Today I finally returned to BJJ. Between October and November, I’ve gone a total of 4 times, including today. Maybe 5 times. There were a few reasons: My friend was moving away and I wanted to spend more time with him, and I got sick–I’ve been burning through Kleenex like a sick person with a box of matches.

But really, it was more about motivation, and more specifically, my lack of motivation.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth

When I switched schools, it ended poorly. It felt a little bit like the end of a relationship–you don’t want to cause extra drama by talking about it, but you are hurting a bit and you withdraw. I walked away from my gym feeling extremely butthurt and frustrated and depressed.

My new gym is great, but it’s been really hard picking up the pieces and starting at a new school. You have to get to know everyone, you start from scratch, you don’t know how things will be. What I loved so much about my old school were my partners, and now I had to get to know a whole slew of new partners, and I was having problems getting excited about that.

Then I got into a habit of not going, and I’d look at my watch and think: If I go to bjj I will only have 3 hours to sit and relax, but if I skip it, I’ll have a wonderful 6 hours of NOTHING. This became more appealing, I’m sorry to say. I tend to be a creature of habit and routine, and in the last two months, NOT doing BJJ became my routine. Then I got sick and it reinforced that.

But, I’m happy to say that I’m back. My sniffly nose finally stopped running and sneezing, so I skipped hanging out with the graduating class in order to go to jiu jitsu.

And boy was it worth it. First, the instructor said to me: “Hey, we haven’t seen you in a long time!” I like when my partners or instructors help keep me accountable, so this was a very good sign to me. Second, the class was small–only 5 of us plus the instructor. During drilling the instructor partnered with me. This was something incredible to me. At my last school the instructor was VERY hands off. Having a hands-on instructor is really important to me, and it was really nice to hear him say “Nice job!” It was more feedback than I’d gotten in a long time.

So I’m very happy to say that the instructor at my gym is everything I’d hoped for. I’m very excited to go back tomorrow, and boy do I need it. I was huffing and puffing and so tired! Only an hour and I was pretty tapped. 🙂

What this really illustrated to me was the importance of good habits and motivation. It’s easy to keep doing something when you’re excited about it, but what happens if, for some reason, you find yourself not so excited about going to classes? What happens if you’d rather stay home and work on your projects or read a book? How do you self motivate?

Three months ago I would have said that my motivation was to be better in BJJ. And I suppose that is a worthwhile motivation–it was then. Now it’s back to my roots with: I want to be more physically fit. I know I’ll recapture my excitement and joy–it’s still there, but I was really affected when I broke up with my first school, and it muted it a lot for me.

So my question to you: what is your motivation? What keeps you going back when you are having a tough time? What keeps you going back when the excitement and joy and energy aren’t always there? It’s not always rainbows and sunshine and flowers. Sometimes love-of-BJJ is enough, and sometimes it’s not. What do you do when it’s not enough?