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  • Writer's pictureLisa Magnuson

What Motivates You?

This time of year there is a lot of buzz and talk about goals and resolutions. But the more important factor is motivation. How do you stay motivated? What keeps you working toward achieving your goals?

Motivation can come in several forms; the two most common forms are extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Here are the definitions of both.

"Extrinsic motivation involves completing a task or exhibiting a behavior because of outside causes such as avoiding punishment or receiving a reward. The main difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is that intrinsic motivation comes from within, and extrinsic motivation comes from outside."

"Intrinsic motivation is defined as the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfaction rather than for some separable consequence. When intrinsically motivated, a person is moved to act for the fun or challenge entailed rather than because of external products, pressures, or rewards."

In some cases, we rely on both types of motivation to meet our goals. For example, if you have a work project you need to finish you could be extrinsically motivated to finish to meet your team's timeline (and keep your job) and intrinsically motivated because you enjoy the project and take satisfaction in completing work well and ontime.

When Anya was very young, I took her to a co-op preschool run through Bellevue College where we had parent classes about how to raise your kids. It was a great program and I learned an amazing amount about what motivated children and how to try to get them to be decent humans as they grow. We spent A LOT of time on intrinsic motivation and getting kids to tap into that instead of external praise and rewards.

Just as a quick example, let's say Anya is 2 years old and shares a toy with another toddler who desperately wants to play with that same toy. Instead of saying, "wow Anya, I'm so proud of you for sharing with your friend", we are supposed to say "how did that make you feel to share with Tina?" That is how you get kids to stop reaching for parent/teacher/adult praise and look into themselves for why what they did and how it made them feel good/happy/proud.

The reason I'm writing about this is because the basis behind our motivation is super important. If you are hoping Myles will praise you when you do something well, (don't hold your breath) but it's not because he isn't proud of you; it's just that he wants you to value it yourself. "How did that make you feel?" and "how is that working for you?" are two classic questions he will ask to get you to dip into your own intrinsic motivation.

If you have goals for the new year, or for the next month, or even for your next training session, please share them with us and let us help you tap into your intrinsic motivation to help drive you toward your goal in a more enjoyable way. Motivation is all about finding something exciting and looking forward to it, if you don't, then that goal is never going to be within reach. Trying to accomplish a goal to avoid a punishment or for external reward (extrinsic) is not nearly as easy or satisfying as if you are motivated from within to keep plugging away at the daily habits to reach the goal.

So if you have a goal right now, ask yourself how intrinsically motivated am I to achieve this goal? Spend some time thinking about how it would feel to get there and what you can do to keep after it when excitement wanes and life starts getting a little hard. Write down how you will feel when you reach the goal and post those words somewhere where you can read them everytime it starts feeling out of reach, or natural laziness sets in.

Lastly, it's Myles's 43rd birthday tomorrow (January 19th), so if you train with him on Wednesday please embarrass him by making a big deal out of his birthday. He hates that stuff! :)

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