- How does age effects a person’s energy, determination, and motivation? What advice would you give someone in their 40’s, 50’s, or beyond?
- Why do you do Jiu-Jitsu?
- What do you recommend for a person in a toxic career to stay motivated in today’s environment?
This month I focused on questions about motivation. I’m calling this video motivation and depression because they are kind of opposites. When you lack motivation, depression sets in, and the way to get rid of depression is to get motivated.
(Watch video or read transcript below)
All three of these questions overlap in different ways, so I’ll start with the first one.
How does age affect a person’s energy, determination and motivation? I know you’re into Jiu-Jitsu, surfing, and scuba diving. I recently started motocross. What advice would you give to someone in their 40s, 50s or beyond?
This is a great question because, without a doubt, it’s harder to be motivated as I’ve gotten older. A lot of the activities I used to be excited about, and provided me a lot of passion and purpose, have become harder to do as I’ve gotten older.
Not only are they physically harder on my body, but it’s just harder to have a purpose or reason to get up and do difficult things. With the added challenge of family, kids, work, and all these other things, all these things become harder.
The first thing I suggest for people who are getting older, and they don’t have the drive they used to, is to find a good doctor and get your testosterone checked. If you’re short of testosterone, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) can be a game changer.
Doctors say you lose one percent of your testosterone every year after about age 18. The first thing to do is to legally, and chemically, replace some of what’s missing and see if there’s anything else medically that might be keeping you from having the same drive you did when you were young. That’s a huge step I would suggest for a lot of people who are really struggling with ambition, drive, and energy in they’re in their 40’s and 50s.
The second thing I find helpful when you’re trying to find motivation is to get very clear on why you’re doing the thing you’re doing. When I was young, I was learning Jiu-Jitsu because I wanted to learn how to prevail in a real fight against other men, whether that be in a bar, as a police officer, or whatever.
Learning to fight was kind of a necessity for my job, and also to overcome some insecurities, but now that I’m older, those reasons have gone away. I don’t ever foresee myself getting in a fight in life, but I’m still doing Jiu-Jitsu.
I’ve had to consciously change why I do the different things I do. The reason I do Jiu-Jitsu, scuba diving, surfing, and snowboarding, is to intentionally provide a purpose, to give me a reason to get up and keep moving forward. I don’t really do these things just for enjoyment, I do them more because I’m unhappy if I don’t do them. The enjoyment comes out of forcing myself to have a purpose.
Someone in the comments mentioned that hiking is medicine for them. Going to Jiu-Jitsu, hiking, riding motocross, are all challenging sports that can be hard do if you don’t have a reason for going. I’ve had to change my purpose for being active. When I was younger, my purpose was a little bit clearer because I needed to able to win a fight as a cop, or maybe to attract women, or a variety of reasons. But now my purpose is for my mental wellbeing. Having a very clear purpose of why you do the things you do helps a lot.
Third, I’ve changed who I’m competing with. When I was young, I was competing with my peers to be better than them, but when you start getting older you realize you can no longer compete with peers as effectively as when you were young. I wish it weren’t true, but clearly there 21-year-old fighters that can probably beat my ass, so I have to be realistic.
I have stopped competing with other people. Today, my competition is with myself. I want to get a little better than I was yesterday, and that doesn’t always happen, so a win is often just showing up. Even if I get submitted in Jiu-Jitsu class, or the equivalent on a motocross bike would be losing to another rider, I’ve still won if I’ve shown up. If I really don’t feel like going, but I show up, that’s a win. Sometimes that’s just enough.
I’ve had to become clear on what it means to be successful in my endeavors. The same thing was true with becoming a scuba diving instructor. The reason I got into scuba diving was purposely to give me an outlet and a purpose. The neat thing about scuba diving is that it is kind of like martial arts. It has a ranking system where you can work your way up the ladder. Scuba diving gave me a purpose to pursue something and a reason to get out of the house and do something active and mentally stimulating while working towards a goal. I’m constantly looking for ways to replace that. Right now, I’m working on my doctorate in psychology which provides the same thing for me. It gives me a purpose.
It gives me a reason to get up, exercise my brain, and keep moving. For that reason, it’s very important that as soon as I finish this doctorate, I set a new goal to work towards. I make small goals for myself, because in my forties and fifties I’m not striving to become a world champion. Those kinds of goals have become a little bit less realistic.
Why do I do Jujitsu?
When I first started martial arts, I was about 13 or 14 years old. At that age I was trying to overcome insecurities—a fear of being bullied or not being good enough. In my most recent book, Success: The Path to Personal Fulfillment Through Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Fighters, I explained that in my youth I wanted to become a hero. I wanted to become a bad ass. I wanted to be what I think a lot of young men strive to be in their younger years.
As I’ve gotten older, that goal is no longer enough, so my goal in Jiu-Jitsu today has changed. Today, Jiu-Jitsu gives me a reason to keep going—it gives me a purpose. Now my excitement comes from teaching. I get a lot more satisfaction from teaching other people and seeing their happiness as a result of their success in Jiu-Jitsu. That’s much more enjoyable to me than my own success. I don’t get as excited about submitting someone in Jiu-jitsu today as I get seeing someone else grow, develop self-confidence, and overcome their fears and insecurities. That’s why I do it today.
It’s very difficult for me to do anything athletic today, because it causes me a lot of pain. That said, it’s still worth it because what’s the alternative? The alternative is that I do nothing and die. I recently had a conversation with a friend, Dr Weinstock, who I started Jiu-Jitsu with 20 years ago. He had Jiu-Jitsu mats in the back of his doctor’s office where we used to train together.
He’s a wonderful man and I saw him recently and noticed that he’s much older and in a lot of pain. He struggles to move, so I asked him if it’s worth it. Is it worth being athletic knowing that when you get older, you’re going to be in a lot of pain? He assured me it’s necessary it because if you don’t move, you’re going to be idle and end up in an old folks’ home rotting away. I took his advice to heart. The consequences of being athletic are worth the price because of the positive mental and emotional benefits.
What do you recommend for new law enforcement officers to stay motivated in today’s anti-cop environment brought on by the liberal media and the politicians?
This is an important question that I think applies to more than just police officers. It applies to anyone who feels unappreciated in their life or profession. Another way of asking it is, how do you keep moving forward if what you’re doing no longer provides the same reward it once did.
If you’re in a job where you feel unappreciated, like a teacher for example, I can only imagine how much teachers feel unappreciated in their profession. So how do you wake up each day, stay motivated, stay happy, and stay positive? The first part of my answer I’ll refer to Robert Ringer, an author I admire who talks about the necessity for realistic thinking. You can go to a motivational speaker and get pumped up like a cheerleader, but that temporary motivation of fake fluff doesn’t last very long.
It’s better that you’re not a fake optimist, but instead a realist, even if that’s a bit pessimistic. If we use law enforcement or teachers as examples, you won’t last long going through your day pretending you’re going to save the world. That’s how a lot of young, naive people start their careers, but that’s not realistic. Few of us are not going to change the world in our professions.
If your goal is too ambitious, eventually you’ll end up burned out, disappointed, disenfranchised, and jaded. That’s how most cops become so jaded. Around the five-year mark, most police officers are jaded because they started their careers overly optimistic and wanting to save the world, but they quickly realized the business is not what they hoped it would be.
For the most part, a police officer does not save lives throughout their day, if ever, and they’re probably not even making anyone’s day better. Even when a cop arrests someone, they probably haven’t had much, if any, positive impact in society. The person will be out of jail before the paperwork is done, which is a common saying for a reason. That is a harsh reality, and one of the reasons cops do not have the positive impact they would like to.
Being a teacher is another job which can be very discouraging, especially if you have students that were like me. If you have young students like I was, who do not appreciate you, it can be hard to find much of a reward in your profession.
It’s important to be realistic from the beginning so you can accept the reality that you’re most likely not going to change the world, and to a large degree, you’re often going to have very little impact. That does not sound very optimistic, but it is realistic.
Now, how do you deal with that, because if you don’t have a driving force to motivate you to get up, you’re just basically living like you’re on a Ford assembly line installing hubcaps or something with no meaning. You must create meaning for yourself within your profession, and it can be very small.
When I teach a Jiu-Jitsu class, or teach cops at the police academy, I’m not changing the world. I accept that, but there’s a chance I can have a small impact on one or two people in that environment. I try to find a way to do something meaningful for other people each day. I try to make it meaningful for me as well, which sometimes means making a little money, or improving my career in a meaningful way—meaningful to me, and also meaningful to others. Seek small victories for yourself and small ways to give back to other people.
Finally, in every job I’ve ever had, I’ve always been working towards a plan B. I’ve always been working towards an exit strategy on the side, even if I’m not planning to leave. Having a plan B is very helpful for your mental well being, because if you hate your day job, you won’t hate it as much if you know it’s a means to an end to get to the next thing.