What Do I Do When I'm Not Motivated to Train?
The words "motivation" and "discipline" get thrown around and hashtagged a million times a day in the world of BJJ social media. There are thousands upon thousands of motivational quote sites that pair up some famous quotes with photos of people sweating or the Grand Canyon. But at the end of the day, what do those words really mean and most importantly, what do you do when you don't feel like training?
Motivation is commonly understood to be the general willingness to do or work on something. Whereas discipline is more of a do something whether you have that general willingness or not. It's important to understand this distinction. Watching UFC 1 and seeing Royce Gracie and his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu defeat practitioners of many other fighting arts, probably motivated millions of people to seek out a BJJ academy, but it has to be discipline that keeps someone studying, training, and getting tapped for 10 or more years until they come close to earning their black belts in the art.
So back to your issue and what you should do when you are not feeling motivated to train. Should you take the day off and rest, hoping to regain some motivation or inspiration to get back to class? Will cruising social media and motivational quote sites get you to your goals? Probably not. Check out the video below from former Navy Seal, BJJ black belt, and author, Jocko Willink as he describes where discipline comes from in his opinion.
In the second video, Jocko gives practical advice for how to smash days when you don't feel like accomplishing what you need to do. Again, discipline for Jocko is something that must come from within and is not something that is going to make you smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside. Check it out.
After watching those videos, I'm sure you're starting to get the picture that discipline is motivation's responsible big brother, who picks up the slack with motivation doesn't feel like working hard and is missing. So what are some practical things you can do if you don't feel like training BJJ?
When you don't feel like training, train anyway!
You are never going to "feel like" training everyday. Unless you are seriously injured, missing training because you don't feel like it is a cardinal sin. If you are nursing any injuries at all, please be careful, but know that there is always something you can be doing. I have seen students who just had knee surgery on the mats, off to the side working their physical therapy moves as the class was going on, just be be there and absorb what they can. By going to train when you don't feel like it, you defeat that voice in your head that tries to convince you that you're too busy, too tired, or not getting any better at BJJ. Coincidentally, this is the same voice that talk to you when you're working on your diet and trying to eat more healthy. This is the same voice that says, "You deserve that (Insert favorite junk food)!" Even if you learn nothing new and go through the motions at class, by going when you think you didn't feel like it, you have automatically leveled up. You have displayed discipline, while the people waiting for motivation are busy watching your 'check in' at the academy and wondering what your secret is.
After forcing yourself to train on a day when you didn't feel like it, take a moment and reflect on how you feel at that moment. With 100% certainty, I can guarantee that you will be glad you trained. No one ever regrets the training session they just finished. The person on the couch regrets the training session they never started.
One of Jocko Willink's main training partners and friends is the legendary American grappler, Dean Lister. Now that you've learned something about smashing through those days when you don't feel motivated, make it a priority to learn from one of the OGs of jiu jitsu with Dean Lister's "Leg Attacks and Grappling Hacks" 4 DVD set available here!