Motivation is one of the most researched topics in the field of sport psychology and also one of the most complex. It's complex because not only do people have various underlying motivations for why they choose to participate in their sport and how driven they are, but it's also complex because your motivation can change over time.
There are so many factors involved in the ebb and flow of an athlete's motivation. Whether you're an age grouper triathlete, a college soccer player, or professional baseball player - at some point in your athletic career - you may lose touch with the joy that your sport once brought you. You may find yourself simply going through the motions or feel like you HAVE to go to practice or HAVE to get your training in versus WANT to. But motivation isn't the only factor that drives you to accomplish a goal. Motivation and commitment leap frog each other throughout the process of working towards a mission or goal.
When I think of motivation I think of words like desire and drive. When I think of commitment I think of words like determination, and dedication. Commitment without motivation means you are determined to take the necessary steps to work towards your goal, but you're doing so without any joy. You'll do it because you feel you have to, because you need to, but not necessarily because you want to. Motivation without commitment means you have the desire and the joy, but do you have what it takes to continue when the road gets long and difficult? Without commitment, the first obstacle you run into might be your last.
Commitment is what will keep you moving when you have a dip in your motivation. Commitment to a goal means that the challenges you face along the way won't cause you to veer off of your path - they are just temporary setbacks you have to deal with. Commitment to your team means that even when your performance is low, you still support your teammates and want to see your team succeed.
Commitment without motivation is a sure path to burnout. If you are committed to the success of your team, but not motivated - you will come to resent your teammates and devalue your role on the team. If you are committed to accomplishing your goal, but not motivated to do so - you may get to the end of the road and feel anger, loss, or even feel nothing instead of being proud of yourself and in awe of the work it took to reach your destination.
Commitment is the decision to act on what motivates you. Motivation is the drive that fuels the commitment. Commitment makes it happen, but motivation can make it a lot more fun!
Are you feeling frustrated or stuck with your sport or level of performance? Do you have some goal that seems to be eluding you? Have you repeated the phrase "I really want to (enter wish here)" countless times, but haven't seen it come to fruition? Accomplishing a goal depends on your actions, not your wishes. If you’re feeling stuck, it's time to ask yourself whether you're suffering from a lack of motivation or lack of commitment. Motivation is what starts you off on your path and commitment is what sees you through to the end.
What do you think is the difference between motivation and commitment? How do you know when you only have one versus the other? Share your comments here!