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I've often wondered whether people are just born with an inner drive or if it's something that we build, like our muscles. Some people seem so naturally driven and others so naturally lazy. I lean toward the idea that we all have it. It's just that some choose to make theirs stronger than others. Even a hobo who lives on the street could have had some inner drive that he didn't want to work his life away or conform to society. I have lots of friends whose inner drive is just to drink as much beer as they can and they do a damn good job of it. That's their goal and more power to them, even though I don't see it as that lofty of a goal. My point being if you think about it, we all pretty much live how we choose and that's a goal. That goal took some kind of drive to get there, even if it may not seem like much to others. So I think that everyone is born with some drive, but again, like a muscle, use it or lose it.

I've been fortunate in my life in that I seem to always have drive. But then again, maybe it had something to do with my dad, who had me working on it even when I was a boy. He always taught me about how important a positive attitude was and he made me read books about it. He explained visualization and that if you want to be really good at something, it takes lots of hard work. It takes focus, practice and determination, and you have to set goals. I won't lie. There were some big arguments about all this, but some of it managed to sink it. I just had to figure out how to put my own twist on it first. I could just be born with it, but I believe that I trained and built it just like my physical strength.

There are so many things that I've tried or used over the years to keep that drive strong. I think the first and foremost thing to do is sit down and really think about what you want. Then you have to think about what it will take to get it. I see many people who don't do this and they end up wasting a lot of their own time and other people's time. Is this something you really want, and are you willing to do what it takes to get it? If you aren't willing to do what it takes, it isn't over. Maybe this is something that you still want to pursue, just not at your original goal level. For example, let's say that you want a custom chopper. OK, how much will it really cost to get one exactly like the one you want? How are you going to get the money? How much overtime will you have to work? How long will you have to save? What will you have to sacrifice? Maybe you're willing to do whatever it takes or maybe you realize how much it will take. You have a choice. Reevaluate or give up completely. Maybe you realized that a regular Harley will be enough, or maybe you saw a Japanese cruiser that you like. Maybe the work and sacrifice that it would take to get that will meet your reevaluated goal.

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Here's another example. Say you want to be an 800-pound bencher. Well, you need to sit down and realistically think about what that will take. Then you need to decide if you're willing to do it. In my opinion, you're better off having a realistic idea of what you want and go for that. Otherwise, you're just setting yourself up for failure. When my training partner first decided to train with us, we sat down and had a long talk. He was very up front and, in my opinion, went about it in a very good way. He basically said, "I have a family and a job. I'm getting older and have had a lot of injuries." He said that he knew he would never break any world records or win a world championship, but that wasn't what he was after. He wanted to get stronger and be a good state, or maybe national, lifter. He was very honest with himself about what he wanted and what he was willing to put into training. I had a lot of respect for that, and he ended up being an amazing training partner because the time he did have to put in was 100 percent.

You don't have to come in thinking that you want to be the best in the world or that you're going to destroy everyone. It's much better to be realistic with what you want to go for. Now, if you do want to be the absolute best, you can, but be realistic about what that will take. If that's what you want, go 100 percent at it.

So you've decided what you want and you're willing to do whatever it takes. What is the next step? Setting goals is the next thing to do. You need to have a clearly defined idea of where you want to go. You can drive through the fog at a slow pace or you can speed and risk crashing. You want a clean windshield and a clear day, so you can haul ass while still seeing everything that is coming. The point is you need that clear goal to get there as quickly as possible with the fewest problems.

When setting your goals, I like to set that big goal so that it's always out there and you can always remember why you're doing this. I want to bench 800 pounds, or I want to win a world championship. I want that big, badass custom chopper. Whatever it is. Now you need to set small obtainable goals that progressively help you reach your main goal. It's like walking in a windy snowstorm. You know where you're going and why you're out there, but it's easier to focus on leaning into the wind and taking one step at a time. Each step gets you that much closer to your goal. Define what you want and what it will take to get there and then set the goals. This is important because you need to know what you're after and you will need to remind yourself at times.

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Something that is very helpful for me is to write myself notes and place them in areas where I will see them every day. Now that you have your goal, write it on a Post-It™ note and stick on your bathroom mirror so that you see it every day. Every morning it reminds you why you got up that day. Write notes about smaller goals and put them next to your bedroom door. Put them in the bathroom, on the kitchen cabinets, on the side of your television and in your car. Put them anywhere that you can see them and will be reminded of them. This may seem like a small thing and it may seem like you'll just get used to them, but it works. Even if you don't think about it so much, your subliminal mind will see it.

After my first seminar with Dave and elitefts™, I received a card thanking me for attending the seminar. It also said, "Think 2100 pounds (at that point, I had only totaled 1700 pounds). I pinned that next to my bedroom door for years and I still have it today. I used to tap it every time I left the room. Even after I totaled over 2100, it was just a reminder to keep pushing because I had more in me. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in the process that we forget the goal and the drive that comes with that goal.

Another thing I do a lot is use imagery. If you can't see it in your own mind, you will never do it, and if you can see it, you're one more step closer to doing it. The most common use of imagery is seeing a lift or any athletic movement right before you do it. This is great, and I use this every lifting session, but what I'm talking about here is different. I'm talking about taking time out to see yourself achieving your goal, see yourself break that world record or win that championship. See and feel each lift and then feel what it's like to achieve that goal. Hear them call your name or hand you that medal. You could compare it to daydreaming I suppose, but I want you to feel every little detail of it—the smell of the chalk, the feel of the bar, the sound of the crowd cheering. Feel every little detail down to that medal around your neck.

I used to set aside time each week to do this. I would go into my room, turn off all the lights and sit on the floor against the wall. Sometimes it was just visualizing the next meet and sometimes it was visualizing the big goal. When it comes to powerlifting, it is a very long journey and doing this keeps that goal real. It reminds you what all the hard work and sacrifice is for. It reminds you that it's all worth it.

Another way that you can use imagery is to make a challenge more real. We all have times in the gym when we're just not into it. Maybe it was a long day at work, stress from bills, a fight with a spouse, worries about school or any number of things that we have to deal with in our regular lives. In this situation, imagery can help you get around this and focus better on the task at hand.

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I'm well known for my intensity when I lift and so much of this is from imagery. In my head, I make the situation life or death. I make it a battle that has to be won. I use that imagery to make that moment the only thing in my life. I get complete tunnel vision where I only see the platform and weights. That is my whole world at that moment and nothing else exists. You can put yourself in this place to pull the most out of yourself. I'll often use imagery to put myself in a meet situation at the gym. It's kind of like when you were a kid shooting hoops by yourself or hitting baseballs. You imagine the end of the game and you need that one last hit or basket to win the game. I'll imagine that I'm at the meet and only have three lifts. I'll stick to that at the gym too. It's real with no second chances. If I'm going for a big PR in a lift, I'll imagine that it's my last attempt at the meet and I need it for a new world record. Doing this is twofold in that it helps motivate you for better training sessions and also transfers over into helping you be a better meet performer. So when your inner drive is having trouble, use your imagination and imagery to kick things in gear and get the most out of yourself.

One of the things that can weaken our inner drive is negativity, and I think as humans in this society, we tend to be around a lot of it in our regular lives. If you ever really stop to think about your normal day, I bet you'll begin to see all kinds of ways that people are negative. That negativity can definitely zap your inner motivation. This happens with how people talk and the words they choose to use. I'm very big on this one, and if you're around me enough, you'll see how aggravated I get if you use those negative words. They may not seem like much, but they have a profound effect on your psyche. Never use words like “I wish,” “I hope,” “I want to” or “I'm going to try.” These are all negative and weak words or sayings. You should be saying things like “I'm going to” or “I will achieve this!” If you want to keep your inner drive up, you have to be positive that you'll meet your goal, so speak in a way that shows it. There isn't any room for negativity or weakness, and even the little things, like how we speak, count.

MORE Mental Imagery Techniques: Can They Make You Bigger and Stronger?

With all the negativity that people produce, you can sometimes turn that into positive energy. I can't speak for everyone, but I hate to be told what I can and can't do. I've always been open about what my goals are, and when people say that they aren't possible or they think that I won't be able to do it, this basically turns into positive energy for me. I take those negative words and let them drive me. I remember them and I draw them out when I need them, like when my inner drive gets a little down. I will want to achieve that goal even more because I like to prove those people wrong. Just because they never chose to put themselves on the line or push themselves to greatness doesn't mean that I won't. I will not let them draw me down to their level, so I use their words for positive fuel to keep me going when things get rough. Their negativity just fuels my fire.

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Like I said, I'm a big believer in putting your goals out there for people to see. It's like drawing that line in the sand. Some people keep them quiet. I think at least some of the time, that's because if they fail, no one will know. If that's the case, those people really aren't that positive that they can even achieve the goal to begin with. I see this a lot when lifters have upcoming meets and they won't let people know what numbers they're going after.

I'm also a very big believer that all a man really has in this world is his word. It's the only thing that can't be taken away from him. So I will combine these two thoughts and say this is my goal and this is what I will achieve. I will proudly commit to it out loud. This is what I want, and I will do whatever it takes to get there. If you're really a man or woman of your word, you will remember this during the hard times and it will keep you pushing forward. Make a promise to yourself that you will see this through and you won't quit. Keeping a promise is a very important thing, just as giving your word is. At the very least, let your family and training partners know. Not only will this motivate you, but if these people are really your friends, they will respect it and want to help you achieve your goal.

I've said that training the inner drive is like training your strength, and we all know that there are highs and lows. Sometimes your inner drive will be unstoppable, and other times it may feel like it's weak. Sometimes you will have doubts, and sometimes it will be hard to keep yourself motivated. You need to look at these as great opportunities to work on and strengthen your inner drive, just like sometimes you start a training session where everything feels like crap but you know it's a day when you just need to nut up and get it done. Sometimes those days turn out to be your best training sessions and you just kill it. The same thing goes with inner drive. If you're having a bad day and are feeling negative or having trouble staying motivated, tell yourself that this is when it really counts. This is a great chance to use all of those things you've been practicing and you're going to dig deep to pull out your ass kicking inner drive.

Use some imagery to feel what it will be like to obtain your goal or use it to remember all those negative people who doubted you. Find those notes that you wrote or notes that people wrote you and reread them. Think about those promises or commitments that you made to yourself or others. Think about how you committed to this goal and how you promised yourself. Remember your original goal and remember all the little goals that it will take to get there. Remember the goals that you've already accomplished and focus on the next goal. Do this every time it gets hard and you start having doubts. Do it every time you have trouble doing what you need to do. Just like lifting technique, it will become a natural thing after some time. Before you know it, this behavior will become a habit that will keep you on the path to achieving great goals!