Updated: Jul 19
Many of us set new health and fitness goals with excitement and enthusiasm. In the beginning we're super motivate to make change and see results. Then somewhere along the way, motivation waivers and we lose sight of our goal.
Did you know there are different types of motivation that drive and inspire us?
There is the motivation that comes from inside us, such as the pure pleasure of engaging in an activity, and then there is the type of motivation that comes from a perceived reward (or the need to avoid a negative consequence), such as showing up at work to earn your paycheck or getting in more steps each day to support a healthy heart.
Do you know what you need to be successful, in other words, what do you need to stay motivated?
Studies show we achieve the best results by relying on both internal and external motivations. And research has found that when you have both types of motivation when working toward a goal, you not only achieve greater results, but you have greater focus and associate more value on putting forth consistent effort, which results in a significant increase in your short and long term success.
What is Motivation?
Research has identified two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Each plays an important role in you reaching your goals and sustaining results.
Intrinsic Motivation comes from doing something personally rewarding and enjoyable, basically doing something for the pure pleasure of doing it. Examples of this might be taking a walk outside because you enjoy being out in nature or participating in a group event because you enjoy the camaraderie of others.
Extrinsic Motivation comes from doing something for the perceived reward, or to avoid a negative consequence or perceived punishment. Examples of this might be eating healthier and exercising to improve health stats or studying for an exam in order to get a good grade.
How it works.
Most of us tend to start off using both types of motivation when working toward a healthy living goal. As you move along your journey, motivation will ebb and flow, by using a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, you're able to hone in on what works best to keep you moving forward in a variety of situations. For example when you take a walk outside you might appreciate the moment, enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells and that alone could boost feelings of happiness. On that same walk we might also seek a payoff for routinely committing to taking a walk, such as a boosting health and supporting a healthy waistline. The pleasure of the walk itself is intrinsic motivation, while the payoff of having seeing results of your efforts is extrinsic.
Motivation changes and evolves.
As we learn, grow and evolve, getting closer to your goal, what initially motivated you will often change. For example, if you started eating healthier to lose weight and improve your overall health you may have been more focused on the extrinsic reward of losing inches and improving health stats, then as you begin to feel better and notice improvements in other areas of your life, such as increased energy, improved mental focus and boosted mood, your intrinsic motivation kicks in - not only are you seeing results, you are feeling them! And that motivates you to keep making healthier choices because you see and feel the benefit.
Motivation will come and go.
We are continuously influenced by internal and external factors, which can be encouraging or discouraging in the moment. These influences can also derail or support our goals, causing our efforts to either fade or soar. The key to maintaining motivation over the long haul is to incorporate a combination of internal and external drives. Having reasons for participating in the activity, putting in the effort, and seeing both the short and long term benefit will often reinforce both internal and external needs.
You can start laying the groundwork for this by asking "how will I feel when I make this choice?" If it is a choice that is considered good, you are probably going to have positive feelings, if it is choice that is considered bad, then you are probably going to have negative feelings associated with it. Decide how you want to feel about the choice you are about to make - not just now, but tomorrow and beyond. Different things will work on different days, for various moods, environments, situations, etc. Just because something worked well one day, or for a few weeks, or even a few months or years, does not mean it won't need to be reassessed and tweaked from time to time. In fact, that is very normal.
Bottom line: motivation is like having your own inner cheerleader. Ready to get you going, excite you, generate enthusiasm, and encourage you when you need it. But even the best cheerleader needs support from her team members to keep that momentum going, and that's when you need to pull from outside sources. Hone in on your reasons for showing up and continuing to put in effort. With intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, you have powerhouse team that will encourage, support and keep you moving forward!
Are you a busy man or woman who's ready to feel strong, live healthy, and get fit? Discover how to take small steps to get healthy & fit without cutting out the foods you love or spending countless hours on cardio. Come join me inside my online Facebook Community - The Healthy Habits Club. It's where busy folks go for tips, tools and support they need to eat healthy, move daily, and feel good for life!