People are motivated by different things and in different ways; What motivates you may have zero effect on your partner, friend, or colleague—and vice versa. So, if you want to find motivation to get things done (including becoming a healthier person!), you need to know what specifically motivates you and how you’re specifically motivated.
But how, exactly, do you do that? Let’s take a look at how to identify your personal motivation style—and how to use it to improve your health and fitness:
What are the different motivation styles?
As mentioned, there are different types of motivational styles, including:
External motivation. “Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of us,” says sports and performance psychologist Dr. Haley Perlas. This means that external factors – such as external pressure or a desire for recognition, praise or acceptance – will motivate you to take action. For example, if you’re trying to start a new running routine, you might be motivated by joining a running group; Knowing that your new running buddies are waiting for you to go on your run can help motivate you to lace up your shoes and hit the pavement.
Intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, “intrinsic motivation is when one is motivated by an internal source,” Perlas says. This means that you motivate yourself to do things—for example, you are driven by things that make you happy, make you feel good, that you enjoy a challenge, or that align with your personal values.
So, if you have an inherent style and have been trying to get into the habit of running, you might be inspired by how good you feel after a morning run. It’s enough to know how good you’ll feel when your alarm goes off.
intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is similar to intrinsic motivation in that it comes from within oneself – but it is a different type of motivation. “Intrinsic motivation comes from within, but instead of acting with joy or passion, it’s with pressure to perform,” Perlas said.
This means you’re more likely to be motivated by an internal pressure to achieve your goal, as well as to avoid the guilt you’ll feel if you don’t complete it. You may have set a goal to complete a 10K by the end of the year—and the thought of not hitting that goal (and how terrible you’ll feel if you don’t) is most likely motivating you. Stick to a regular running schedule.
marked motivation. Another motivation style to look out for is identified motivation—and it’s a bit different from the others. “Identified motivation is activated when a person knows something needs to be done—but they haven’t decided to do anything about it,” Perlas says. “This powerful form…of motivation can prepare the individual to act.”
This means you may have admitted that you want to start running, but aren’t quite ready to lace up your shoes and go. Instead, you use your motivation to create a plan to become a regular runner. You can try researching possible running routes, finding the right running shoes for your feet, or looking up common running injuries and how to avoid them.
How to identify your motivational style…
If you need help identifying your personal motivation style, “the first step you should take is to think about the most challenging situation you’ve ever faced,” Perlas says.
Once you’ve identified a challenge you’ve experienced (and overcome), Perlas recommends asking yourself specific questions about how you were able to navigate that challenge, including:
- How did the situation make you feel?
- What has brought you up to how you are going to handle and resolve conflict?
- How did you overcome your conflicts?
Once you’ve thought about how you’ll overcome a big challenge, it’s time to shift gears and start thinking about your accomplishments. “Reflect on some of your most significant accomplishments,” Perlas says.
Again, Perlas recommends digging into the “how” behind your accomplishments, including:
- How were you able to achieve this?
- How were you able to meet these set goals?
- Are you motivated to tackle such a goal?
Your answers to these questions will help you identify what motivates you to overcome challenging situations and hit your goals. “You can use this knowledge to motivate you in the future while evaluating what specific motivational style works for you,” Perlas says.
…and use it to improve your health and fitness
You know different motivation styles. You know how to determine what motivates you and how you, specifically, are motivated—both to overcome challenges and achieve your goals.
So how do you use that information to improve your health and fitness?
If you have an extrinsic motivation style, try enlisting an accountability partner. Having someone else invested in your health and fitness—and checking in on your progress—can give you a boost of motivation to pursue your health and fitness goals.
For example, you might have a weekly check-in with your accountability partner to talk about how you progressed toward your health and fitness goals the previous week—and what goals you’re working toward next week. Or, you can plan to meet your partner for a workout or other healthy activity.
If you have an intrinsic motivation style, make a list of what health and wellness practices make you happiest. Try making a list of the health and wellness practices that make you feel like your healthiest, happiest self, as well as the benefits you get from these practices.
You might love the endorphin rush you get after a challenging bike ride, the zen you feel after a yoga class, or how much stronger your body feels when you include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Taking the time to write this list will remind you of all the benefits you get from your health and wellness routine—and knowing how much better you’re going to feel should give you motivation to stick to your routine.
If you have an introverted motivational style, make a list of all the negative health outcomes you want to avoid. You might want to make a different kind of list—a negative health outcome you want to avoid.
For example, your list might include items like “If I don’t stretch every day, I’ll have limited mobility and increased pain” or “If I don’t run three times a week, I won’t be ready for the half-marathon I signed up for—and I feel bad for not being able to finish the goals I set for myself.”
Focusing on the negative may not seem like fun, but if you have an introverted motivation style, reminding yourself how you’ll feel. don’You may need to take consistent steps to not hit your fitness goals or stick to your health and wellness routine
If you have an identified motivation style, start working on a health and wellness plan. Start researching health and fitness activities that might sound good to you. Do you want to start a regular strength training routine – or does training for a triathlon sound like a good challenge? Do you want to start learning how to cook healthy food choices for you and your family—or think it would be easier to enlist the help of a nutritionist or meal planner?
Once you’ve identified some changes you want to make to your health and fitness routine, start researching how you can make those changes a reality. Once your plan starts to come together, you’ll be motivated to move from there identification What changes need to be made to actually be ready to make those changes for yourself.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, changing your sleeping habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.