Friday, 1 March 2013

The root of motivation

Motivation is a word I hear often in lots of different ways
" I'm not motivated"
" I wish I was motivated"
" I'm motivated by chocolate...."

But I have never really thought that hard about WHERE my motivation comes from and the importance of whether it came from me ( intrinsic) or from others ( external).

External motivation I found is good for me in the short term.  It's a bit like a drill sergeant yelling at you, or the compliments you receive from others. 

After all who doesn't feel great when someone says " Wow, you look fantastic!  You are so healthy."?  When people say nice things, I feel good and so I repeat the things that brought the compliments or praise to keep feeling good.

These types of things push me in the short term to go and choose healthy food and go to gym the 6 times a week. People saying " I know you can" makes me go and do it.  But then I found that it was too easy to lose this type of motivation.  Relying on others perceptions and thoughts, and their comments is a bit like a sugar rush.....I feel great when I experience it but it ebbs away very quickly and I'm dragging myself to the gym again, or eating half a packet of lolly snakes just because they were there.  The more I work out and bring healthy food, the more people come to accept it and the praise and compliments start drying up...nothing has changed, except what I do has become familiar behaviour and doesn't get noticed as much.  My source of motivation dries up.

If I relied on that type of motivation alone, I would 'fall off the wagon' permanently. What I have been doing would just have been another 'phase' or another diet and the changes I have made would disappear into nothingness. I'd end up with all the health problems I had before, the weight would come back on and i'd just stop doing what is good for me. After all, it takes a lot of effort to haul myself out of bed in the dark and go to the gym before I go to work...I know I would like to sit with a cup of coffee instead.

 Or sit drinking a cup of coffee with Johnny Depp....gym?  what gym?

Intrinisic motivation is what keeps me going.  The motivation I can find in myself to keep myself going.  This is in the way hard basket.  Developing the habit of going to gym and being healthy helps keep me going but all habits can be broken! I need something else to keep me on track.  Habits are good when motivation runs low but it's not the sole answer.

What I need to create my own motivation is inside me.  It may be a goal I want to achieve, an ideal I am aiming for but it has to come from me.  I can't do it for my husband.  I can't do it for my kids, or friends.  I have to do it for me.


Because it is ME who has to do the workout. It is ME who has to plan my nutrition to be more fruit and vegetable than chocolate and wine.   It is ME who will be experiencing the results of the decisions I make....noone else.

So while it is definitely heartwarming and motivating to be told how good I look now, and how much I changed, I don't want to run out of steam.  I may run low, but never out.  I make sure that my intrinsic motivation is firing up too....and that is a much harder fire to start.

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