Three Keys to Sustaining Long-term Motivation

There are three main keys to sustaining motivation and having a long, successful athletic career.

The first key is loving the process. Some people only love outcomes such as championships, fame, or money. These things can be strong motivators at times, but they aren't always reliable. There will be times when you're facing adversity such as a being in a slump or getting injured. At these moments, if you only care about outcomes, then you're likely to get discouraged, lose motivation, and be tempted to give up playing your sport altogether. This is why it's important to love the process, since it gives you a reliable source of motivation to get through adversity and have a long, successful career.

But what exactly does loving the process mean? It means loving all the little things that go into being an athlete. It means loving each step of the journey. It means loving the grind. It mean loving the process of improvement. It means finding joy and meaning in all of the following:
  • Games
  • Practices
  • Workouts
  • Studying film
  • Recovery
  • Eating healthy
  • Learning and practicing sports psychology
  • Leading and being a good teammate
  • The camaraderie of being on a team
Since these things are almost always available, they can provide a constant and reliable source of motivation. Even when you're facing adversity, you can still love the process!

The second key is having strong extrinsic motivation. While loving the process is very important, it's not the only thing you need. There are parts of training that are no fun at all. Waking up early to do a grueling workout is rarely enjoyable. But this is fine. You don't have to love absolutely everything about your sport. As long as you have strong enough motivation, you'll push through the grind, because you know it'll pay off in the end.

Both intrinsic motivation (process) and extrinsic motivation (outcome) are needed for long-term success. You just need to know how to balance them so they complement each other instead of suppress each other. The best athletes have big goals, but they never let their extrinsic motivation ruin their love for the game.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the third key to sustaining long-term motivation is having balance in life and getting your priorities in order. Having balance in life and finding meaning outside of sports greatly helps your mental health and your ability to cope with the stresses of sports. After a bad practice or game, an athlete can mentally recover by being with their family or enjoying their favorite hobby. When athletes care only about sports and have no balance in life, they eventually burnout because they have nothing to help them cope with the stresses of sports.

As an athlete, you need to know that while sports are still important, they aren't life. They're just a means to greater ends such as religion, family, and community. You can still love sports for their own sake, but also use them to become a better person, to serve others, and to build a better life for you and your family. By having your priorities in line, you'll be a happier and mentally healthier athlete, which will not only help you avoid burnout, but will also improve your performance in games.

In summary, here are the three keys to sustaining long-term motivation:
1. Love the process.
2. Have strong extrinsic goals.
3. Find balance in life and get your priorities in line.

If you focus on these three things, you'll set yourself up for long-term success. You'll have both the motivation and coping skills to push through adversity and have a long, successful career!


  1. Motivation is the foundation of not only all athletic effort and accomplishment but for every goal one sets in his life. Without intense desire and determination to improve, all of the other mental factors, confidence, intensity, and emotions, are meaningless. You explained very well what it takes to remain motivated in a sports career. Loving the process is the very first step and it should be there in every aspirant. Willpower, discipline, and regularity are the qualities that sports teach to the students and they also help the students in improving school grades. Extrinsic motivation also plays a big role, somewhere it teaches that one has to come out of their comfort zone to achieve something in life. Thanks for sharing such a helpful post.

  2. I noticed on your list didn't mention medications. I really feel that set me back in life about 20 years. 21-current age of 43. Have all your books which one would you suggest to get first?


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