Motivation: that elusive force that has the power to transform our entire lives when we have enough of it … or leave us at the edge of a plateau when we’re lacking it.
And unfortunately for many of us, motivation is a touch and go experience. Some days we have a lot, while other times we can’t find the push to get to the gym.
Why is that? And, better yet, what can be done about it?
Well, it turns out there is a secret regarding motivation: there are actually two different types, and if you’re using the wrong type for yourself, you’re going to always feel like you’re lacking it.
Let’s dive in.
Types of Motivation
In general, there are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Within these two types are various subcategories, but we’ll get into that in a moment.
Intrinsic motivation is essentially internal motivation. An example of this is someone who completes a fitness challenge because he or she internally desires to: there is not outer motivator.
Extrinsic motivation is motivation received from an external source. An example of this is someone who completes a fitness challenge in order to, say, win a bet, or to win one of the challenge prizes. The motivation is something external.
Neither type of motivation is right or wrong, it’s simply a difference in what pushes each of us! I want to get a little deeper into these though since they are a little general, and get more specific to what type of motivation applies to fitness.
Why? Because think about it: being fit and healthy is a lifestyle. Even if you’re motivated internally, there will be plenty of days you won’t feel like working out. And, if you’re externally motivated, you won’t have an external pressure or challenge every day of your life to keep you going.
As such, let’s dive in to positive and negative emotion.
Are You Positively Or Negatively Motivated?
Over the years I’ve found that discovering whether you’re positively motivated vs. negatively motivated is one of the best ways to help yourself get and stay motivated.
Now, these are different than what you may be thinking. To be “negatively” motivated doesn’t mean that you’re motivated by negativity, but simply that things that exert a pressure on you are more likely to motivate you. For instance, you may be ultra-motivated in a competition, where another person could “beat” you. Or, you may be motivated to eat healthier due to, say, diabetes running in your family.
For a negatively-motivated person, affirmations and positive self-talk, or positive talk from others, is not likely to light their fire.
For a positively-motivated person, however, affirmations and praise are their bread and butter – they need that positivity to push forward.
As you can see, these two types of motivation are very different, and if you’re struggling with motivation, it may just be that you’re trying to make the wrong type of motivation work for you.
For example, perhaps you’re in a group fitness situation (at your gym or otherwise) and everything is oriented around praise and cheering each other on. This is epic and awesome, but if you’re negatively motivated, it may not light that spark. To get yourself into gear, you may want to consider forming a challenge within the group, or a competition of some sort, and if you lose, you have to part with a few bucks!
On the flip side, if you’re positively motivated and are surrounded by negative pressure such as heavy competition with threat of loss, you may not thrive. Consider changing your environment to incorporate more collaboration, and be sure to listen to motivational podcasts, etc …
Changing what you’re doing to motivate yourself, plus switching up your environment to support your motivation type can be the game changer you need to actually stay motivated for the long haul.
The same goes for things like diet. If you’re negatively motivated, you might want to focus on the dangers of continuing to eat a bad diet, vs. focusing on the benefits of healthy foods. And on the flip side, if you’re positively motivated, focus on all of the benefits you’ll gain from eating healthy.
How To Know Your Motivation Type
The key with knowing whether you’re positively or negatively motivated is observation. This may take a couple weeks, but you need to truly observe what lights a fire under you and what doesn’t. What gets you out of bed in the morning: is it encouragement or competition?
Remember, neither type is wrong. Many people will have you believe motivation is one-size-fits-all, and that encouragement is all you need, when in fact, you may need something competitive to light you up.
Watch yourself and structure your motivation as needed!