What's Your Motivation? What Are You Chasing?

What's Your Motivation? What Are You Chasing?
What is it that you're chasing: A idealized look? A first place? A pro card? I believe a focused  competitor, no matter what level, needs to know what their goal is. Let's examine what some good goals are and goals that I believe are dangerous if not kept in check.
It's Your First Show: 
This is the first time in your life you have made an ultimate commitment to exercising everyday, eating clean every meal, and lifting weights consistently. The challenge is to step on stage in front of a crowd of strangers. The reward is having a bo198699 508159605878553 2006291731 ndy that not even you imagined was possible. The day of the show will be like none other; win or lose you are happy, you have arrived and overcome. Friends and family are there, they are proud, and you are proud of yourself. The first show is about memories and will forever harbor feelings of accomplishment. The motivation for your first show is probably to prove something to yourself. When everything is finished there is humble pride and gratefulness lodged in your memory bank forever. 
Improving, Growing, Changing:
Bodybuilding is just what it sounds like; building one's body. The goal each show should be to make improvements. I think this is a healthy goal because it is focused on what YOU can do. All that you have control over is your body and the work you put in. Self improvement is an intrinsic goal that protects you from disappointment and judgment. Competing is a harsh sport, getting on stage to be told what we should or shouldn’t look like. Keep a realistic mindset, clear vision of what your body is capable of and you will be protected from unrealistic expectations. Make sure expectations come from your goals and capabilities, not someone else. Wishing, hoping, and wanting a body like someone else will not benefit your prep or placing in a contest. It is helpful to have role models and people who you look up to, but be sure to not idolize them. You know yourself better than anyone else so set your own standards and you will not be let down. Even if your body does not grow and change how you expected, what did you learn about yourself? There is no failure but only pride in self improvement; whether physically or emotionally. 
The Personal Challenge:
Many competitors, like myself, love the structured lifestyle foodprepof contest prep and the many things that go along with a prep. I think it is a type A personality thing... The extreme control and calculations all leading up to one day. It is a battle of mind, body, and spirit. How much can one endure? All for just, one day, a simple first place, or not even?! The uncertainty that all of it may not be enough. It is up to the judges, politics of the sport, or even just someone shows up who is just hands down better looking. People won't understand; it isn't about the placing sometimes but the struggle to prevail, to show up, giving it 110%. In the end, all the perceived control and calculations of contest prep do not really matter because its up to chance. Contest prep is like life... we think we are in control of our own life. But in the end the only thing we can control is how we deal with the things that happen to us. How we choose to interpret and emotionally react to what curve balls life throw at us. 
The Placing/Pro Card Chaser:
We are all competitors for a reason, we want to win. There is no doubt about that. I'm not saying I don't want to win or even earn my pro card someday but I think this is a slippery goal. If the goal is solely to get a pro card, my next question to you is then what? Or what if you keep going and a pro card just will never be within your reach? Then what, are you a failure? I see so many competitors beat themselves into the ground chasing for that pro card. Some do have a chance, others probably not so much... Yet they all put their bodies, mind, and soul through so much distress, just for a title, a recognition of approval trophiesthat one is good enough? Really, is a title worth it?
The pro card  is an extrinsic goal. I am not saying it isn't a good bench mark or important step in one's journey but it should be accompanied by an intrinsic drive as well. The intrinsic goal provides a safety net and purpose for it all. If a competitor's goal is ALSO to improve their physique; year after year they try for that pro card, with no success, that person can still look back with pride for what they have achieved rather than what they haven’t. Everything into consideration, it seems the human nature desires at least some extrinsic recognition. Arguably, even the most humble person enjoys to be honored or recognized for their hard work. 
There are many other intrinsic and extrinsic reasons that drive us to compete. Otherwise, why on earth would anyone choose to follow a bland diet for weeks, spend hours doing cardio, skipping on the socializing to be in the gym or get to bed early. Competitors are a different breed. We are all very similar and also different in our reasons that led us to compete. These are just a few of my observations and thoughts to why we compete. 
Above all we do it for ourselves. Which is my final observation and caution for this article. Competition is an individual sport, “me against myself, and the world”. Extreme focus and competition can make for some pretty ugly and selfish people. Let the competition and focus be on stage, and stay on stage. There is no need to hate and tear down others outside of that arena. The world is tough enough as it is. Full of hatred, judgment, and discrimination. Yes, we all have similar goals to win but in my opinion it is not worth hating and disrespecting another human being; brother, sister, mother, father, daughter, son over it. Everybody is somebody. Remember that the person next to you worked hard, suffered, and sacrificed too. They are also a human being not just a body. Be a good sport, enjoy the ride, and do not trade your morals and integrity for a placing. 
Don't live to compete, let competing be a part of life; a privilege and something fun. 

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