How to Persist when Motivation Deserts You: Psyche Management Techniques from Victory-driven Athletes


Do you ever find yourself lacking the motivation to continue towards your goals? It's a common predicament that many of us face. But fear not, because there are techniques you can learn from victory-driven athletes to help you overcome this hurdle. In this article, we will explore these mindset management techniques that can help you persist, even when motivation deserts you. So, let's dive in and discover the secret to staying focused and determined, no matter what challenges come your way.

Understanding Motivation Desertion

Motivation is a fickle thing. One moment, you're fired up and ready to take on the world. The next moment, you find yourself struggling to muster any ounce of enthusiasm. It's a common experience, and one that many of us can relate to. But why does motivation desert us when we need it the most?

Understanding the reasons behind motivation desertion can help us navigate through these tough times. One possible explanation is that our goals may no longer align with our values and aspirations. As author Simon Sinek once said1 , "Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion." When our goals lose their meaning and purpose, it becomes difficult to stay motivated.

Another reason for lost motivation is burnout. We live in a society that glorifies hustle and constant productivity. As a result, we push ourselves to the limit, often neglecting self-care and rest. Eventually, our bodies and minds become exhausted, leading to a depletion in motivation. As Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of The Huffington Post, wisely said2 , "We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in."

External factors can also contribute to motivation desertion. Life's challenges, setbacks, and disappointments can take a toll on our drive and enthusiasm. As motivational speaker Les Brown once said3 , "When life knocks you down, try to land on your back. Because if you can look up, you can get up."

Understanding these underlying reasons for lost motivation is the first step in regaining our drive and enthusiasm. By acknowledging and addressing these factors, we can begin to develop strategies to persist despite the desertion of motivation.

white sand
Photo by ameenfahmy on Unsplash

Identifying Reasons for Lost Motivation

When motivation deserts us, it's important to take a step back and identify the reasons behind this loss. Understanding what causes our motivation to wane can help us address the underlying issues and find ways to reignite our drive. Here are some common reasons why motivation can fade away:

1. Lack of Clarity and Goal Fatigue

One possible reason for lost motivation is a lack of clarity about our goals and what we hope to achieve. When we're not clear about where we're headed, our motivation can dwindle. It's essential to have a clear vision of what we want to accomplish and break it down into smaller, manageable goals.

As the famous basketball coach John Wooden once said:

"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."

Additionally, constantly pursuing the same goals without any breaks can lead to goal fatigue. It can be mentally and physically exhausting to be relentlessly focused on a single objective. It's important to take breaks, reassess our goals, and modify our approach when necessary.

2. Overwhelming Challenges and Burnout

Another reason for lost motivation is facing overwhelming challenges or experiencing burnout. When the tasks ahead seem insurmountable or we feel emotionally and physically drained, our motivation can falter. It's crucial to recognize when we're pushing ourselves too hard and give ourselves permission to rest and recharge.

As the renowned marathon runner Kathrine Switzer once said:

"Winning isn't about finishing in first place. It's about making an effort to be the best you can be."

3. Lack of Support and Encouragement

A lack of support and encouragement can also demotivate us. When we don't have a strong support system or people who believe in our abilities, it can be challenging to stay motivated. Surrounding ourselves with positive and supportive individuals can make a significant difference in our motivation levels.

As the tennis legend Serena Williams once said:

"I think in life you should work on yourself until the day you die."

4. Fear of Failure

Fear of failure is a common reason for lost motivation. The fear of not meeting expectations or falling short can paralyze us and prevent us from taking action. It's essential to reframe failure as an opportunity for growth and learning rather than a negative outcome. Embracing a growth mindset can help us overcome the fear of failure and maintain our motivation.

As the American football coach Vince Lombardi once said:

"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."

5. Lack of Progress and Recognition

When we don't see the progress we expect or receive recognition for our efforts, our motivation can suffer. It's crucial to set realistic expectations and celebrate small victories along the way. Taking time to acknowledge and reward ourselves for our achievements can help us stay motivated in the long run.

As the Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps once said:

"I think goals should never be easy. They should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time."

By identifying these reasons for lost motivation, we can begin to address the underlying issues and find ways to regain our drive.

Techniques From Athletes: First Approach

Motivation can be a fickle thing. It comes and goes, leaving us feeling lost and uninspired. We all experience moments when we lack the drive to continue pursuing our goals. But what separates the victorious from the defeated is their ability to persist, even when motivation deserts them.

One approach that many victory-driven athletes use to overcome the loss of motivation is to focus on their why. Understanding the deeper meaning behind their pursuits helps them find the strength to push through the toughest times.

In his book "Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable," Tim S. Grover, the renowned trainer of world-class athletes, emphasizes the importance of figuring out your why. He says, "You have to know in your gut that this is what you are destined to do and you don’t care what anyone else thinks about it. This is your why; it doesn’t matter if it’s accepted, because it’s real, and it’s yours. When you find it, nurture it, guard it, and hold on to it with every ounce of strength you have.”

Knowing your why provides you with a strong sense of purpose and helps you stay committed to your goals, even when motivation is lacking. It becomes your guiding force, pushing you forward and reminding you of what truly matters. As Grover notes, "Your why is your rock. It is the drive, the passion that pushes you to keep working, to keep striving, to become better."

To incorporate this technique into your own life, take some time to reflect on why you started your journey in the first place. What are the values and aspirations that drive you? What impact do you hope to make? By identifying your why, you can remind yourself of your deeper purpose and use it as fuel to persist.

In addition to focusing on your why, another technique used by victory-driven athletes is the power of positive self-talk. The way we talk to ourselves greatly influences our mindset and motivation. By adopting a positive inner dialogue, athletes are able to overcome self-doubt and push past obstacles.

Renowned athlete Michael Jordan once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." This quote encapsulates the importance of believing in oneself and taking risks, even when motivation is low. Positive self-talk involves shifting your internal narrative to one that is encouraging and empowering. Instead of dwelling on your shortcomings or failures, remind yourself of your strengths and past successes.

According to sports psychologist Melissa Thompson, positive self-talk helps athletes "build their confidence, enhance their motivation, and reduce anxiety." By incorporating this technique into your own life, you can reframe negative thoughts into positive ones and maintain a resilient mindset, even during times of low motivation.

To summarize, victory-driven athletes have developed techniques to persevere when motivation wanes. The first approach involves understanding your why and using it as your guiding force. By identifying your deeper purpose and focusing on your values, you can find the strength to persist. Additionally, adopting positive self-talk helps cultivate a resilient mindset and push past self-doubt. Remember, as Grover advises, "Find your why, nurture it, guard it, and hold on to it with every ounce of strength you have".

athletic's on starting line during daytime
Photo by Nicolas Hoizey on Unsplash

Techniques From Athletes: Second Way

While the first approach we discussed involved using visualization techniques, the second way that victory-driven athletes manage to persist even when their motivation deserts them is through setting small, achievable goals.

In his book "The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive," sports psychologist Jim Afremow emphasizes the importance of breaking down larger goals into smaller, manageable milestones. This allows athletes to maintain their focus and motivation as they work towards these smaller victories.

According to Afremow, "Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out." This quote by renowned basketball player Robert Collier reflects the power of setting small, achievable goals. It's easier to stay motivated when you have a clear target in mind and a sense of progress with each milestone you achieve.

One effective technique used by athletes is the use of SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By using this framework, athletes are able to set goals that are clear, realistic, and time-based, making them more likely to succeed.

For example, a marathon runner who is struggling with motivation may set a SMART goal of running a certain distance every week and gradually increasing it over time. Each time they reach their weekly target, they experience a sense of accomplishment and are motivated to keep going.

Another technique often employed by athletes is the use of positive self-talk. Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps once said, "I think goals should never be easy. They should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time." Phelps understood the power of positive self-talk in pushing through challenging moments and keeping motivation alive.

By adopting a similar mindset, when faced with a lack of motivation, athletes remind themselves of their past successes and use positive affirmations to maintain their belief in their ability to overcome obstacles. This self-encouragement helps reinforce their motivation and resilience.

To summarize, setting small, achievable goals and practicing positive self-talk are two valuable techniques used by victory-driven athletes to persist despite a lack of motivation. These strategies can be applied in various areas of life, whether it's pursuing personal goals, excelling in academics, or advancing in one's career. By breaking larger goals into smaller milestones and maintaining a positive mindset, anyone can harness the power of persistence and continue moving forward, even when motivation deserts them.

Techniques From Athletes: Third Strategy

When it comes to finding motivation and staying persistent, athletes have a wealth of wisdom to offer. One powerful strategy they employ is visualizing success and setting clear goals. Visualizing success involves creating a mental image of achieving your desired outcome. This technique has been used by athletes to enhance their performance and overcome challenges.

Visualizing success can have a significant impact on your motivation because it taps into the power of your imagination. When you can imagine yourself succeeding, you start to believe that it is indeed possible. This belief fuels your motivation to persist, even when faced with obstacles along the way.

To incorporate this strategy into your life, follow these simple steps:

  1. Identify your goals: Start by setting clear and specific goals. Knowing what you want to achieve is essential for effective visualization.

  2. Create a mental picture: Close your eyes and imagine yourself successfully accomplishing your goals. Visualize every detail, including how you feel, what you see, and what others are saying. Make the picture as vivid and realistic as possible.

  3. Engage your senses: Along with the visual aspect, engage your other senses. Imagine how success would sound, feel, and even taste. This multisensory experience makes the visualization more powerful and persuasive.

  4. Repeat regularly: Set aside specific times each day to practice your visualization. Make it a habit just like brushing your teeth or exercising. The more you practice, the more familiar and attainable success will feel.

One example of an athlete who has successfully used visualization to achieve greatness is Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time. He said, "I visualized winning every night of my life before an Olympic race". Phelps attributes his success to the power of visualizing himself achieving his goals. By adopting this strategy, he was able to persist through countless hours of training and overcome setbacks on his path to victory.

By incorporating visualization techniques into your daily routine, you can harness the power of your mind to stay motivated and persist. Remember, success begins in the mind, and by visualizing your success, you are setting yourself up for victory.

football player playing on green grass field
Photo by Geoff Scott on Unsplash

Techniques From Athletes: Fourth Method

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, motivation still eludes us. In these moments, it can be helpful to turn to the techniques employed by victory-driven athletes. One such technique is the use of visualization.

Visualization is a powerful tool that has been embraced by many successful athletes. It involves mentally rehearsing a desired outcome before it actually happens. It is a way of creating a detailed mental image of ourselves achieving our goals.

Research has shown that visualization can improve performance and enhance motivation. By vividly imagining ourselves succeeding, we can create a sense of belief and motivation that pushes us towards our goals.

One famous athlete who swears by visualization is Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time. He once said, "I visualize myself winning before every race. I see it so clearly in my mind that it becomes a reality."

To incorporate visualization into your daily routine, find a quiet and comfortable space. Close your eyes and imagine yourself achieving your goals. Picture every detail: how it feels, what it looks like, and the emotions associated with it. The more vivid and realistic the visualization, the more powerful it becomes.

While it may seem too good to be true, studies have shown that visualization can have a significant impact on motivation and performance. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, athletes who used visualization techniques had improved confidence and motivation compared to those who did not.

So, give visualization a try. Take a few moments each day to visualize yourself overcoming obstacles and achieving your goals. As Olympic champion Usain Bolt once said, "There are better starters than me, but I'm a strong finisher because I visualize myself finishing first."

Incorporating Athletes' Techniques into Daily Routine

When it comes to finding motivation and pushing through challenging times, athletes are the epitome of perseverance and dedication. They have honed their skills and developed techniques that can be applied not only in sports but also in our daily lives. By incorporating these techniques into our routines, we can tap into the same resilience and determination that drives athletes to success.

Setting Clear Goals

One key technique used by athletes is setting clear and specific goals. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps once said, "If you want to be successful, you have to set goals that are achievable." When we set clear goals for ourselves, we give ourselves something concrete to work towards. It provides us with a sense of direction and purpose, and helps us stay motivated even when faced with obstacles.

When incorporating athletes' techniques into our daily routine, it's important to set specific and achievable goals for ourselves. Whether it's learning a new skill, reaching a fitness milestone, or completing a project, clearly defining what we want to achieve will help keep us motivated and focused.

Developing a Routine

Another technique athletes excel at is developing a consistent routine. They understand that consistency is key to success. As former professional baseball player Derek Jeter once said, "There may be people who have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you." By establishing a routine that includes structured practice or training sessions, we can build momentum and maintain motivation.

In order to incorporate this technique into our daily routine, we can start by designating specific times for activities that align with our goals. This could be scheduling regular workout sessions, dedicated time for practicing a skill, or setting aside time for reflection and self-improvement. By making these activities a consistent part of our routine, we create a foundation for success.

Visualizing Success

Visualization is another powerful technique used by athletes to enhance their performance. Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, once said, "I visualize clearly what I want to happen... Then I do my best to make it happen." By visualizing ourselves achieving our goals and experiencing success, we can increase our motivation and belief in our abilities.

To incorporate visualization into our daily routine, we can take a few minutes each day to close our eyes and imagine ourselves accomplishing our goals. It helps to vividly imagine the sights, sounds, and feelings associated with success. By doing this regularly, we create a positive mindset and generate the motivation needed to persist when the going gets tough.

Seeking Support

Athletes know that having a support system is crucial to their success. They surround themselves with coaches, trainers, and teammates who motivate and inspire them to keep going. As track and field sprinter Usain Bolt once said, "Win from within."

In our daily routine, it's important to seek support from those around us. This could be friends, family members, mentors, or even online communities with similar goals. Sharing our progress, challenges, and successes with others not only holds us accountable but also provides encouragement and motivation during difficult times.

Incorporating athletes' techniques into our daily routine can greatly enhance our ability to persist and stay motivated. By setting clear goals, developing a consistent routine, visualizing success, and seeking support, we can tap into the same determination that drives athletes to achieve their victories. Remember, as gymnast Simone Biles once said, "If you believe in yourself, anything is possible." So let us embrace these techniques and unleash our inner athlete to conquer any obstacles that come our way.

Real Life Examples of Victory-driven Athletes

When it comes to finding inspiration in the face of lost motivation, there is no shortage of real-life examples to turn to. Some of the most successful and determined athletes in history have faced their fair share of motivational challenges and have come out on top. Let's take a look at a few of their stories and the techniques they employed to overcome their obstacles.

Serena Williams: Embracing Hard Work and Determination

Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, is known for her unwavering determination and work ethic. Despite facing numerous setbacks and injuries throughout her career, Serena has managed to achieve unparalleled success. She once said, "I love the challenge of trying to be the best I can be, and I think that's something that's so incredible about sports. You always have to keep pushing yourself."

Williams' relentless pursuit of perfection and her willingness to put in the hard work even when motivation wanes have been key to her success. She has learned to embrace the grind and find joy in the process, rather than solely focusing on the end result.

Michael Jordan: Harnessing Failure as Motivation

Michael Jordan, widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time, is no stranger to setbacks and failures. After being cut from his high school basketball team, Jordan could have easily given up on his dreams. Instead, he used the experience as fuel to work even harder. He once famously said, "I have failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed."

Jordan's ability to view failure as an opportunity for growth and motivation allowed him to achieve unprecedented success in his career. He did not let setbacks define him but instead used them to propel himself forward. His resilience and determination serve as an inspiration to athletes and non-athletes alike.

Simone Biles: Embracing Fear and Pushing Boundaries

Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in history, has faced numerous challenges in her journey to greatness. As a gymnast, fear and self-doubt can be constant companions. However, Biles has learned to embrace these emotions and turn them into sources of motivation.

She once said, "I'd rather regret the risks that didn't work out than the chances I didn't take at all." Biles constantly pushes herself to new heights, taking on increasingly difficult moves and routines. By embracing fear and pushing past her comfort zone, she continues to achieve remarkable success in her sport.

These real-life examples of victory-driven athletes demonstrate that motivation is not a constant state to be relied upon. Instead, it is a skill that can be developed and nurtured. By embracing hard work, harnessing failure as motivation, and pushing past fear and self-doubt, these athletes have achieved incredible success.

Incorporating their techniques into our daily routine can help us persist despite the lack of motivation. Whether we are athletes or not, we can all learn from their determination and apply it to our own lives. As Serena Williams once said, "You have to believe in yourself when no one else does – that makes you a winner right there." So let us believe in ourselves, find inspiration in these athletes' stories, and keep pushing forward, even when motivation deserts us.

Tips on How to Persist Despite Lack of Motivation

We have all been there. Waking up one day and feeling utterly devoid of motivation. It can be frustrating, demoralizing, and make you want to throw in the towel. But don't lose hope just yet! There are ways to persist even when motivation seems to have deserted you. Here are some tips to help you stay on track when the going gets tough.

1. Break It Down

When faced with a lack of motivation, the thought of tackling a big project or goal can be overwhelming. Instead, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. As the Chinese proverb goes, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Take that first step, no matter how small, and celebrate each milestone along the way.

2. Find Your Why

When motivation wanes, it's important to reconnect with your why. What is it that drives you? What is your ultimate goal? Understanding the purpose behind your actions will reignite your passion and remind you why you started in the first place. As Oprah Winfrey once said, "The big secret in life is that there is no secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you're willing to work."

3. Create a Routine

Establishing a routine can provide structure and discipline when motivation is lacking. As legendary basketball coach John Wooden once said, "Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming." By incorporating daily habits and rituals into your routine, you cultivate a sense of commitment and dedication to your goals.

Example Routine:

  • Wake up early and begin the day with a positive affirmation or mantra.

  • Engage in physical activity to boost endorphins and energy levels.

  • Break tasks into manageable chunks and allocate specific times for each.

  • Take short breaks to recharge and avoid burnout.

  • Reflect on accomplishments at the end of the day and express gratitude.

4. Seek Support

Don't go it alone. Reach out to friends, family, or a mentor who can offer guidance and support during times of low motivation. Surrounding yourself with positive and like-minded individuals can provide encouragement, accountability, and inspiration. As Helen Keller once said, "Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much."

5. Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity

When motivation is lacking, setbacks and failures can feel particularly discouraging. However, it is crucial to view these moments as opportunities for growth and learning. Remember that achieving success is rarely a linear path, and setbacks are an inherent part of the journey. As Michael Jordan once famously remarked, "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

6. Focus on Progress, Not Perfection

Perfectionism can be a motivation killer. Instead of fixating on achieving flawless results, shift your mindset to focus on progress. Celebrate small wins along the way and acknowledge that every step forward is a step closer to your goals. As Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach, once said, "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

Remember, persistence is key. Motivation may come and go, but it is your determination and resilience that will carry you through the tough times. Stay focused on your goals, believe in yourself, and push forward even when the road seems tough. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wisely said, "The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be."


The first approach taught by athletes is to create a clear and compelling vision of our desired outcome. As Mark Spitz, an Olympic swimmer, once said, "If you fail to prepare, you're prepared to fail." By visualizing our goals and reminding ourselves of the rewards that await us, we can reignite our passion and regain the motivation to push forward.

The second way athletes tackle motivation desertion is by breaking down their goals into smaller, manageable tasks. As Swami Sivananda, a renowned yoga master, once said, "Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can." By taking small steps towards our goals, we can build momentum and create a sense of accomplishment, which in turn fuels our motivation to keep going.

The third strategy employed by athletes is to cultivate a positive mindset and surround themselves with supportive and like-minded individuals. As Michael Jordan, a basketball legend, once stated, "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships." By surrounding ourselves with positive influences and a supportive network, we can draw upon their energy and inspiration to overcome our own motivational hurdles.

Lastly, athletes teach us the importance of perseverance and resilience. As Serena Williams, a tennis champion, once mentioned, "Winning is great, but it's not the point. Wanting to win is the point." By recognizing that setbacks and challenges are part of the journey, we can cultivate the determination and grit necessary to persist despite the lack of motivation.

Incorporating these psyche management techniques into our daily routine allows us to adapt the mindset of victory-driven athletes and rediscover our motivation even when it deserts us. As Wayne Gretzky, a hockey legend, once said, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." So, let us continue to take our shots, learn from athletes who have overcome motivational obstacles, and persist in the pursuit of our goals, for it is in our persistence that our true success lies.

1Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009)
2Arianna Huffington, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder (2014)
3Les Brown, Live Your Dreams (1992)
4Tim S. Grover, Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable (2013)
5Melissa Thompson, The Psychology of Sport for Performance Enhancement (2018)
7Jim Afremow, The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive (2014)
8Jim Afremow, The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train, and Thrive (2014)
9Gary Ryan Blair, Everything Counts: 52 Remarkable Ways to Inspire Excellence and Drive Results (2011)
10Michael Phelps with Alan Abrahamson, No Limits: The Will to Succeed (2009)
10Sports Psychology: Techniques and Strategies for Successful Performance - David Yukelson (2009)
11The Power of Visualization: 8 Tips to Manifest Your Dreams into Reality - Peace Quarters
12No Limits: The Will to Succeed - Michael Phelps (2009)
13Daniel Guillotin, Visualize: The Power of Mental Imagery in Sport (2010)
14Michael Phelps, No Limits: The Will to Succeed (2009)
15Derek Jeter, The Life You Imagine: Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams (2000)
16Serena Williams, On the Line (2009)
17Usain Bolt, Faster than Lightning: My Autobiography (2013)
18Simone Biles, Courage to Soar (2016)
19"Serena Williams: Tennis Superstar" by John Albert Torres (2018)
20"Driven from Within" by Michael Jordan (2005)
21Oprah Winfrey, "What I Know for Sure" (2014).
22John Wooden, "Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court" (1997).
23Helen Keller, "We Bereaved" (1929).
24Michael Jordan, "I Can't Accept Not Trying: Michael Jordan on the Pursuit of Excellence" (1994).
25Vince Lombardi, "What It Takes to Be #1: Vince Lombardi on Leadership" (2001).
26Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance" (1841).