Those of us who are paid to perform all have a countdown. The moment when we need to perform at our best because it matters the most.

Core Pilates & FitnessSean Bartram at Core Pilates & Fitness trains the Colts Cheerleaders and on the mirror, he has the number of days before the try-outs. Many coaches, athletes, and teams also have similar countdowns, such as, the 2016 Olympic Trials, or FIFA World Cup. Maybe for us, it’s a specific race or event?

In order to play our best when it matters the most, we need to develop the mentality that our best is needed today. So, how do we develop this mindset?

Coaches in all areas find tons of ways to externally motivate. They create cultures of excellence, set goals, post motivational quotes, and even bring in speakers, ex-athletes or Sport Psychologists (yes!). Companies and businesses use the seemingly biggest external motivator of all, pay and benefits (except research shows this isn’t true). Each of these motivational tools all work, up to a point.

What replaces the external motivation actually becomes more important because at some point, it will get tough. We will have setbacks, encounter adversity, and struggle. What needs to motivate us is our “why.” Our internal motivation of “why” we do what we do.

If we don’t determine our “why”, we won’t continually put forth our best effort during the countdown. Complacency can easily set in and we may say to ourselves, “this day doesn’t matter that much.” The reality is that you’re right; physically it may not make a difference. However, it matters mentally, because if our “why” is not strong enough, we will make excuses when it gets tough. When the countdown to performance gets close, we will then put forth our best, but at that point, so is everyone else.

Our “why” should make us cry, if not, then it’s probably not our why…It is tough to develop an emotional connection to what drives us. What motivated us two years ago may not motivate us now! We may discover that our internal motivation is really about pleasing others, proving others wrong, or that we are actually trying to fulfill someone else’s goals that THEY had for US.

We are who we are when we are alone…We can fool everyone in our lives that we are putting forth our best effort, or that we have it all together. Except, we just can’t fool ourselves. If we want to perform our best when it matters the most, we need to develop our internal motivation now, not later. Think about it, pray about it, and write it down, you’ll know you’ve got your real “why” when it brings a tear to your eye.

Sean BartramSean Bartram B.Sc (hons.), MBASES is owner of Core Pilates and Fitness ( and head trainer to the Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders. Follow him @corepilatesllc

The Hinge-The Importance of Mental Toughness Dr. Rob BellDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology coach. DRB & Associates based in Indianapolis works with athletes, coaches, and teams building their Mental Toughness.  His 2nd book titled The Hinge: The Importance of Mental Toughness was recently released. Follow on twitter @drrobbell  or contact