reinforcement. Find something you can succeed at, and then use that help you believe that you can succeed at other tasks. That’s the real reason I enjoy working out.
It’s not about the six-pack abs or looking good in the mirror. It’s about another form of confidence: The type you have in yourself to take on life, accomplish your goals, and feel good.
If this is something you’re seeking, take the next two minutes and read this incredible article by Jim Smith. The first time I read it I was amazed. It takes you in one direction and then completely surprises you, yet leaves you feeling inspired and excited to take on a new challenge. If you’re looking for more energy or just some instant motivation, let Smitty’s words be your charge. -Born
By Jim Smith
I’ve always loved training.
Even from the very first time I picked up a weight as a scrawny 15 year old wrestler, I knew it was something I would do for the rest of my life.
I loved how training made me feel and I loved finding out how hard I could really push myself. I never knew then that training would help me find my calling as a coach or that I would be helping others reach their goals in the gym and on the field, but that is exactly what happened.
Training has become a way of life for me over the last 25 years.
Being the Best?
Over the years, I’ve developed the mindset that whatever you do, you should try to do your very best and try to be the very best.
But it hasn’t always been an easy road.
One funny story that I’ve never told is about the very first time I benched pressed. It was at the high school and my wrestling team was working out. They started with quarters on the bar – or 95 lbs – and I got crushed! I was so confused. I grew up on a farm and I threw 50-75 lb hay bales around every summer and I thought I was strong; even though I weighed in at a whopping 95 lbs soaking wet.
It was at that point that I vowed to start training on a regular basis, and I haven’t stopped in all of these years.
One of the biggest problems I had early on was always comparing myself to what others were lifting. This caused me to go too heavy on lifts where my form wasn’t great in the first place. Yes, I got injured, but because I was young, I bounced back quickly.
It took time but I slowly learned that I didn’t have to beat anyone else in the gym, I just had to conquer myself. Training changed my mindset. It stopped being about getting through the workout that was on a piece of paper or comparing myself to others, and became a challenge that I had to face every time I stepped into the gym. And no matter what the challenge, I wasn’t going to break.
I had to smash down the self-imposed limitations in my mind around what I was capable of doing and training did that for me. The weights became inconsequential and my effort became my focus.
Hitting a max effort rep on the bench isn’t about the actual rep. It is about the doubt creeps into your mind when you unrack the bar, refocusing your mind, intensifying your will, harnessing your strength and going down with the weight and grinding the bar back to lockout with everything you have.
That is training.
That is life.
Resolving in your mind that you will give nothing but your absolute best in the face of any struggle. Throwing down a last set of squats and saying f*ck it and dropping the weight 50% and crushing a set of 50 reps to finish off. Going outside after heavy deadlifts and pushing the prowler around the building on a hot day when the pavement feels like glue; until blood shoots out of your eyes. Hitting dumbbell bench until your chest explodes, not for 3 sets of 8 reps, but for 100 reps in the fewest sets possible.
I no longer try and keep up with anyone and their numbers. I use others who are stronger than me to inspire (not compare myself against) me to push harder in my own training. Thinking of Jim Wendler hitting squats or John Meadows crushing his insane workouts humble me to go further; further in my mind.
Because I know the harder I push myself in training, the easier and simpler life becomes. I can brush off everyday obstacles and keep driving forward.
That is the mindset of a successful person and of a champion. No matter the task, no matter the struggle, they will overcome through relentlessness and consistency.
At some point in your life you really have to find out what you’re made of and training might also be that path for you.
I did a SEALFIT challenge last year and it was one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had in my life. I trained for six months prior to the event and gave it everything I had.
Did I dominate the challenge?
No, it crushed me.
But it taught me the mind is powerful and we have to develop it every day. And your mind will be there when your body gives up. Every next step, next breath, next rep – can become a small victory. And when you add up all of those small victories, you achieve greatness. As long as you never stop moving, you will get to the end.
SEALFIT became another victory that I could use when life smacked me in the face and I’ve used this strength to go further in my mind, my training and my life.
Getting outside of the typical workout schemes can help you push the limits in your training. A few ways that I’ve found that work best for me is including different high-itensity training protocols into my workouts. Training that includes heavy dropsets, rest-pause training, slow eccentrics, and high volume sets, can take your strength, muscle mass, and mindset to new levels.
It really doesn’t matter which one you use. The goal is to just push yourself. Because when you push yourself, good things happen.
The idea is to find yourself and create or rebuild the person who you’ve been hiding away. You will be free to be yourself and be able to show up for those who really count on you in a big way. Society has a way of lulling people into complacency and giving them feelings of “I’m not good enough” or hopelessness.
Never feel sorry for yourself and never let others give you your self-worth. Your life can change in an instant and it all starts with changing your mindset. You can change who you are today in an instant when you decide ‘enough is enough.’
Motivation and More
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim is a proud Dad, strength coach, and entrepreneur. Co-author of the best selling Athletic Development Training system and co-founder of the CPPS certification for coaches, Jim has been recognized as one of the ‘most innovative coaches’ in the fitness industry. Jim is regularly featured in Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness.
Adam Bornstein is a New York Times bestselling author and, according to The Huffington Post, “one of the most inspiring sources in all of health and fitness.” An award-winning writer and editor, Bornstein was the Fitness and Nutrition editor for Men’s Health, Editorial Director at LIVESTRONG.com, and a columnist for SHAPE, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness. He’s also a nutrition and fitness advisor for LeBron James, Cindy Crawford, Lindsey Vonn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. His work has been featured in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Fast Company, ESPN, and GQ, and he’s appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, E! News, and The Cheddar.