Needs & Wants

July 22, 2018

Sherrie Hebert

Your 30-year class reunion is coming up and you want to impress your classmates by returning to your high school athletic physique. Your wedding is three months away and you only need to lose 10 pounds to get into your dream wedding dress. Or you want to look as good as or better than on your wedding day. All are excellent motivators to begin your exercise program.

Or are they?

Motivation will get you heading in the right direction with your new exercise program, but the source of your motivation is more important. “Self-Determination Theory” is often used to explain the motivations to begin a new activity and describes three types of motivation (Deci and Ryan, 2000).

The first is “amotivation” where there is no motivation in beginning a new activity, such as an exercise program. The amotivated person sees no value in the program and thus will not begin one. An example of an amotivation would be one who sees exercise as a waste of time and produces nothing worthwhile.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is “intrinsic motivation.” Intrinsic motivation is a desire to perform an activity because it is enjoyable or to take their performance to another level. For example, if someone has a goal to advance from a 5K race to a 10K, they are challenging themselves rather than someone else. Intrinsically motivated people have deep, long-term desires to accomplish their goals and often continue to go beyond.

The third type is “extrinsic motivation,” which derives from external rewards. This is the reunion or wedding dress reasons to get in better shape, where one is doing an activity for someone else or what they believe is the right reason. Those who are extrinsically motivated often give up before the goal has been reached or quit as soon as the reward is received. Once the reunion is past, the need is gone.

Extrinsic motivation can also be a reason to avoid punishment. If your doctor says you should lose weight to avoid health problems, you will do it so on your next visit you receive kudos rather than a “talking to.” Kids often drive themselves to get the grades their parents desire to avoid letting them down. Once the grade is achieved and the class done, so is their desire.

Doing something because it makes you feel better about yourself is not such a bad idea and is a bit less extrinsically motivated. However, even though you are “improving” yourself, you still feel the need to make the change. For example, if you want to get in better shape you will likely just feel satisfied and either keep plugging along or just quit.

So how can you move from an extrinsic motivation to intrinsic where your need is now a want and a desire that is unique only to you?

To make the shift, take note of what you enjoyed in the progress toward your goal. On those days when you had had enough and were ready to give up but powered through, you earned a win and it felt good. Or on those days where you didn’t measure up to your expectations, you forgave yourself rather than criticized. When you found yourself enjoying the moment, why was that? Was it the time of day because you are a morning person and feel sluggish in the afternoon? Were you working with someone who drove you to be better and gave you the extra push to finish? Did someone inspire you with their journey?

Did you notice above how it was an extrinsic motivation that became an intrinsic one? Your need for an external reward gave you the oomph that eventually led you to your internal desire and wanting to continue beyond where you thought you would finish.

Your need may not be what you want, but eventually your need can become your want and that is just what you need.

Sherrie Hebert is a certified personal trainer and Pilates mat and equipment Instructor. She teaches and trains at Performance Pilates and Gold’s Gym of Pocatello. As an established Idaho State Journal columnist, Sherrie has provided health and fitness information and guidance to her readers for nearly four years.

Contact her at 208-317-5685 or sherriehebert@gmail.com and visit her Facebook page, Performance Pilates & and Personal Training.

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