What is your biggest motivator to stay fit and healthy? Leave your comment below.
My motivation is not necessarily to increase my longevity, although that is a great benefit, but more to increase the quality of my day-to-day life. Staying healthy means less sick time (stronger immune system), less restrictions on physical activities, and boosting moral and happiness.
The two main types of motivation are frequently described as being either extrinsic or intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation arises from outside of the individual and often involves external rewards such as trophies, money, social recognition, or praise.
Intrinsic motivation is internal and arises from within the individual, such as doing a complicated crossword puzzle purely for the gratification of solving a problem.2
Some research suggests that there is a third type of motivation: family motivation.3 An example of this type is going to work when you are not motivated to do so internally (no intrinsic motivation), but because it is a means to support your family financially.
Motivation serves as a guiding force for all human behavior. So, understanding how motivation works and the factors that may impact it can be important for several reasons.
All people experience fluctuations in their motivation and willpower. Sometimes you feel fired up and highly driven to reach your goals. Other times, you might feel listless or unsure of what you want or how to achieve it.
If you’re feeling low on motivation, there are steps you can take to help increase your drive. Some things you can do to develop or improve your motivation include:
Adjust your goals to focus on things that really matter to you. Focusing on things that are highly important to you will help push you through your challenges more than goals based on things that are low in importance.
If you’re tackling something that feels too big or too overwhelming, break it up into smaller, more manageable steps. Then, set your sights on achieving only the first step. Instead of trying to lose 50 pounds, for example, break this goal down into five-pound increments.
Improve your confidence. Research suggests that there is a connection between confidence and motivation.6 So, gaining more confidence in yourself and your skills can impact your ability to achieve your goals.
Remind yourself about what you’ve achieved in the past and where your strengths lie. This helps keep self-doubts from limiting your motivation.
If there are things you feel insecure about, try working on making improvements in those areas so you feel more skilled and capable.
There are a few things you should watch for that might hurt or inhibit your motivation levels. These include:
All-or-nothing thinking: If you think that you must be absolutely perfect when trying to reach your goal or there is no point in trying, one small slip-up or relapse can zap your motivation to keep pushing forward.
Believing in quick fixes: It’s easy to feel unmotivated if you can’t reach your goal immediately but reaching goals often takes time.
Thinking that one size fits all: Just because an approach or method worked for someone else does not mean that it will work for you. If you don’t feel motivated to pursue your goals, look for other things that will work better for you.
Motivation and Mental Health
Sometimes a persistent lack of motivation is tied to a mental health condition such as depression. Talk to your doctor if you are feeling symptoms of apathy and low mood that last longer than two weeks.
The Bottom Line
Psychologists have proposed many different theories of motivation. The reality is that there are numerous different forces that guide and direct our motivations.
Understanding motivation is important in many areas of life beyond psychology, from parenting to the workplace. You may want to set the best goals and establish the right reward systems to motivate others as well as to increase your own motivation.
Knowledge of motivating factors (and how to manipulate them) is used in marketing and other aspects of industrial psychology. It’s an area where there are many myths, and everyone can benefit from knowing what works with motivation and what doesn’t.