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How To Motivate Yourself To Do Anything
Motivation gets you started each day whether you know it or not. Everything we do requires some sort of decision and then action to follow through on it. You have to be motivated to get out of bed, to brush your teeth, go to work, eat, exercise, you name it.
Motivation can be an elusive thing. You can have it for something one moment and suddenly the next minute, it is gone. But we break down everything and are motivated by either intrinsic or external motivators. And you have to know what type works for you in order to get yourself into action. So if you aren’t motivated to exercise, maybe you just aren’t doing it the right way.
Intrinsic motivation is when you are motivated to do something because it is a part of who you are. The motivation comes from within. It is driven by your interests, passions, or beliefs. The rewards come from within and are usually better for longer term goals.
There are 5 types of intrinsic motivation:
External motivation is when you are motivated by some external force that could be positive or negative in nature. You basically get what you have put into it, achieving a task or not. Extrinsic motivators can be temporary in nature and are usually only good for sort term goals.
There are 4 types of external motivation:
It’s different for different people and it’s important that if you struggle with exercise motivation to examine where your motivation or lack of motivation is coming from. Maybe you just aren’t focusing on the right kind to get you moving.
For example, you want to do four days of cardio a week and your motivation is to lose 10 pounds so that other people will notice and tell you how good you look. But after being motivated by this for three days, you find that you actually don’t care what other people say.
Or, you know you need to start doing some resistance training because osteoporosis runs in your family and you are afraid that your bones may be so weak in 10 years that you will have trouble moving as freely as you wish. But it is really hard for you to stay focused on staying motivated for an outcome that is so far in the future. The fear wears off.
While external motivators can definitely help get your initial movement going, you need to combine your external workout motivation with intrinsic workout motivation to be able to keep it going long term.
So you are motivated to exercise in order to lose 10 pounds because your 30th high school reunion is in a month. We automatically look for and are driven by all of the external motivators. You want the external validation of how you look, you fear what others will say if you don’t lose the 10 pounds, and we enjoy the incentive of being able to wear that dress we bought for the occasion. But these external motivators are flimsy and disappear quickly when the road gets hard.
But if you frame your goal within the context of an external motivator with an intrinsic motivator you are much more likely to get motivated and stay motivated. For example, envision how you will feel about yourself when you reach this weight loss goal. What if you researched and learned new ways to reach this goal or you actually began to motivate others by setting a good example for them. Or what if didn’t follow some popular workout plan and instead created your own path to reach your goal.
So when setting an exercise or workout goal for yourself, use this combination to get you moving initially and then all the way to the end. It is important to sit down and think about this thing you want and build your motivators around it. Be strategic. Don’t just go at it willy-nilly.
You have to plan your motivation, just like you do anything. Know that those external motivations are going to come and go and be prepared for it. Use those intrinsic motivators to bring you back. Remember, if you fall off the wagon one day, just get back on the next. Know what you are going for and you’ll get there.
If you need some ways to stay motivated, make sure to listen to my Monday Workout Motivation Episodes on Redesigning Midlife: