‘Life’ Performance: Maintaining Motivation in Light of COVID-19

Featuring a chat with NRL Player Corey Waddell

My name’s Kate – intern at Veretis by day, hobby trail-runner by evening. 3-months ago I decided to sign up for one of the biggest trail-running events in Australia –the Ultra Trail Australia half marathon. Every day I’d go out to train, I would think of the gruelling course I was to be faced with in May, every kilometre I clocked in preparing me to be fit and strong enough to take on the course. Having been competitively running for the last couple of years, I have always picked a goal, a race, and trained towards it to keep myself motivated.

With the cancellation of all group gatherings due to COVID – 19, my event was also cancelled. After riding the initial wave of emotions from disappointment to frustration to understanding, I was forced to put things in perspective, re-evaluate my goals and question why I am doing what I am doing.

It made me consider all others in the world who are going through something similar – some worse than others. Ultimately, we’re all ‘performing’ at something, and working towards these goals in the background. So, how can we maintain focus and motivation in this new normal of unknown and inaccessibility?

NRL player Corey Waddell recently received news of the suspension of the NRL season – including all games and training. Like many others in this time Corey is facing potential job-loss and pay cuts. This includes the loss of his team environments, training routines and facilities. I spoke to Corey to gain an insight of coping with this change and loss from the perspective of an elite athlete. I also wanted to find out how these skills and strategies are transferrable to all of us, and what we can to to keep performing.

Support Networks – Stay Connected

Every day, Corey goes into his training at home aiming to improve. This is helped by encouragement and motivation from teammates and coaches. This support is also at the core of his love for the sport.

“I am used to having someone around me 24/7, getting me into a routine and pushing me to train and play harder everyday.”

As part of this, he acknowledges the importance of staying connected in other ways as best we can.

If you are struggling with COVID-19 distancing, try and use this to help. Call on those people who inspire and motivate you daily – social distancing doesn’t have to mean socially disconnecting. We’re lucky to have access to stay connected with one another through the click of a button.

Corey stays in touch with key people who contribute to his motivation – dietitians, coaches and teammates.

“I get messages from my coaches everyday asking what I have done or if there is anything that they can do for me… (daily) the team manager provides us with an inspirational quote!”

Learn to recognise who motivates you, and how to be the motivator for others.

Whatever you’re doing while distancing, maintain your community and help one another through this time.

Still have happy hour at 5pm with your colleagues Friday afternoon – try virtually! Check in with your gym buddies and hold them accountable for their home workout. Get on the Xbox and play NBA2k20 against your basketball teammates! Nothing is too bizarre – find what works for you to maintain that connection. Support networks throughout this time (and always) are invaluable.

Goals and Plans

  1. Put your current goals into perspective

“The sport is everything to me. I have been playing my whole life and I have never imagined my life without sport”.

Corey tells us that this is the first time he’s considered what not playing rugby league again feels like. He says the thought of not being able to do something he loves is hard, but it’s allowed him to put into perspective that rugby league isn’t everything. Adapting a more open-minded approach has enabled him to appreciate and love the sport while he is in it, but also to prepare for the future and not put all his ‘eggs in one basket’.

Personally, removing the pressure of being ‘race-ready’ as the ultimate goal enabled me remember my love for running and the way it makes me feel. I also reflected on the benefits it has on my all-round well-being, with all of these factors acting as the purpose underlying why I do what I do.

  1. Adapt and change your goals to be achievable within your control

Although there are many things out of our control right now, there are many things we can still control. These are what we must focus on when adapting our goals to be achievable within the context of the current world.

For Corey, he mentions working on personal development over physical development as an important goal, now more than ever – i.e. maintaining optimism, focus and motivation.

Specifically, his adjusted goals centre around maintaining pre-season training gains, and preserving belief he will play again. Additionally, he has set goals around diet, as it is something he can still nail whilst in isolation.

Focusing on goals to achieve in this time of uncertainty can help us develop and maintain a sense of achievement. You can start with small steps, such as getting outside of the house to exercise. Start pushing yourself to go for a 5km run – then work towards a 10km. You can try to beat your times, and continue setting goals for yourself that you can achieve.

That way, at the end of the day you can reflect on everything you have achieved that day. Continuing to challenge yourself and strive for improvement will help you keep performing, and allow you to easily jump back into everything.

  1. Put a plan in place

Hold yourself accountable to your adjusted goals by creating a plan. As humans, we are more likely to see our goals through if we have a detailed plan (e.g. time, place, frequency, duration).

Corey gets up daily to get on the exercise bike, followed by weights to keep his body and mind fresh. “Before I work out, I always write up my programs or have an exact plan on how much I want to do. This way I have a target on what I need to get done, anything else is a bonus!”. Corey highlights that keeping busy with a plan can help us to feel accomplished and is important in maintaining positivity.

Holding yourself accountable through these plans will help you drive performance. If you set these actions in place, you can create habits, or know exactly what you want to achieve before starting. That way, you can push yourself to finish exactly what you planned to do. This can prevent you from doing a 10 minute home workout, and feeling tired, getting distracted or giving up. If you pre plan and commit yourself to a 45 minute session from 7am – 7.45, you will be more motivated to complete the whole thing.

So what have we learned?

Overall, a common theme I’ve seen throughout conversation is – don’t stop. Maintain perspective, as nothing is permanent. Although it may feel like it, the world is not on hold. Things will go on, and we will overcome this. Therefore, we too need to keep going.  Whatever that goal is, adapt, change and make it happen.

Corey highlights that “Difficult roads often lead to the best destinations”. We at Veretis can’t wait to see where this road takes us.

For more information contact us today. Please send us an email, give us a call at (02) 9929 8515, check out our LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook or find more Psych Up! resources here.