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What motivates you?

Runners legs at the start of a race.

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Working out what really motivates you to change can be key to making that change happen. Find out why you want to change and you’ll be off to a great start. 

This is really all about YOU! Everybody’s reason for change – our motivation, or our ‘why’ – is unique. Two people might want to run a marathon but for completely different reasons. One, to raise as much money as possible for their favourite charity, the other to tick a lifelong fitness dream off their bucket list. Keeping in mind your why, or what motivates you, can help you succeed in achieving your aims and dreams. 

Intrinsic or extrinsic motivation? 

Sometimes outside factors motivate us. This is known as extrinsic motivation. It might be that you’re motivated to complete a task to earn money or approval from your mates or family. Ever run for a bus so you’re not late for work and in trouble with your boss? Or eaten that brussel sprout on your plate to keep your grandma happy? This is extrinsic motivation at play. It can be useful in certain situations but it probably won’t lead to long term change. So what will? 

Intrinsic motivation will! Intrinsic motivation is engaging in something for our own internal reasons. It might be because it’s rewarding or makes us feel positive emotions like joy, achievement or success. We’re much more likely to stick with change if we’re doing something we like or want to do for ourselves. 

‘Towards’ or ‘away’ motivation? 

As well as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation our motivation also falls into two other categories, Towards and Away

Towards motivation is where we work to achieve something because of what we’ll gain when we get there. If our motivation is ‘Towards’ we’ll be looking for the positives and focused on what we like and what we want, as well as solutions. We’ll be excited about where we want to be. 

Away motivation is the opposite, doing something because we want to avoid or move away from where we’re at. We’ll be thinking about what we don’t like and don’t want, as well as what the risks or ‘problems’ are. Away motivation can often sound more like a complaint. 

‘Towards’ motivations are much longer lasting, once we achieve our ambition we’ll notice the benefits we’ve gained so are more likely to continue what got us there. Away motivations are often short lived, once we are away from what we were avoiding we’re less likely to continue the behaviour because the threat or fear will have disappeared. 

If you want to make changes to improve your health, or help you lose weight, start by finding things to do that you’ll enjoy so you’ll feel motivated to do them again and again. Find healthy foods that you love the taste of or work out what physical activity makes you feel good. Discovering what motivates you will supercharge your chances of success. 

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