I just finished my 12th season in the NFL, but my goals never stop. Keeping momentum in life is an essential part of progress. I have never missed a regular season game from injury or illness – that doesn’t mean I have discovered all of life’s secrets. But throughout failures and successes, there are five things that help me stay motivated to reach my goals.
Keep Things Dynamic: Doing the same thing everyday is draining because it's unnatural. The world around you is constantly changing, and you can use that to refine your skills whether they are mental, physical, or emotional. It’s about looking at things in a new light and finding what works for you, no matter what. Plateaus occur when we aren’t testing ourselves in pursuit of our goals.
The birth of my boys changed a lot of aspects of my daily life. Life changes mean that I change too, but my long-term goals can remain focused. New dynamics force me to adapt my approach and see things in a new light. When things change, we test ourselves and break a grind.
Take Time to Understand Your Body: Burnout can come from forcing your body to do things that just don’t work for it. In other words, you’re assuming unnecessary stress without realizing you’re missing recovery. As a professional athlete, I work with my performance director to monitor my nutrients, and see how my inputs impact my energy, recovery, and strength.
You don’t need these in-depth tests to understand what works for your body. You just need to take time for consistency - these are your own tests. At the University of Nebraska, I took time to learn from a nutritionist who taught me some foundations. Now, these help me understand what adjustments I should make depending on my stress and activity levels. Taking time is key to preventing burnout and maintaining motivation.
Make Work Feel Like Leisure: Work produces something of consequence, helping you grow in the process. Don’t associate it negatively. If it drains you, understand why and refocus. I built my life around my passions including football, family, investing, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy. Each of these helped me determine a specific goal worth pursuing, and my habitual curiosity helps give meaning.
Work doesn’t just mean your career. You are the product of your inputs. Find things that interest you daily. This could be spending time in nature, starting a community sport, trying something meditative, or finding a new recipe. If it takes everything in you to want to do something, you’re building a blueprint for mental and physical failure. Spend time laying the foundation for something you will enjoy building.
Take Time for Intentions: The world is a big place with a lot of options. Setting goals can feel overwhelming and distant. But no matter how big or small, they are important to maintaining motivation. Setting goals allows me to understand where I want to be, and where I am now. It forces intentionality, and helps me tailor how I approach things.
Find time to start each day with setting your intentions. It will help you understand and structure what you want to achieve.
Be Patient: The greatest lesson Mr. Buffett ever taught me was to be patient in all aspects of life. There are a lot of things we don’t always understand. Learning is a process that requires patience, but it’s an essential component to maintain motivation. Patience is a forward-thinking skill that helps you plan your goals and achieve them.
There’s always more going on than meets the eye, and you make more progress than you often realize if you stay diligent. But always be wary of becoming impatient as it’ll negatively impact your mind and your body, ultimately interrupting the pursuit of your goals. Make sure your thoughts are as productive as you want to be.