Here we are still in the first trimester of the New Year, busy at work and back at school, with sights set on making this year the one to reach our goals in diet and fitness. Weight loss is cited to be the Number 1 Resolution on everyone’s list! Smoking cessation and increased physical activity are close behind.
So, where does the motivation kick in, that lasting drive to stick to our decisions and promises of the changes up ahead? We usually see motivation as something to ‘get,’ as if there were a magic place to locate and then utilize this missing ingredient. Dozens of clients ask me, ‘So how do I get motivated’? Consider that there are many kinds of motivation, and it might be a matter of finding the right one for you. Although psychologists would call my breakdown below somewhat over-simplified, I’d like to help you to understand your motivation from four points of view.
If you can match your motivation to your personality, you might find you can break free from being stuck. The rewards associated with your efforts will pull you forward more naturally.
Four Kinds of Motivation:
Extrinsic Motivation: In this case, you are motivated by external rewards. You might save the money otherwise spent on cigarettes to treat yourself to a holiday weekend or an afternoon shopping. You might find that cash incentives for participating in wellness programs are provided at your place of work. You might find it motivating to join in friendly competition, for example, winning a contest by taking the most steps each day on average. You might learn to dance so you can stand out at the next party!
Intrinsic Motivation: You are interested in the task at hand and you believe that you have control over its outcome, not needing a reward or prize outside of the activity itself. You might also enjoy the activity for its secondary benefits such as a joining a walk-a-thon to raise money for a cause, volunteering at the YMCA to coach a sport, or bike riding because it is a pretty route and clears your mind.
Systemic Motivation: For the purposes of this article, I use the phrase systemic motivation to refer to motivators directed at the good of the whole, because you feel it is the ‘right’ thing to do in the greater scheme of things. Examples might be forsaking meat to save animal suffering, eating local produce with a small carbon footprint, taking a bike to work to reduce pollution and traffic on the roads.
Innate Motivation: This kind of motivation is held within and does not need much thought as to how it will get done or the pleasure in doing it. You may have deeply ingrained habits that you don’t really think about, such as dental hygiene, basic grooming, bed time at 11pm, being in a good mood every day, or drinking enough water. You might find it natural to set a good example for your kids and instill good values by demonstrating good habits of your own. These innate habits are automatic and it would be an effort NOT to do them!
So before you worry about motivation, take some time to think about what gets you fired up and why. Ask yourself what you liked to do as a kid and how it is that you would like to express your individuality. Ask yourself what is your unique version of a ‘reward’ and how immediate does it have to be. As yourself which successes you had in the past and what it was like. Remember how you felt when you participated fully in your own life and embraced your own body as a source of fun and creativity.
What motivates you? Locate the best source of your motivation and use this knowledge to custom design the supportive elements of your diet and fitness program.