Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation

How to make long term changes!

It’s that time of year where you’re re-thinking your health, career and personal goals. But let’s be honest, what’s really at the top of your resolution list is “I need to lose this festive weight”! So you start off focused and strong, then suddenly you burn out by early February…sound familiar?

Why does this burn out happen and how can you avoid it? One reason for a quick burn out is most people focus too much on extrinsic goals, which are external visual results such as losing weight in order to look better. This extrinsic focus serves a purpose as it’s normally the initial motivator that gets you going. They are also easier to track and see progression as they are visual results. However as soon as you feel you’re not getting the visual results fast enough or the effort is too much, you lose your drive and focus. To avoid this from happening you should also have some intrinsic goals, which are internal results such as a healthier heart or releasing stress. When your extrinsic motivators lose their power these intrinsic goals & motivators will kick in and lead to long term healthy changes. For example, I have a client who is a new father. He has made it clear he wants to lose weight for himself but also so he can be fitter for his baby daughter. Every time he starts to care less about his extrinsic motivation (the way he looks) I remind him of his intrinsic motivation (his beautiful baby girl), this trick never fails as he picks up his pace immediately. Another example is a professional athlete, some athletes extrinsic motivators are fame or money, but the athletes who just truly love their game are the ones that will be around the longest and will be the happiest.

Extrinsic and intrinsic goals both serve a purpose, however intrinsic goals are sometimes easier to forget as they are not visual. For example with my client I had to remind him of his intrinsic motivator, but as soon as I did, there was no dispute how important this motivator was. So I suggest keeping reminders on your phone or pictures of your intrinsic goals in order to keep them current in your memory. Taking the time to find both will assist in making your healthy changes a lifestyle and not an one hit January wonder!

Rachel Rivers, Ride Republic Fitness Director, NLP Practitioner, Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor

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