Lifestyle changes have to come from individual

Dialing up your motivation

Let’s talk about motivation for a moment. We’ve all had it, lost it, found it, and often feel we need more of it. According to Merriam Webster, motivation is defined as the act or process of motivating; a motivating force, stimulus, or influence. Synonyms include “incentive” and “drive.”

What motivates you? It seems that WHERE motivation comes from impacts its strength. If motivation comes from someone, or something, influencing your behavior, it is called extrinsic motivation. Think grades, money, or other rewards.

When motivation comes from within the person, it is intrinsic motivation. Being intrinsically motivated means you want to do it, you have consciously decided to do it for yourself and your own reasons, and doing it becomes its own reward.

Which is the more powerful of the two, intrinsic or extrinsic motivation? Experts (and your own experience) will tell you that the answer is intrinsic motivation: that which comes from within. Fueled by your own desire and decision to complete a behavior, you do it simply just to do it: this is the reward.

How do you feel when someone is telling you to do something? It is basic human nature to not want to do what someone is telling you to do. There may be positive reinforcements or rewards, but what happens when that reward is no longer available? How motivated are you to continue? Extrinsic motivators may help you in the earlier stages of changing behaviors, but for those changes to really stick, let’s explore intrinsic motivation.

When the desire to change hits you, it might help to find the deepest internal “why” to fuel your motivation. Ask yourself: Why do I want to do this? Why is it really important to me?

For example, a surface goal may be: “I want to lose weight.” An extrinsic motivator might be winning a weight-loss contest at work, but when the contest is over, you’d better have found your intrinsic motivation or the weight will creep back on. Keep asking yourself, “why?” Why do you want to lose weight? Maybe it’s so your clothes fit better, you feel physically better, or you feel better mentally. These are some important reasons, but keep digging to identify that deepest motivation.

Why do you want to have better fitting clothes and feel better physically and/or mentally? Ultimately, maybe you identify that you want to be confident and accepting of yourself in your own skin, to live a healthy lifestyle so that you can spend as much time as possible with family and friends and enjoy this thing called life to the max!

Whatever changes in your life you’d like to make, September is a great time to do it. Dig deep, find your “why,” and notice how good it feels to be reaching your goals.

CHQ 250 is an initiative of the Chautauqua Health Action Team (CHAT), encouraging you to take action to be one of at least 250 strokes, heart attacks, or related deaths prevented in Chautauqua County in the coming year. This column is written by CHAT members to share information to help you to do your part to live a life free of stroke or heart disease; it is not intended to replace advice provided by your healthcare team. Please direct questions or comments to: activecounty@co.chautauqua.ny.us.

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