Motivation. That illusive thing we all need to do whatever it is we’d like to do. It could be losing weight. Going back to school to learn a new trade. Making things simpler in our daily lives. Or anything else you could possibly desire to do. So what gives us the motivation to do it?
Wikipedia’s definition of motivation is:
Motivation is a psychological feature that arouses an organism to act towards a desired goal and elicits,controls, and sustains certain goal-directed behaviors.
A “psychological feature” – meaning we have it within us to be work towards our desired goal. Sounds simple enough so why isn’t it? Because it depends on what the goal is. For example, we’re hungry. That motivates us to find food. But what motivates us when what we need motivating for is not a basic need to survive day to day?
The answer is motivation is also an inner drive to act or move in a certain direction. In other words, we are designed to be creative thinkers – that’s the easy part. The key is that we must actively MOVE in the direction we want to move in. Our minds have the drive, but we as thinkers need to follow through with that drive and move toward the goal we want. If we want to lose weight that means we must eat less and be more active. Doesn’t sound so bad when you put it that way. So the motivation to begin could be that we want to lose weight so we will add 15 minutes of activity to our day.
For me, I have found my motivation is based on realty and comes in bite size pieces. I never go out and say my motivation is to be 120 pounds. I have never weighed less than 145 – 150 so why would I think that I could weigh 120? I’m setting myself up to fail. However, I did decide that I was going to do what it takes to be healthy and chose the goal of completing my first triathlon. I told myself “I want to do a triathlon.” That first thought includes the word “want”. For me I have to WANT to do something and I have to say that WANT out loud. I did not focus on finishing the triathlon in a certain time frame – I visualized finishing. I did not think of what weight I should be to do a triathlon because that was not relevant to my goal.
I looked at the whole process from start to finish as a journey. I started competing in 5K’s on the weekends. My first 5K time was over 50 minutes. I could have been discouraged but I was elated that I just completed my first 3.11 mile race and it was moving me toward my goal of completing a triathlon. I started biking every Sunday with Coach Becky. I thought I was going to DIE the first time I did 20 miles but I didn’t die and have gotten faster as time has gone on. I used to be on the swim team as a kid so I didn’t really think about the swimming portion – just knew I would have to swim as part of the triathlon. Each triumph motivated me to the next.
We all have the motivation inside us. The difference is how important it is and how you look at your goal. Maybe you would like to lose 30 pounds. Rather than focus on that number as the end all number, think about just working on 5 pounds at a time. Or maybe you want to be able to hang with your grandchildren all day and give mom and dad a break. Instead of dreading the arrival of that day, think about how walking every day will help to boost your endurance levels and give you added health benefits to boot.
So my question today to you is what do you WANT and what are you going to do to get it?