How bad do you want it… really?

I don’t know what the cause is, but lately I’ve been hearing from people I talk to and commentators here on ye olde interwebs, that they’d love to do something–be that compete in a certain mountain bike race, travel somewhere, or achieve some other goal–but they just can’t do it.

Personally, I think that’s BS. I’m a firm believer in the ability of human beings to achieve and accomplish just about anything that they set their minds to. The key is deciding what exactly it is that they want, and how bad they actually want it.

How bad do you want to make it to the top of that next hill? Photo: Bob Ward
How bad do you want to make it to the top of that next hill? Photo: Bob Ward

What DO you want?

Sometimes first deciding what it is you want can be the hardest feat of all to overcome. So often we can find ourselves stuck in an apathetic mode where we don’t really have a zeal or a zest to do… well, just about anything. Instead, we go to work, do our jobs, go home, mow the grass, feed the kids, and spend the weekend working on the house, because we feel like we have to. We’re stuck, and we feel like we don’t have any choices.

Snap out of it!

There’s always a choice! I hereby officially give you permission to dream big, to ponder what it is you want to accomplish in your life, where you want to go, and what you want to do.

Rider: Mandil Pradhan. Photo: Fabian Gleitsman.
Rider: Mandil Pradhan. Photo: Fabian Gleitsman.

Do you want to ride a dirty century? Do you want to travel to an epic mountain bike destination that you’ve never visited? Do you want to take up bikepacking?

If you don’t already have a lofty goal or dream stuck in your craw, step one is to sit down and start brainstorming exactly what it is you want to do with your life.

Sometimes we just don’t want it bad enough.

Oftentimes, if we’re actually honest with ourselves, we might really like the idea of doing something or accomplishing some goal. But when it actually comes to accomplishing that goal, it turns out that we just don’t want it bad enough to put ourselves through the pain and the exertion that accomplishing that endeavor requires.

Speaking from my own life, in the past I’ve thought that I wanted to be a professional skier–this was my childhood dream. And while I was extremely talented at downhill skiing, I realized that I didn’t want it bad enough to put my life in danger every time I clicked into my bindings.

Later, I thought that I wanted to be a professional mountain guide. But after dabbling in guiding, I realized that I didn’t want it bad enough to live the rest of my life below the poverty line.

At times I thought that maybe I’d want to compete in the world of mountain biking, but then I realized that I didn’t want it bad enough to train to the level that’d be required of me to attain those speeds.

In your own life, think about what dreams and ambitions you’ve had in the past–be it mountain bike related or otherwise–that you never attained. And ask yourself: did you really want that thing?

When you really want it–and bad.

If you well and truly want to accomplish something, don’t tell me you can’t do it. Instead, look deep into your soul, and ask yourself: how bad do you want it–really? And if you find that you really do want it–and bad–then you better HTFU and get ready to suffer!

One goal that I truly wanted to achieve was completing a dirty century. I really wanted it! I wanted it so badly that I sacrificed every Saturday for half a year to train for hours and hours. I rode my road bike in the 45-degree winter rain, week in and week out. I spent money on the components and products I needed to complete my goal. I drove two hours into Atlanta, on two different occasions, for a professional bike fit, to help me attain my goal.

I wanted it so bad that even after DNFing a 100-mile race, I dusted myself off, let my legs recover, and then successfully completed the feat on my own.

Finishing my dirty century. Photo: Dustin Heard
Finishing my dirty century. Photo: Dustin Heard

This past year, I’ve had to ask myself, as I dealt with two separate injuries: how bad did I want to get well again… really? You might think the answer to that question is obvious, but when you’re faced with six months of physical therapy, associated doctors bills, and the cost of parts to make your bike work for your broken down body, sometimes the answer isn’t so easy. I’ve had to tell myself that yes, I want this–and badly. I had to want it to the point where I’d push my body week in and week out, to push through the pain, to train, to work hard, and to focus on recovering.

As I think about 2016, I have some really lofty goals that I want to accomplish on my mountain bike, and I know that my fitness is nowhere near where I want it to be. That means that as we dive into a cold, dark winter, I am having to dig deep to find the resolve to train, to log miles week in and week out–even in below freezing temps in the snow, aboard the fat bike. I’ll be honest: sometimes I just don’t want to do it. I’m feeling discouraged that winter has barely started, and we have at least four more months–if not more–of this drudgery. But if I want to set myself up for success, if I really do want to accomplish those goals in the next year, now is the time to ask myself before every ride: “How bad do I want it?” And to answer back, “Yes, I WANT THIS!!!”

Photo: Sergio Barboni
Photo: Sergio Barboni

What about you?

What goals do you have for the next year? If you don’t know yet, go back up to step one and try writing some ideas down. And then think long and hard: how bad do you want it… really?

If you decide that you want it badly enough, don’t let anything stand in your way! Pedal, ride, train, persevere. Push yourself until you think you can’t go any further, and then go just a little more.

If you really want it, I have faith that you can accomplish it.

Just don’t tell me at the end of the year that you couldn’t achieve it, because I’ll retort right back: “you just didn’t want it bad enough.”

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