Find Your Motivation to Swim

With the sun high in the Spring skies, the pool is the perfect place to unwind, get some exercise, and enjoy the season.

But… your brain starts firing rapid pulses through the hemispheres:

  • I don’t have the time…
  • Who’s gonna look after the kids…
  • I look ugly in my swimsuit…
  • Do I even remember how to swim…

We’ve all got barriers that try to keep us from achieving what we set out to do. And it’s normal to have reservations before starting – or restarting – a routine.

That’s why it is so important to find your motivation. Here’s a great system to put you on the right track.

Dig deep to discover your ‘WHY’

A new project is easier when you have a purpose behind doing it. It gives you a reason to keep pushing forward.

So, if you’ve got an inkling in the back of your mind about getting into swimming, it helps to work out: WHY.

But what is a WHY? According to author Simon Sinek, your WHY is:

“a deep-seated purpose, cause or belief that is the source of our passion and inspiration”.

In the Sinek system, this applies to your whole life. However, you can also apply this to new projects and passions you want to start.

This means, that when it comes to swimming, there’s plenty of great WHYs that you can use to motivate yourself.

  • Do you want to be healthier?
  • Do you want to stress less?
  • Do you want to spend time being active with friends?
  • Do you want to recover from injury?
  • Do you want to do a triathlon?
  • Do you want to lose weight?

We’re willing to bet you’ve already got a hunch of a reason in mind. Draw it out, and define what it is, to help push you in the right direction.

Fight Your Fear

Before starting a new routine, pause, and think for a moment: “what is holding me back”?

It helps to define the things that will become roadblocks to your success:

  • Is it the stories your brain tells your body?
  • Is it the terror of failing?
  • Is it the fear of upheaval and change?
  • Is it the fear of judgement?

These fears and roadblocks are real in our mind, but don’t often point to reality. Often, the roadblock is never as big as we make it out to be in our head.

Take a moment to stop and recognise when you are having these feelings. You can address yourself in the third person, like a friend talking some sense into you:

  • John, you are worried about the fear of judgement. Remember that most people aren’t looking at you, and those that are, don’t care.
  • Sarah, you’re scared of doing something new. Remember, last time you took a brave step forward, you got that new job you love.

It’s easy to think of all the perils and hazards we avoid by not taking risks. But it’s a harder pill to swallow to think of everything we miss out on because of fear.

So when you are facing a roadblock, consider the wonderful things in your life. And how many only happened because you leapt into the unknown.

The pool is one of the first testing grounds: learning the float, learning to swim, meeting other kids. So it makes sense that there may be some reservations that persist.

But you cannot let your fear or insecurity define you. Do not let it get in the way of reaching your goals. 

"Breathe. Focus. And keep pushing."

Set Your Goals

If your WHY is the reason for your new routine, the WHAT is the way to make it happen. i.e. It is the actual work you put in, day in, day out, to achieve your goals.

You define your actions by your goals. And the best way to create these is by using SMART goals. These are goals that are:

  • S – Specific: Includes the nitty-gritty details you need to make the goal happen
  • M – Measurable: Have data values that you can track that are pertinent to your goal
  • A – Achievable: Realistic to the actions that you can take
  • R – Relevant: Aligns with your motivation
  • T – Time-Bound: Are bound by a specific achievable timeframe to make the goal happen

The important fact in all this, is that goals should be actionable, rather than focused on results.

Consider these two goals:

  • Bad Goal: Lose weight
  • Good Goal: Swim 3x/week for 60 minutes to lose 5kgs by 31 December

In the bad goal, ‘lose weight’ is not a specific action that you can take. In the good goal ‘swim 3x/week’ is something you can go out and do. Likewise, doing ‘12,000 steps a day’ is a much better goal than ‘walk more’.

This idea of taking small actions every day has been popularised in a story told about Jerry Seinfeld.

A young, then-aspiring, Seinfeld needed to come up with new stand-up material. His solution was to write one joke, every day.

Not a whole bit. Not a whole monologue.

Just one funny line.

And when he did, he crossed off a wall calendar with a big red X. And as the days went by, the chain of X’s grew longer and longer – giving him the motivation to not ‘Break the Chain’.

And as you would expect, his list of jokes got bigger and bigger. Jerry emerged as one of the greatest comedians of all time.

This was only possible because the daily goal was achievable, and actionable. This is the same technique used by apps like My Fitness Pal and Duolingo (heaven forbid you forget your French for a day and make the green owl angry!).

By setting actionable goals, you skyrocket your chance of getting them done.

"Don't break the chain"

Measure Your Success

By setting SMART goals, you can measure your success. That’s the real benefit of the system.

As a kid, we had systems to track progress all the time. Think of all the measurements:

  • Report cards
  • Exam marks
  • Ranking lists
  • Teacher feedback
  • Weekly test results

Unless you work for a company that does employee evaluations well, you get none of this. And that doesn’t help you in your personal life. When was the last time you asked your husband or wife for a mark out of 10?

Swimming is a great sport because there’s lots you can track: strokes, distance, clock times. With actionable goals, you can measure success each day.

There are a few different ways to track and log your progress.

  • If you’re swimming by yourself, a great start is to download the MySwimPro app. In this app, you can track each of your swims, and keep a log of how you are doing.
  • If you’re after something with more control, you can set up a personal diary or excel spreadsheet to do the same job.
  • If you’re swimming with a partner, keep each other accountable, and track progress together. This is one of the reasons swim groups have stayed popular, even for adults.

Once you’ve logged your data, you can compare the results. Look for trends and lines of progress to see yourself improve. No one becomes a perfect swimmer overnight – it’s a journey!

What's Next

You’ve made it to the end. Congratulations on wanting to start a new routine. Swimming is a great way to improve your brain and your body.

And it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Find your reason (your WHY) for swimming, set some actionable goals, and track your success. You’ll be seeing progress in no time.

See you in the pool.