What’s the difference between motivation and commitment?
If you follow my Mental Skills Training for Athlete’s (MSTA) Facebook page you may know that a few weeks ago I let the fans choose what my next blog topic would be. You may also know that my latest MSTA update was to get thoughts on the difference between motivation and commitment (there were some great responses, it’s worth a read!). I’ve been mulling over this thought, letting it roll around in my gray matter for the last month now. As per request of a post on the topic of motivation, and as we head into the New Year it seems like a great topic to ponder. Everyone is motivated to write resolutions and make changes at the start of a New Year but how many of us are actually committed to seeing them through?
Motivation is such an incredibly fascinating and complex subject. There are so many factors involved in the ebb and flow of an athlete’s motivation. When I think of motivation I think of words like desire and drive. When I think of commitment I think of words like determination, and dedication. Some of you reading this might think “What’s the difference? If you have one then you have the other.”, but I think there are subtle yet important differences between the two that are worth teasing out.
The first questions that come to me as I try to tease out those differences are:
What is commitment without motivation?
What is motivation without commitment?
Motivation and commitment leap frog each other throughout the process of working towards a mission or goal. Motivation is what starts you off on your path and commitment is what sees you through to the end.
Commitment is what keeps you moving when you have a dip in your motivation. Commitment to a goal means that the challenges you face along the way won’t cause you to veer off of your path – they are just temporary setbacks you have to deal with. Commitment to your team means that even when your performance is low, you still support your teammates and want to see your team succeed.
But commitment without motivation is a sure path to burnout. If you are committed to the success of your team, but not motivated you will come to resent your teammates and devalue your role on the team. If you are committed to accomplishing your goal, but not motivated to do so – you may get to the end of the road and feel anger, loss, or even feel nothing instead of being proud of yourself and in awe of the work it took to reach your destination. Commitment is the decision to act on what motivates you. Motivation is the drive that fuels the commitment. Commitment makes it happen, but motivation can make it a lot more fun!
Do you have some goal that seems to be eluding you? Have you repeated the phrase “I really want to ______” countless times, but haven’t seen it come to fruition? It’s time to ask yourself if you really want it and have you really committed to achieving that goal? Have you actually done everything within your control to work in the direction of what you want to achieve? It’s like the saying goes – everyone wants to win on game day… We want all kinds of things, but want and get are two different things. Want is motivation and get is commitment. But sometimes the more difficult thing is admitting to ourselves that we don’t really want it because we aren’t actually willing to commit to what it takes to get it.
So as you get ready to ponder your list of New Year’s Resolutions, ask yourself “What am I really ready to commit to?” This might mean that you just pick ONE thing off that list and put all of your energy into that. Once you’ve done that, maybe you’ll be ready to commit to something else on your list.
P.S. There are so many elements involved that impact our motivation and commitment (how much support you have, your level of confidence, your ability to manage stress, etc,) that this topic is much too complex and awesome to contemplate in one tiny blog post. If you want more tools that foster both motivation and commitment, you can sign up for my newsletter and get a free ebook on the subject!