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I'll start with a quick story from my life in martial arts:

When I was 12, I was already a Sr. 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo.  I had been practicing TKD for at least 5 years non-stop.  3 days per week.  I had to wait at my rank for longer than normal due to age requirements.  With no testing in the foreseeable future, I felt bored.  I typically didn't have to try hard to "beat" the other kids in my classes and I didn't get corrected much for anything.  In my forms, I was good enough to not get "fixed".  I constantly got the, "Great! Now sit down so the next kid can give it a try!"  I WAS BORED!

My 12 month membership was just a couple months away.  I knew that as soon as it hit, I was done.  No more TKD.  What was the point, anyway.  I obviously was the best I could be.

Then my instructor noticed the boredom in me from just going through the motions.  He asked me to come to the Teen/Adult class one day.  I did, kind of excited, kind of just wanting to see if I was as good as I thought.

The first person I sparred was a 63 year old man named Rick.  An advanced Red belt with a pot-belly that could knock you over if he turned too fast.  I thought, "Man I'll have to take it easy on this old guy."

No chance!  He smoked me!  Never hit me hard, just so many times.  He was so much faster than I was used to!  I had to crank it up to his speed and IT WAS FUN!

I felt MOTIVATED to spar some more.  Something in me knew that I could get even better than I was!  There was room for improvement.

Now it still wasn't enough to make me want to not quit TKD.  I think my instructor knew it too.  So in the words of another instructor I had, "He was on me like white on rice, on a paper plate, in a snowstorm."  He made me fix EVERYTHING!  And I mean everything. "Fix that retraction hand, tighter, tighter!  More pivot! Higher kick! Faster!"

I am now pretty sure he made up stuff for me to fix too.  Things I was already "perfect" at, he made me fix just to make me work hard.

Then I realized that I had found it.  My motivation for continuing was not my testings for next ranks as they had been in the past.  My motivation was the knowledge that I could improve.  On anything!  I could be faster, stronger, sharper, more focused, etc.

I know all of our motivations are different.  What motivates me doesn't necessarily motivate you.  But finding our own motivations is important!  We don't and won't always have a coach, teacher, or parent to motivate us.  SELF-MOTIVATION is the key.  What drives you to improve, be different, or grow?

As for me, I will continue to try to grow and improve.  That's my motivation.  I don't want to live the same day and same life with no progress or change.  I want to live each day with purpose and motivation.


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