What the Olympics can tell us about motivation for mums…

August 21, 2016

We are basking in the glory of a second place finish in the 2016 Olympic games and I am sure that when many of us have been watching the TV we are wondering to ourselves “what is it that motivates these athletes to work so hard?”. The athlete that I think impressed me the most was Jessica Ennis-Hill, mum to a 2 year old child who came back after childbirth to become world champion and then added to that with a silver medal at the Olympic games. 

As someone who has run the London Marathon with probably one of the most half-hearted training schedules ever seen I do have a tendency to be pretty awestruck by people who can get themselves out of bed every day and focus so intently on their goal that they achieve it. I remember as a kid thinking I would love to win Olympic gold, I suppose you could say it was a dream of mine but as I had no actions how to get there and it didn't align with any of my core values it is not surprising that the closest I have got to a medal is runner up in the wacky Olympics at Secret Garden Festival back in 2012. As a coach you realise that dreams will not be achieved unless the client is committed to making them happen. 

As a mother I understand that our priorities change, our bodies are altered and we are no longer able to be as selfish as we once were. Jessica Ennis-Hill took 3 months maternity leave and then was back to full time training in October 2014. We all know that returning to work post baby is hard, returning to work post baby when that work is intensive physical training demands respect. Jessica was able to motivate herself as she had a clear goal, she wanted to return to competition and to win Olympic gold. Along the way, Jessica won the world championship 9 months after returning from maternity leave and a year post baby. Although the second Olympic gold proved elusive I think every mum felt pretty emotional when they watched Jessica winning silver in Rio. If Jessica had won the gold she would have been only the third Olympian to retain her title post baby. 

So why did Jessica achieve her goal when so many others failed? Yes, she was motivated – she was clear what she wanted and what the end state would be. By imagining where she wanted to be she was setting an intention in her mind and was taking clear steps on how she was going to get there. She would have worked with her coach to ensure that her training plan made sure that the Olympic medal was realistic. The incremental successes will have helped her to stay on track. In coaching, if you have an end goal in mind you work with your coach on the steps that you have to take to achieve that goal so, like Jessica, you are successful. 


Whenever we commit to goals there are barriers and obstacles that we have to tackle. As a new mum these obstacles may be related to our new bundles of joy – they may not be sleeping, they may be sick, they may be going through a developmental leap and finding it hard.. the list goes on. For Jessica she has said that the sleep, or lack of it, was one of the hardest things when returning to training. To get up and train when you have had a night of broken sleep requires steely motivation and commitment to your goal. 

Having a baby does change you but equally what is inside can stay the same, for Jessica Ennis-Hill she remained competitive and determined to succeed. Her determination is now more focused on showing her son what his mum can do but it is still there. She had to adapt her training to fulfil the duel role of mother and athlete and she had to overcome more barriers than some of her fellow athletes. What Jessica Ennis-Hill did last weekend in Rio was show that being a mother doesn't need to be a barrier to success in any field. You might have to work that little bit harder, you will need to adjust how you work from how you did before and it certainly helps if you have people around you to help you, but if you are motivated and committed your dreams are within your grasp. 

If you have life or business coaching  with me we will spend time working on your goal to ensure that you have complete clarity over what you want to achieve be that setting up your own successful business, having a better work-life balance or developing your confidence. We will then look at where you are currently in relation to the goal and start working on strategies to move you towards your goal. During the coaching relationship if you are committed to making changes you will achieve your goals. I am passionate about providing business and life coaching for mums as I believe that we all have so much more potential than we give ourselves credit for and want others to achieve the success and work life balance that I have been able to.

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