When it comes to motivation, especially with your fitness, & wellness goals, “intrinsic motivation” can lead to life-changing improvements and long-term well-being.
Getting compliments from bosses, peers, and even strangers might get you started but long-term motivation depends on your own values and processes for achieving your goals.
When it comes to health and wellness, internal motivation involves emphasizing your current health, wellness, and happiness instead of worrying about the future. In order to be sustained, exercise and healthy habits need to be relevant to your life today. Worrying about your future health is less motivating than the tangible, post-workout feeling of “That was incredible, I feel great and can’t wait to do it tomorrow!”
This kind of current, internal drive might not come naturally to all of us, but the good news is it can be learned and over time, it can be perfected.
As we’ve all experienced, many people who don’t work out regularly can rattle off a list of reasons why they’re not motivated to exercise, from not understanding the benefits to thoughts like “No time,” “I’m embarrassed by how I look,” “I get bored at gyms,” “I have no idea what to do,” and so on.
Those that hold these self-sabotaging beliefs often believe exercise doesn’t matter. And, really, who would be inspired to start a physical activity with negative thoughts like that running through your head all the time? On the other hand, when you believe in the value of wellness and exercise, it’s easier to build and maintain motivation to do it.
Check Out These Four Simple Strategies To Build Motivation
In my experience, I’ve learned there are four strategies people can use to create intrinsic, sustainable motivation: Self-Efficacy, FIT/Rational Thinking, SMARTER Goals, and Commitment Contracts.
- Set SMARTER Goals – We can eliminate inconsistency from our health and wellness plans by making goals that are SMARTER (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely, developed Enthusiastically, and attached to Rewards). Waking up in the morning and thinking, “I’m going to work out today,” is less effective than coming up with a specific and actionable plan (“I’m going to take the DEFINE body class at 8:30am with Ashley). SMARTER goals take the guesswork out of our health and wellness routines, so we’re more likely to stick to them.
- Develop Fundamentally Independent Thinking (FIT)/Rational Thinking – A fundamentally independent thinker understands that no action specifically makes a person upset, defeated, or determines how they feel. But people aren’t necessarily born FIT thinkers. Instead, we have to learn to be rational even in the face of negative beliefs. Internal negative messages can act as obstacles to motivation and emotional reasoning can make you feel something where you automatically assume it must be fact (“I feel like a loser, so I must be one”). If a thought makes you feel bad or consider abandoning your healthy lifestyle, then you might want to stop thinking it! Build more positivity in your thinking, many of us remember the famous skit on SNL with Stuart Smalley and his Daily Affirmations!
- Build Self-Efficacy – A person with high self-efficacy believes in their ability to perform a task and achieve goals. These beliefs are the strongest and most consistent predictors of exercise behavior. The greater a person’s self-efficacy, the more likely they are to stick with an exercise program and make it a habit for life. There are two great ways that you can build self-efficacy:
- Ensure early success. When first starting out, choose activities you’re certain you can do successfully. If new to fitness classes, start with one specific class that you are interested in and can focus on. Start small—say, by adding more of those specific class to your schedule, perfecting your performance, and increasing your own intensity. An example might be starting out with a rev class, increasing intensity over time, and building confidence in your performance. Once you feel like an expert, switch it up and add a body or bounce class!
- Find a supportive voice. DEFINE Instructors are skilled in giving appropriate encouragement and guiding you to help you reach your goals, all while having fun and being in the moment! It also helps when you have your friends’ and family support.
- Enter Into Commitment Contracts – It can be particularly difficult to sustain nutrition or regular class routines around the holidays or during busy periods of our lives. The idea is to build a “commitment contract,” which you commit to a behavioral change and then establishes a “contract” (possibly with a partner or a friend, and, of course, yourself) whereby some consequence results from failing to achieve your goal. Say that you and your friend commit to taking a bounce class on Tuesday and Thursdays at 5:30pm, if one of you misses the class, then you have to pay for dinner (healthy of course) after your next class. The idea is that you want to avoid the consequence and that helps keep you more committed to your success.
So in closing, it’s clear that without intrinsic motivation, it’s difficult —if not impossible—to develop sustainable motivation. By believing in yourself, thinking rationally, setting SMARTER goals, and using commitment contracts, you’ll be on the right path to build enough motivation to be your ABSOLUTE BEST and build long-term success.
Troy A. Wise