1 – Chase a New Goal or Target
One of the most common mistakes newer lifters make is not having a clearly defined goal or target. But not experienced lifters. They'll always have a target, whether that's a competition, an event, or just competing against their own previous PRs.
To keep the fire burning, look for new challenges and new goals. Re-focus and adapt as you achieve success and/or as the years and decades pass. Some keep their drive up by switching gears. For example, Mark Bell switched from powerlifting to bodybuilding, but it doesn't have to be that extreme.
Remember, working towards a new goal often acts as a new stimulus on the body. Different targets give you the chance to succeed in a new area, and that will help with long-term motivation and confidence.
2 – Continue to Learn and Develop
One of the aspects of the fitness industry that I love is the need for continual learning and development to progress as a coach and lifter. Over the last two decades I've learned so much from certifications and courses, but the biggest area of learning has been seeking advice and reading research from industry peers and experts.
There are far too many to mention, but the vast majority have appeared right here. T Nation is a constant source of information and advice, and my toolkit is always growing.
Whether it's adding an additional exercise, using a twist or variation of a classic exercise, or adopting an entirely new training program, changing or upgrading your training can result in a positive response that will keep you fired up to lift. Just keep learning.
3 – Invest In Your Well Being
Training is a stress, plain and simple. Work, family, and life in general are all additional stressors on the body. While stress is a positive (and required) response, too much can be damaging and mentally draining. And that will significantly affect your performance in lifting and life, leading to disappointing results and lagging motivation.
It's important to focus on keeping the body in a parasympathetic state to help recovery, hormonal balance, and general well being. Basically, you need balance – counters to all that stress. Examples: Sleep at least 8 hours a night, get a massage, supplement wisely, having a morning protocol (meditation/breathing, movement, gratitude, hydration), and even a post-eating protocol, like a 10-20 minute casual walk after the main meal of the day.
4 – Don't Go It Alone
For anyone who's struggling with focus and motivation, a simple tip is to look for a training buddy or lifting group. The right partner or group can immediately and dramatically create a positive response in initial drive and motivation, and keep you accountable.
You can even "progress" this idea by seeking out a new training buddy or group when required. You should never be the number one guy in your group, but you should be striving to be in that position. Once reached, it's time to move on up. Adding training partner(s) can bring fresh ideas and concepts to the forefront.
As a bonus, training in a group can have huge social benefits. That camaraderie can build friendships and bonds that last a lifetime.
5 – Appreciate the Iron
Step back and think about how beautiful, powerful, and impactful the iron can be. First, we should all be grateful that we have the ability to lift. Some people don't.
Second, remember that the gym can be our sanctuary – our place to forget, our place to switch off from the world, our rehab, our antidepressant, our place to right wrongs and to positively change our mindset.