Psychology of MovementImproving the quality of your motivation
When it comes to making positive changes to our lifestyle, understanding what motivates us is important. Often people talk about whether they feel motivated or not motivated and how often they feel motivated. This refers to the quantity of motivation. Some days you may have a high quantity of motivation and other days it is lower.
However, beyond the quantity of motivation, it’s helpful to consider the quality of your motivation. i.e. your sustained, positive and healthy engagement in your health goals.
Values feed intrinsic motivation
Researchers have outlined different types of motivation - ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’ motivation. Amotivation occurs when individuals have neither intrinsic or extrinsic motivation towards a task and demonstrate a lack of intention to act.
Intrinsic motivation is characterised by the enjoyment of the process of a task. Whether that be the feelings experienced during the task or the knowledge of progress being made throughout it. Intrinsic motivation stems from the desire to improve and challenge yourself and gaining personal mastery over a task.
Extrinsic motivation is when you are motivated to do a task for an external outcome or reward you expect to receive. For example gaining social approval.
Here’s the key part: research shows intrinsic motivation is a much more potent form of motivation than extrinsic motivation.
Coming back to values, one of the reasons they are so effective in supporting behaviour change is because they feed intrinsic motivation. They tap into what matters to us and who we want to be as a person.
Intrinsic motivation is a higher quality motivation because there are no goal posts to keep shifting. Instead you enjoy the process, relish the challenge and get a kick from seeing improvement.
Tapping into intrinsic motivation
To help you uncover your intrinsic motivation, grab a pen and paper and spend a few minutes answering these questions:
- Why does what you are doing matter to you?
- Why do you want the intended outcome? [Carry on asking yourself why until you can’t provide another answer]
- How will living by your values or achieving your goals make your life better?
- What will your journey allow you to do? What will you be able to do better once you have achieved the end result?
- These questions will help you clarify what’s really important to you (i.e. what you value) and tap into your ‘why’.
- If you can connect with the “whys” behind your activities you are more likely to increase the quality of your motivation.
Getting clear on your values also means you can identify different types of goals within your health and fitness journey. It can stop you being fixated on a single type of outcome (for example weight loss or appearance) because there are many ways you can demonstrate your values. You may realise that what you are doing matters to you for many other reasons.