Top 3 Secrets to Motivation in BJJ – How to Get Back into Training After a Long Break
To achieve anything, one requires motivation. We must desire an outcome to move intentionally towards it. Motivation is a potent emotion. It can make you feel like you have boundless energy along with a burning hunger to achieve something. Indeed, it can make us feel unstoppable. Often this sentiment drives our actions, emboldens our choices, and strengthens our resolve when challenges inevitably crop up. Motivation is the spur that we all need to help us struggle and strive towards progress.
However, motivation is not an infinite resource. Like fire, it requires replenishment to keep the embers burning. This is why it can be challenging to get back into the gym after a long break from training. We’ve all been there, and it’s not something to beat yourself up over. It’s important to realize that motivation cannot just be conjured; it must be ignited. Follow our three keys to success to get you ready and back into BJJ in no time.
Action is the ultimate eliminator of stress and frustration. The minute we move towards an outcome we desire or away from an outcome we do not, we can alleviate some of the negative feelings we may have.
One of the best ways to kickstart motivation In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is to start the day with a ‘small win.’ This can be any quick and easy task to achieve, like making the bed, just ensure that it is something that you know you can do every day. A small win in the morning sets up your day to continue achieving, which, in turn, will increase your motivation. Check out this speech by William McRaven, a US Navy Admiral, on the importance of making your bed in the morning.
Discipline is doing what you told yourself you were going to do after the mood you were in has worn off. Discipline is a skill that takes time to develop but can be built through consistent repetition. Motivation gets you started; discipline carries you over the finish line.
To develop discipline, start with attainable goals, such as going to the gym once a week. Or perhaps training for 10 minutes a day. Start small. As long as there is consistency, discipline can be forged, whether it is weekly or daily. Showing up for yourself is a huge motivator to continue, as is seeing improvements along the way. But the only way to see improvements is to have a regular practice that enables growth. To understand discipline, check out this viral speech from Arnold Schwarzenneger here.
Many of the choices we make daily are influenced by habits, not choices. It’s easy to believe that we are choosing specific actions. Still, our brains are very effective at automating activities that are initiated by ‘cues.’ For example, when you get out of bed, you may immediately turn on the kettle or coffee pot without even thinking.
We can take advantage of this process by creating habits that are conducive to our success. This takes time initially, but will eventually be on autopilot. You can explore this in a variety of ways like doing 10 pushups first thing in the morning or getting up at the same time everyday to run before work. New York Times bestselling author James Clear explains how to break bad habits and master good ones here.
Getting back to training BJJ consistently after time off can be challenging for many reasons and finding the motivation to do so is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. Qualifying what success means to you and setting goals towards that objective can be instrumental in sparking your motivation. Both short and long-term goals will be crucial here. Perhaps competing at a major Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournament is a long term goal of yours, but to compete, you must be training regularly, so a short term goal may be to attend classes twice a week as a start. Once you reach that goal, you can begin to add additional sessions in order to prepare for the long term goal. Small wins sustain motivation, so make sure to start with bite-sized chunks to begin with.
Once you have built some confidence in your abilities, it is time to develop your discipline. Although not completely bulletproof, discipline will get you through the inevitable slumps in motivation and other challenges that could potentially disrupt your progress. This can be a trial and error system at times, but having goals that excite and inspire you can lift your spirits and help you stay the course. Spend time meditating on your goals if you ever feel discouraged.
Another vital aspect to bear in mind is not to be too hard on yourself. Do not expect to return to your previous level of BJJ conditioning immediately. It will take a few weeks, at least, before you really start to see significant improvements again. No matter how long the break, it is never too late to return to the gym or an exercise routine. Often we can defeat ourselves with our negative thoughts before we even give ourselves a fighting chance. It doesn’t matter if you fail. It only matters that you keep trying.
2020 has been an unprecedented year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that no one could have ever planned for and the BJJ industry, and likewise, our exercise patterns have been disrupted. If anything, we have had to learn to be patient, take things a little slower, and build in a more sustainable way. Returning to exercise is best approached in the same way. Take time to consider where you are going so that you are not only motivated to go back but that the feeling endures and sees you through to the other side.