Committed but not motivated.

goals mental skills Sep 26, 2023

You might be surprised, but no matter how important a particular goal is, you won't always be motivated to go after it. Most of the time, you won't be motivated at all.


No, I'm not trying to depress you. Motivation is an emotion, and relying on a feeling to achieve your goals isn't the best plan. You love your dogs and want them to be in the best condition possible, but do you feel like walking them even in the rain? Likely no. Even Olympic athletes passionate about their chosen sport aren't always motivated to work out and skip dessert.


I'm not saying you're destined for a life of struggle; instead, I want you to understand that it's perfectly okay to want your goals but not feel like chasing them. Most coaches I follow say this is where discipline comes in, but that's not where I start. For me, it's all about the goals I set at the beginning of each year and how I prioritize those goals. With three dogs, multiple sports, and multiple goals in each, I could be chasing a dozen goals in a year. It's fun but requires some prioritizing.


When I look at my goals for the year, there are some I'm really excited about and others that I just need to get done. I admit I don't enjoy all dog sports the same. Some years, I have put off going after an obedience title or breed championship because I prioritized other goals and sports, even though my breed club incentivizes specific titles. And yes, I used the excuse of not being motivated.


But that's not really it. The truth is, there are other goals I want more, and I make time for those in my schedule. If I really want something, I will figure it out. Is that motivation or determination? I call it prioritization. And when I set my goals for the year, I choose maybe two that are important above all the others. I label these "decisions." Having this clarity helps me make choices regarding my busy trial calendar and training schedule.


One year, I decided to finish a big draft (carting) title for two of my Berners. This required a lot of conditioning and meant I would have to travel far and wide to enter certain tests. I worked my dogs in the rain, drove to Texas for a weekend, did a 12-day loop through the Midwest, and even changed supplements and food to support my dogs. I set up systems to support this goal and did what I needed to do. I wasn't always motivated, but I was committed. I kept my focus on my why.


For those of us who are "multi-passionate" and play in many different venues, there will inevitably be some rings we are less excited about. For me, that's conformation. Yet, my breed club (like most breed clubs) has incentives to encourage finishing a dog. Because those incentives (special awards) are important goals, I need to put the conformation shows on my schedule. Am I motivated? No. Am I committed to the goal? Yes.


We don't have to enjoy every part of our crazy dog lives. It's okay to enter a show/test/trial because it's a milestone in a bigger set of goals. From a mindset standpoint, what matters is being fully present once you choose to go. So once I enter a conformation show, I'm in mentally. I embrace my decision to enter and treat it with the same reverence as any other event. I prepare, get present, and am there for my dog. Taking a bad attitude to an event you're not super-stoked about will only make it worse.

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