The Journey

By Matthew Sims | Posted: Wednesday August 26, 2020

Growing up I constantly lived in my sister's shadow. She was amazing at everything she did. Sports, cultural and academic, you name it, she was probably really good at it.

To say it was easy to sit back and watch her succeed day in and day out would be a total lie. I wanted to be good at everything like she was. But I was just the kid who was always in the background, pretending to be satisfied with who I was and what I was doing. I needed to unlock the secret so that I could achieve the things that I wanted to achieve and I needed to work out how I could be successful too. The answer was to be found in a four-syllable word. “Motivation”

What is motivation? Motivation is the desire to act in the service of a goal. It's the crucial element in setting and attaining one's objectives. Motivation can have many sources, and often people have multiple motives for engaging in any one behaviour. Motivation might be extrinsic, whereby a person is inspired by outside forces, other people, or events that transpire. Motivation can also be intrinsic, whereby the inspiration comes from within a person, the desire to improve at a certain activity. According to research by Positive Psychology, intrinsic motivation tends to push people more forcefully, and their accomplishments are more fulfilling.

Let's flashback to when I was in year nine. Would you believe it now if I told you, looking at me, that I played rugby in the front row? I was the slow, chubby, short kid chasing the game, never really keeping up, playing more for friendships, and because my dad wanted me to. I didn’t feel like I was succeeding and I wasn’t enjoying myself. I needed to make a change and it was up to me to do so. I just need motivation. Although motivation did not make me taller, it certainly helped me change other aspects about myself that I could control.

As I stated earlier, there are two types of motivation, extrinsic - being inspired by outside forces and intrinsic being inspired by yourself. Although pushed by my parents for years to play sports and keep fit, I was never interested or passionate until I wanted to do it. My motivation was intrinsic. I was motivated because I wanted it. I wanted to succeed and I wanted to feel better about myself.

My motivation made me make changes, I tried the gym and I found a real passion for working out and doing physical exercise. I quit rugby and started playing two new sports, badminton and volleyball. I was no longer the short kid in basketball. I was being recognised for the hard work I was putting in, along with my commitment to practising.

I have come to notice that external factors can affect your motivation. Comments, negative or positive, can either throw you off or make you stronger. In the beginning, I received a number of comments about my weight. On several occasions in the playground or at PE class, fellow pupils would make personal comments, like “get out of the way fatty” or you’re a “fat such and such.” Initially, I did take these to heart. They made me feel like I wasn't ever going to be good enough. But then it clicked. All those hate comments I received turned into a drive. I felt like I was on that TV show Revenge Body by Khloe Kardashian, getting revenge on all those who once said hateful comments about my size.

My parents got me a gym pass for Xmas and I started going regularly. I worked hard and lost weight, I became fitter and that inspired me to work even harder. I started going to all the sports practices and also practised in my own time. During the summer holidays, I stayed home instead of going away with my family so I could attend volleyball and basketball practices. I felt happy, more confident, and included.

My family has been very supportive of my decisions and me. They have helped me get places, as I can't drive, and they bought me my gym membership as I don’t have a job. Because of these things they have done for me, it motivated me to work even harder. My family did this because they care about me and they liked seeing my new found motivation and wanted it to continue.

My friends help me stay motivated. We go to the gym. We ensure that we push one another so we get maximum results and don't slack off. I find it motivates me when I have someone with me to workout.

With motivation, I discovered this thing called “self-belief”. Once I started to believe in myself and stopped comparing myself to others and focused on what I was doing, I noticed things began to go my way. High self-belief is when you feel confident about something. When I was younger, I had low self-belief - Where I didn’t feel confident about what I was doing but I did have the skill set to do it. If only I had known that it was my attitude that needed to change. I needed to stop focusing on everyone else and take some time to look at myself and what I needed to change. It took a long time for me to realise that I needed to do stuff that made me happy.

I have also discovered how much a coach can influence your motivation. I would almost say they could make or break you. I have one coach in particular who motivates me to compete at my best and work really hard day in and day out. My motivation is increased because I know he believes in me. I have had a few average coaches in my time and quite often they have played a part in me dropping out of the sport as they have focused on the kids who are the stars of the team. Coaches like this reduce my self-confidence and motivation to participate. I start to fear failure and therefore I lose confidence to attempt things. Good coaches focus on everyone and look at the individual talents of the person. They encourage people to continue building on those skills but also identify weaknesses and help improve them. I am motivated by a supportive and encouraging coach.

Now that I am motivated and a self-starter there are still some barriers or hurdles that I have to overcome. One of these is transport, I have no license, no car and my gym and sports practices are located in town some twenty kilometres away. Motivation can easily disappear when confronted with hurdles, it was very easy to say “oh I can’t get to the gym; oh, I just won't go then or I will just stay in bed, but I made sure that I was organised. I approached my family early to arrange transport or I tried to fit it into a very irregular bus timetable. And so I stayed away from getting into the bad habit of using transport as an excuse.

Another factor was time. I have a busy schedule balancing school, sport, cultural activities, and hanging out with friends and family. I think balance is important, but I find that working out or completing some form of physical activity helps me focus and makes me feel better during the day. Because I value all of these and want to implement all of them into my week, I have a schedule that I follow to ensure I do all of these at some stage.

Once I was happy and was doing what I was passionate about, I was starting to see success just like my sister did. I wasn't making the top teams, and I certainly wasn’t a star but I was enjoying myself, I was more confident and had improved my skill levels. I was fitter and happier about myself.

To my sister…

I am sorry I never celebrated your success the way you did for me. I was too caught up in the fact that it wasn't about me. Once I realised that we are all different and things happen at different times for people and I discovered what my passions were, I noticed you were always there by my side, supporting me and celebrating my successes.

The motivation life didn't choose me; I chose the “motivation” life.