Four Lessons on Motivation from Four Days of Boot Camp

(Technically, this is going up after boot camp day #6, but I wrote most of it over the weekend.)

The biggest surprise after four days of boot camp? I reckon I could see this damn programme right out to the end.

That’s interesting for two reasons:

  1. As I mentioned in my last post, my immediate reaction to an eight week boot camp was “hell, no!”, and
  2. I’ve been notoriously bad at seeing projects out to the finish.

What’s the difference between this activity – which involves sustained, intense physical action at inconvenient hours of the day – and others I’ve abandoned in the past, like my second and third tilts at NaNoWriMo, my other attempts to write a novel and the like?

Well, for starters, this is physical activity instead of skull-sweat work like I’ve done before (except for that time I tried one of the basic routines out of Mark Lauren’s You Are Your Own Gym, a book I think I may have to come back to once these eight weeks are out). It’s straight up, my willpower vs. exhaustion and lactic acid, a simple yet very trying challenge. It’s clear-cut and well-defined: In the next series of moments you need to do X push-ups. Then Y side-planks. Then Z burpees.

1. An externally imposed schedule.

When Deena brought me on board, she was straight up about when the sessions were: Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. Start time, finish time. Bam, done. It’s six days a week, sure, but it’s clear and I can work out what I’ll have to do to make sure I make it.

Which gives me some lessons for the things I take on myself. With the boot camps, all I needed to do was tell Vickie where I was going to be when and what I was doing. It’s something I haven’t often done when it comes to my own projects; a fear that Vickie would tell me I was foolish for putting the time / work in resulted in me “sneaking” the time in on early mornings and in lunchtimes. In future I still might get up early and work during my lunch beaks (and maybe the odd evening as well, if needed) but I’ll be sure to talk about the schedule with my wife before I get stuck in.

2. No homework.

I turn up, I do the hour session, I go home (or to work). There’s no expectation of having to carve out more of my own time to study a thing for next session; it’s just do these exercises, keep the momentum going for an hour, and I’m done. It’s easy to compartmentalise – I’m either doing it at the set time or I’m doing something else.

There’s also the factor of only having to dread the next session for its own sake, not because there was something I was meant to do (and didn’t) in the meantime. Heck, don’t you remember that sick feeling of having forgotten / neglected your homework in the last course you did? Yeah, I’d like to avoid being there ever again, thank you.

3. Helping someone else out.

The reason why I said yes (or got talked into saying yes, depending on yow you look at it) is that I’m helping my step-daughter Deena achieve her certification in personal training; she’s got to show her assessors that she can train a complete newbie like myself in boot camps so that they’ll trust her to run one of her own. It’s always something that I keep in mind when I get a bit “God, my life sucks” about it – I remember that it’s not just about me. And that something I couldn’t really say about TAFE or Uni – I wasn’t doing them to help someone else.

But on the subject of me:

4. I have a reason for doing it and gain a benefit out of doing it.

This is a big one. I cruised through my school career basically because I had to be there; I grasped “education is good” as an intellectual concept but could never embrace it emotionally. It was just somewhere I didn’t enjoy but had to go to, so I went.

University and TAFE were much the same: I was meant to be learning skills that would help me get and keep a job, but I didn’t know what job I wanted and basically chose IT because folks told me it was what I should be doing. (I hate being a people-pleaser.)

In this case, though, I’m coming to embracing the emotional concept of breathing better, moving better, becoming sound in body as a significant part of becoming sound in mind. That’s my benefit.

But the reason is proving to myself that, yes, I can embrace discomfort, and that if I ever sit down at my keyboard and wonder if I can see out an hour of writing / freelancing time, I can look at those hour-long blocks of boot camp that I stuck with and say, “I embraced that discomfort; this is nothing in comparison.”

Plus there’s the fact that I’m doing it not just for me, but for Deena as well is a big part of that “knowing why I’m there”. I’m actually investing a significant chunk of my waking hours to help someone out with something tough. If I ever needed proof that I can be useful to others in this world, here it is.

Are you curious?

What lessons on motivation did you learn from a recent or current endeavour?

Big thanks again to Actin Fitness for the featured image. Yes, that’s me punching on in the bottom right corner.

  • Peg

    Goodonya, mate! What am I learning about a new push? I’m learning that I’m not totally useless when it comes to computers and that creating databases isn’t as hard as I’d always envisioned. *lol* Not when you use a helper program like FileMakerPro, anyway. I’m learning that my IT skills are valuable, that *I’m* valuable. It’s kind of a neat feeling.

    • Rob F.

      That’s great to read, Peg! And what’s this “totally useless” crap anyway, Miss Mac Expert?

      Yeah, it is a neat feeling! I’ve been thinking about that feeling lately and how we ougth to feel it a lot more, because there’s so much we do every day that we don’t even recognise.

      • Peg

        Macs aren’t common in this area and there are quite a few times when I have to hit the books to figure out what’s wrong with mine.*g* But thank you for the thought. I’m working on a PC at the food bank, which makes for some interesting times. *lol* There’s no command key. I have to use control… I have to remember to use control. 😉 I managed to get to Chapter 4 of “The Missing Manual: FileMakerPro12” but I find myself having to start again. My contribution, so to speak, to NaNoWriMo will be to write notes for all 20 chapters by the end of the month and hopefully have them typed up.

        • Rob F.

          Command and Control – I’m sure there’s a military joke in there somewhere! Good luck with NaNo!