This is one part of our four-part series on motivation
You know you’re supposed to workout for your health, you probably know it will make you feel stronger and more energetic, and chances are you want to do it. Why, then, does it feel so impossible sometimes?
The answer lies in our fickle friend, motivation.
One type of motivation will sustain you until what you want to do becomes habitual (hooray!) while another type is so fleeting that it comes and goes before you’ve had a chance to break a sweat.
These two types are intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation refers to taking action based on some sort of external outcome. In other words, instead of doing something because it feels good to do it, people who are extrinsically motivated are performing a task solely to achieve a particular reward or outcome.
If you’re exercising to fit into an outfit for a special occasion or to get a “beach body” for summer (side note: if you have a body, you already have a beach body, but that’s for another post) then you, friend, are an extrinsically motivated exerciser.
Basically, if you’re primarily exercising to achieve a specific outcome--to hit a certain weight or make your body look a certain way—then you’re extrinsically motivated.
Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with this—if it’s getting you moving, then that’s awesome! The problem is, this type of motivation is super tough to sustain over time.
That’s because exercising solely for a particular outcome is conditioning your brain to view exercise as a means to an end rather than an ongoing journey. It becomes a chore to get out of the way rather than the daily exercise in feel-goodness it can totally be.
The good news is, there IS another way, and it’s called intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation comes from within. It refers to taking action because you find satisfaction in the act itself. Intrinsically motivated people are performing a task not as a means to an end, but because they derive pleasure and fulfillment from doing it.
If, more often than not, when you head to the gym your focus is to boost your mood and feel more fulfilled, satisfied, and energetic, then you’re an intrinsically motivated exerciser. While toning up or shedding pounds might matter to you, what matters most is the way it makes you feel.
If you’re conditioned in this way, you probably find that it doesn’t take much to get to the gym simply because you find the workout itself pleasurable for the satisfaction and fulfillment it brings.
However, if this doesn’t sound like you--don’t fret! Neither type of motivation is set in stone. There are plenty of things you can do to cultivate intrinsic motivation of your own and, ultimately, learn to enjoy the gym. For real.
Check out the other posts in our motivation series: