What sorts of motivational sayings motivate you?

I’m a sucker for motivational posters and sayings about fitness and sports. They stream through my newsfeed on a regular basis. Mostly, as long as they’re not accompanied by a fitspo style image, they make me smile.

And that’s odd because I don’t like inspirational sayings and posters generally, about life, love, education, achievement. The Faculty of Graduate Studies at my university used to have them in every room in which a thesis exam could possibly be held and they drove me batty. Eagles soaring, salmon swimming upstream, misty mountaintops ruled those rooms. I wondered for awhile if we switched them all to demovational posters overnight how long it might take people to notice.

If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job.  The kind robots will be doing soon.

But even though I like inspirational posters when it comes to sports and fitness., I recognize that different sorts of slogans work for different people. See my disagreement with Tracy in the comments section beneath this post here.

Now, I admit my standards of evaluation are rather narrow. I just ask if they work as motivational sayings. Do they motivate me to action or make me feel bad, or feel happy and not motivated? Often I’m putting my philosopher’s hat aside and not evaluating them as ‘deep truths.’ I don’t even ask if they’re true at all. Most have a kernel of truth. And that’s enough for me.

Are there kinds of motivational saying that rub you the wrong way? (“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”? Ugh.)  Are the kinds you really like? (“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle)

7 thoughts on “What sorts of motivational sayings motivate you?

  1. I’m not really into motivational sayings for getting myself motivated for anything.

    Except: When sometimes cycling up a hill that takes extra effort, for whatever reason a little phrase someone told me, runs like a mantra in my head: “use your granny gears to go ’round and ’round to get up”.

    That’s all.

    But as we age, that becomes more and more meaningful at times.

  2. I think the best mantras and “motivational sayings” come up, like Jean said, in the middle of your efffort. Pro triathlete Jamie Thomas talks about this a lot on his blog, how in each race a mantra will come to him that he follows throughout. A lot of times it is music that gets stuck in your head, or just a random word or phrase that comes up (e.g. when he was in a race while his wife was pregnant with their first child, one of his phrases was “Daddy power”). This happens to me a lot. I think the subconscious knows just what words will motivate you or alter your train of thought in a positive way, and it just sends them “up” to you if you’re open to it.

    I always get songs stuck in my head and singing them to myself during races helps, especially on the cycling sections, which get so long.

    One thing that I’m trying to incorporate into my cycling training is having songs on my ipod that are at a set bpm, like 90, which I know I want to have my cadence at for a lot of the time. I guess that’s not quite the same thing as motivational music, but it seems related.

    1. Then there’s the demotivational things we say to ourselves that hurt. I try not to say/think “I hate hills” or “I suck at hills.” I try to focus on strength and patience and I do things like make myself keep my cadence up for x number of pedal strokes before I shift, depending on the hill.

      1. I agree that negative self-talk is the worst, worse than any corny motivational ditty. I’m constantly vigilant about that tendency to talk down to myself.

  3. I like them. “The only bad workout is no workout” is one I think of a lot – especially after a (*ahem*) bad work out. I also love “It’s about progress not perfection.” I keep a bunch of them that speak to me in my Springpad app and look at them when I feel a little low energy – for me it is a quick, easy, cheap, fun “pick me up” that causes no harm.

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