Motivation vs. Dedication

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

Your passion changes everything.

Last week on the blog, I talked about utilizing the 5 Second Rule as a technique to get yourself up, out the door, and moving your body. Over the past week and a half, I’ve personally challenged myself to STOP hitting the snooze button. I did my count, and I got myself out of bed on that first alarm and right then and there, started my day.

During the week, I found myself waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than I normally do, allowing me to get a jump on my coffee intake, get those mundane tasks done that I have a tendency to put off, and just breathe before my day really kicks into high gear.

(Also, If you haven’t checked out and learned about the 5 Second Rule, pop over to last week’s post. This post will be right here when you get back.)

Something I wasn’t anticipating during the challenge - but noticed rather quickly - was that my afternoons and evenings seemed to become more free. I wasn’t scrambling to get everything done in the evenings and I was able to shut it down. I did things like beach workouts.

I finished a book and started a new one.

I traveled to Durham to see David Byrne.

I could do all of those “fun” activities because I was focused on being productive with my new found extra time in the morning.

The 5 Second Rule forces you outside of your comfort zone, challenging you to face your fears.

This strategy translates nicely into exercise where it can be easy to start off highly motivated, but eventually lose steam and fall face first off the wagon.

Let’s talk about motivation and dedication. They both play pivotal roles in setting, working toward, and achieving your goals.

However, with one hand feeding the other, I’d argue that unless you’re fully dedicated, motivation is only going to take you so far.


Everywhere you turn these days, there’s a quote to get you all pumped up.

I don’t think you can get through a single day with seeing one somewhere out in the world.

Bumper Stickers. “Be Stronger Than Your Excuses”

T-shirts. “Progress, Not Perfection.” (Which is an odd thing to put on a piece of clothing.)

Coffee mugs. “I eat goals for breakfast.” (Which can’t taste good.)

Texts. “Difficult Roads Often Lead to Beautiful Destinations” (Unless you live in Chernobyl.)

Every other social media post. “Everyone Starts Somewhere. Just Begin.” (Terrible advice for skydivers.)

I know that I’ve read these quotes and said to myself, “Hell yes, I’m going to go out and crush it today!”

...but, do I really seize the day after reading motivational quotes? Sometimes? Kinda?

Sort of? Not really?

If I’m focused for the day, I’m probably going to get all of the things accomplished that I set out to do anyway.

But I’m not always that planned. And if there’s a lack of planning, that quote may or may not push me into action, it could even have the opposite effect.

Motivation plays a pivotal role in the beginning stages of an exercise program when we’re setting goals and getting to work at achieving them. The first few weeks of a new program can feel amazing and the energy shift you feel keeps you motivated to keep coming back.

But then...time goes by.

Ostensibly, we as humans can easily fall prey to temptations.

Maybe winter hits and the dark and cold causes you to sleep in and miss your yoga class.

Maybe you miss a few workouts while on vacation and your brain tells you it’s going to be soooooo hard to get back on track with your training, so you just stop going.

You eat a donut (let’s be honest, three donuts), decide that you’ve already “killed the day”, and just throw in the damn towel.

What keeps me reaching and working on my goals isn’t quite as simple as those super cute quotes make it out to be.

What keeps me going is…


When I’m incredibly clear on my intentions for the day, week, or year and I establish a clear goal - I work hard to accomplish it.

Plans are created and re-evaluated to keep me on track to meet (and hopefully exceed) those goals.

But dedication is not to be confused with perfection. When you’re committed; a goal is established, a plan is developed, and the work is put in to achieve that goal.

Part of the process of achieving that goal, setbacks. Those times where you just isn’t sure if you have it in you to push any harder.

Those who are dedicated are aware of their progress or lack thereof;

They reassess.

They refocus.

And they remain dedicated to their goal.

"You need to hear this loud and clear: No one is coming for you; It's up to you." ~Mel Robbins


When 2018 began, I thought I didn’t have anything to train for. In the past, I factored in the half-marathons and 5Ks that I planned to tackle during the year. But, seeing as I can’t train for races anymore (see here and here for that story), instead of just throwing in the towel (I seem to like this phrase) and hanging out on the couch, I decided that I wanted to increase my strength for one reason and one reason only. I have never, in my life, been able to do a pull-up.

And in December, I’m turning 40, so it seemed like an appropriate goal to conquer the pull-up by my 40th birthday.

I have always been successful at dangling awkwardly from the bar, but have always lacked the strength to pull myself up. I mean, it’s not like our elementary PE teachers trained us for the Presidential Fitness Challenge. We just had to jump up there and hope for the best.

I set a goal to be able to do 4 pull-ups by my 40th birthday.

Look -

From your perspective, I don’t know if that seems too easy or too difficult, but 40 pull-ups seems unreasonable and 4 looks cute with turning 40. So, 4 it is.

But, what do you do when you don’t even know where to start?

I already strength train regularly, so that’s a check in the right column - but - am I doing the right kind of training to actually pull myself up that bar?

That’s where asking for help came in.

Two of my trainer friends volunteered (maybe they were convinced or forced, whatever) into helping me.

We discussed form and lifting strategies that will support #4by40, and have even willingly held my feet to help me with various parts of the pull-up.

Right now, I’m teetering between the phases of motivation and dedication.

I’m still highly motivated to meet this goal, but it is really hard work.

That’s where my dedication comes in.

I’m committed to becoming strong enough to meet this goal. I know I have to put in the work to be strong enough to pull my body up without anyone supporting me.

Are there days that I don’t feel like lifting weights? Absolutely!

Are there moments when I want to call it at 8 reps instead of 10? Or 3 reps instead of 5? You bet your ass there are.

Are there workouts when I don’t feel like asking someone to help hoist my body up? Of course.

But if I don’t put in the work, no one else is going to do it for me. Should I repeat that for the people in the back?

I have to put myself outside of my comfort zone and do the damn work.

In the meantime, if you have any cute pull-up quotes, please send them my way.

While I’m committed to this goal, everyone could use a quote now and again to remind them why we put ourselves through these challenges.

That being said, I’ve run out of words, so let’s meet back here next Thursday to get into our inner critics.

Take a listen to yours this week, what’s it saying to you and holding you back from doing?

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