Motivation of the Best Kind

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People often ask me how to stay motivated to keep on training or to keep working hard especially when results are not immediate.

Why do I keep on running 20 or 30+ km on weekends when watching TV at home or partying is so much easier?

The answer is in not only establishing priorities, but also in being motivated for a deep-rooted reason.

Running and fitness are very important to me personally and therefore I’m motivated to do it.

There are 2 types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation is when the reason for doing something is external to the person doing it. This type of motivation is based on doing something because there is either a reward for doing it or a punishment for not doing it.

Extrinsic motivation can also mean “doing something for other people”. For example, some people want to lose weight so that members of the opposite sex will find them more attractive or they want to make more money in order to prove they can do better than their peers.

It can also sometimes be developed out of jealousy towards someone who appears to be receiving positive social feedback as a result of doing a certain activity. Additionally, it’s used as a way to “prove yourself to other people.”

On the other hand, intrinsic motivation is different. In this case, a person’s motivation for doing something comes from the inside. The intrinsically-motivated person’s actions are guided by a deep-rooted desire to do a certain activity because they enjoy it and are passionate about it.

The road is long…so it’s best to enjoy every inch of it! Photo by IMS FotoGrafix

What other people think of the intrinsically-motivated person and his/her chosen activity is not important to him/her.

Quite often, extrinsic motivation can develop into intrinsic motivation as is the case with fitness.

Admittedly, when I first started running in junior high school, I was extrinsically motivated. I didn’t love running, but I loved getting medals and recognition as well as proving to my classmates that I was an athlete. I feel like most teenagers are extrinsically motivated and thus are influenced by the opinions of their peers.

However, my injury after high school changed me. I became intrinsically motivated because I fell madly in love with running and fitness in general. Ultimately, I found MUCH more satisfaction in running and working out when I knew I was doing it for me because I loved it. I genuinely enjoy training and tracking my own progress.

Although I still get competitive, neither winning nor losing alters my perception of running.

When it comes to sticking to an activity long enough to see progress, I believe that intrinsic motivation is the key. Often times, the people who are extrinsically motivated expect results too quickly but don’t often have the stick-to-it-ness to actually get to see those results.

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Sometimes, it’s an uphill battle with a curve in the road, but you can make it to the top if you keep on going because you LOVE it! Photo by IMS FotoGrafix

Additionally, some people who start out extrinsically motivated end up developing intrinsic motivation when they become inspired to enjoy the process rather than look for the reward or “destination”.

This is why my approach to training clients is slightly different. I ask a lot of questions in the beginning because I want to find out how to best keep them on track and motivated long enough to see results. When training clients, I help them find things they enjoy doing and encourage them to love and trust the process.

Those who learn to love and trust the process as well as those who enjoy the activity that they are doing are most likely to stick to it, which leaves them with no other option than to see the results they are after.

Therefore, when it comes to fitness, it’s important to find a way to move your body in a way that you enjoy.

Love what you do and the results will follow.

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