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Let the Olympics inspire your motivation!

Posted by Karen M. Wyatt on August 7, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Are you struggling to make some sort of change in your life? Do you have a goal you would sincerely like to accomplish but have given up on numerous times? If so, you are a completely normal person dealing with the natural human resistance to change.

(Read more about Why we fear change)

We are creatures of habit who are most comfortable when things stay the same and don’t threaten our “safe zones.” But we also possess an innate urge to grow and learn and that’s what can drive us crazy. We know we should make some changes in our lives and we would like to be able to do it, but we just can’t find enough motivation to actually make it happen. So we live in a state of disappointment with ourselves and constantly regret our failures.

But every four years we have a chance to observe other normal human beings who have been able to overcome their own resistance to change in a spectacular manner. The Olympic Games provide us with abundant images of people who have struggled and worked for years to achieve the goal of competing there and, perhaps, winning a medal (though the vast majority of Olympic athletes will go home empty-handed.)

In 1976, when I was living alone for the first time in my life in a little studio apartment, I desperately wanted to create a healthy lifestyle for myself as a young adult. I set a goal of getting up early every morning to go for a run, but I was having difficulty actually living up to my plan. Each morning the warm comfort of my bed would lure me to stay asleep a little longer rather than face the chilly dawn.

But then one evening I watched the Summer Olympics and saw a tiny Romanian gymnast, Nadia Comaneci, achieve the first-ever perfect 10 score on the uneven parallel bars. I was stunned by the perfection of her performance and moved by the story of how hard she had trained for most of her life to accomplish that feat.

From that moment on I could not stop thinking about Nadia Comaneci. I would see her arms upraised and her head arched toward the sky after “sticking” a perfect landing and I would get tears in my eyes; that little girl became my mentor. When my alarm clock went off and it was time to get up and exercise, my mind would ask the usual question “Why bother?” But I now had the answer: “Because Nadia isn’t staying in bed, she’s working out.”

So day after day I found a reason to get up and run and I soon started getting fitter and faster. Within a few months, exercising every morning had become a habit I couldn’t live without. I still thought briefly of Nadia each day, but I no longer had to convince myself that getting up early was the right thing to do. I had embraced the change and would never go back again to my slothful ways. And even though I would never win a medal or score a perfect 10, I felt the satisfaction of aspiring toward and accomplishing an important goal.

So if you are struggling to make a change in your life, these Olympic Games are a perfect opportunity to find some inspiration and motivation in the athletes you see perform and the stories you hear. Take some time to watch your favorite events and find your “Nadia.” Recognize that you, too, are capable of reaching for extraordinary goals and training yourself to achieve them if you keep trying and don’t give up.

Categories: Current Events, Sports, Transformation

Copyright ©2010 Karen Wyatt, MD

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