Mastering Motivation

When it comes to motivation, most of us find it easy to maintain at the beginning, but then we lose steam. Especially when it comes to new year’s resolutions or new goals in general. So let’s chat today about how to master your motivation and keep it around for the long haul. In order to figure out how to keep motivation around, we first have to know what it really is. Motivation is defined as the reason you have for acting or behaving a certain way, and also just your general willingness or desire to do something. There are two main types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic is your inner motivation, that comes from your values and the rewards you get from it are good feelings such as joy, pride, and a sense of accomplishment. This is a powerful form of motivation, but if you somehow feel inadequate or not worthy of that sense of achievement, guess what? You’ll struggle to stay motivated because of that low deserve level. The second kind of motivation, extrinsic, is-you guessed it-external.

This is where the rewards come from outside of yourself, like money, prizes, recognition, and words of affirmation from other people. Now, I really have been talking so far like motivation is always positive, but that’s not the case. Have you ever heard about the carrot or the stick? Well, the carrot is the positive motivation in that scenario, and the stick is negative. For example, you are likely motivated to pay your bills on time to avoid late fees, collections, and having your electricity turned off and becoming homeless. You are certainly motivated to pay, but it’s not exactly a positive reward. You’re motivated to avoid pain, rather than for pleasure.

Many great minds have studied motivation, and so there are many theories out there. But basically what they all boil down to is this: you start with the most basic motivation, like keeping a roof over your head and food on the table, and then you work your way up. We all need our basic needs met and safety and security first, before all else. Then we can move along to more complicated matters such as those intrinsic motivators of accomplishment, pride, and happiness, feeling loved and connected, self-growth and improvement, and finally going outside ourselves in order to give back to others. What truly drives us to continue to be motivated is when a goal reaches ALL of those levels. You feel safe and secure and your basic needs are being met, then you feel like you belong to something bigger than yourself, you are
growing and you are giving back. So next time you set a goal for yourself, as the question of whether that goal hits all the points. If you set a goal to get healthy and fit, for example, make sure before you do anything else that you have a roof over your head and can put food on the table in a safe environment. Okay, check. Now, how can you feel like you belong to something bigger than yourself, and get some external motivation? Well, how about joining a gym and going to fitness classes, or joining a healthy eating program where you have a community of support? And how can you feel like you are growing and improving? Perhaps you could learn more about nutrition and fitness and put those things into action in your life. And how can you give back? Well, perhaps you have an accountability partner that not only supports you, but you support and encourage her as well. All the boxes are now checked!

Taking a well-rounded approach to putting together an action plan for achieving your goals, will help you to stay motivated more long term. You will get out of bed with a plan and a purpose, have others that count on you as much as you count on them, and you will get that internal satisfaction of feeling good about yourself while seeing the outer rewards as well. And that will make sure your motivation sticks around well past the tipping point where most people give up and go back to their same old habits. You will be creating new habits, and a new and more evolved you. Happy goal getting!


If you’d like to explore further what having the support of a mental wellness coach looks like, let’s talk.