Motivation: How Can I Find It?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
How can I get motivated?

How do I stay motivated?

Will someone please motivate me to exercise?

These are all questions that I have seen a lot of members ask on the SparkPeople message boards recently. Motivation seems to be hard to come by some days, while other days it seems much easier. Why is that? Well, something that I have experienced that may help with the “problem” of finding and keeping motivation to stick with your health goals (and any other goals you may have set), is to find the motivation and power from within yourself.

While having external motivators, such as preparing for a big event, fitting into your swimsuit just in time for summer or fitting into a particular outfit for that special event, can be helpful in the short-term, it may not help you in the long-term. What happens to your motivation once that event comes and goes? Your motivation to keep going after an external motivator is over may cause you to lose your desire to move forward, therefore, you may be more likely to lose your motivation and fall back into some older, less healthy habits. That is unless you have some other form of motivation from within yourself.

This is not to say that external motivators don’t help – they can be very helpful, but they may not last beyond the event to help  keep you motivated. So how do you find that motivation from within? That  answer lies within you. I know, that’s not what you want to hear, but each person has a different motivating factor, so there is not an answer that applies to everyone. Finding your inner Spark can help you find that motivation to get you going and keep  you going--whether it is a want/need to be healthier overall, get fit/be in better shape, feel better in general or reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc – those are all great internal motivators. Because these goals do not have a timeline, you are more likely to want to continue to maintain them well beyond the time it took for you to achieve them. So think about what internal motivators you might have and write those down and keep them in mind as you move along in your health journey.

Does it all have to be internal motivators to help you continue? No – sprinkle in some external factors and you will have that extra push for motivation and I’m sure you will always have a great combination of motivation factors that you are able to give yourself. While you’re at it, add a reward system for both the small and big goals that you meet. With that recipe of internal and external motivators, you are set up for a very good motivation system that will allow you to meet many goals and help you find many successes in your life.

 According to a recent study researchers have found that motivation to stick to an active lifestyle will change throughout the week based on the demands that the individual has going on in her life - (work, family, school, etc.). Does this sound familiar to you? I know it does for me! The study also showed that people with consistently strong intentions of being active/exercising were more likely to follow through with their intentions of exercising, whereas those who had more fluctuations in their motivation were less likely to follow through. 

After reading this study I am even more convinced that we need to find stronger motivations from within ourselves so that we are less likely to have those fluctuations of being motivated and not being motivated. Having the internal motivation will give us more power to reach our goals, while having the external motivators will help add fun and extra motivation as well.

Do you have both internal and external motivation? What motivates you the most? What tips do you have to offer other members that may be struggling with getting/staying motivated?

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TERRI1458 4/13/2020
I have to stay motivated or my diabetes will get the best of me. I could just let my blood sugar get out of control but I tried that and I don’t like it. Great article for me so I can review the things I already know. Report
RYCGIRL 3/11/2020
thx Report
NASFKAB 3/9/2020
Yes Report
FISHGUT3 3/2/2020
thanks Report
I have been able to stick with a low-carb low sugar diet thanks to taking 10 minutes a day, every morning to visit SparkPeople. The rest of my day is based in large part on that. Report
looking back on where you have come from really helps Report
Absolutely great Report
I have motivation inside and out. If I don't do it, who will?!?!?! It's so much better afterwards. The results are worth it. Thanx for the article! Report
my high family history of strokes is my motivation. Liking my new body is also my motivation. Report
This is a very good article!!!! Report
Keep on keeping on no matter what obstacles come your way. Report
I am a FIRM believer motivation ONLY lies within each individual person. I wish I could figure out what did it for me and bottle it up to give it to those who struggle... Report
Motivation is really hard for me. I'm one of those people who like for someone to notice my good work and give me praise for it. But when I get it, I'm not sure if they are really meaning what they say or saying it just to be nice. Over my 49 years I have tried all types of diets, workouts, and motivational ideas. I start loosing then I reach a standstill. This is when I start loosing my motivation and end up quitting. Then I gain back what I lost, plus extra, yo-yo effect.
I have just started Sparkpeople and I have decided to stay motivated with these words inside and out; I'm not as good as I want to be, but I'm better than what I use to be. I will admit I slip, but I don't look at it as a failure, I see it as an oops and I continue on the right way. Report
I stay with my favorite quote "If you don't like starting over, then don't quit." Report
The comment in the article that external motivation is very short lived; "This is not to say that external motivators don’t help – they can be very helpful, but they may not last beyond the event to help keep you motivated. So how do you find that motivation from within? That answer lies within you. I know, that’s not what you want to hear, but each person has a different motivating factor, so there is not an answer that applies to everyone. If we don't motivate ourselves with self talk and persistence no one will. How we do it is up to us.
I, often enough, fail to think about motivation at all. I don't approach exercise with "Am I feeling like it?"

It's like getting to work. I can hate my job, know I'll be overwhelmed with tasks all day, but come that time of the morning Monday to Friday, I'm out of bed, clothes on, and out the door. I'd have to be contagious sick or incapable of getting things done sick to stay home. In fact, I don't even think about skipping work UNLESS I'm feeling bad, and even then I'm thinking about whether I can substitute anything or get anything done in my condition.

Why would I treat my body and a healthy life as any less mandatory?

If I think about motivation at all, it's the little rewards already achieved that keep me excited. I love sitting at a weight machine and doing my reps with greater ease than the last workout, or being able to (having to) up the resistance on the bike or elliptical to keep my heart rate in the right range. That right there is the constant internal motivation - what keeps me going.

But what gets me there in the first place is ditching the idea I need to have the motivation first and just deciding there is no other option than to do what needs to be done. Report
I enjoyed your article. I'm approaching my second year on this site and I'm having a difficult time staying motivated. I'm one of those people who are constantly looking for someone to say something or maybe I'll read something to get that motivation going. Believe it or not this week I told myself that I must get back to the place where I first began and take a good look at all the reasons for losing the 70lbs that I have lost. I have fifteen more pounds to lose and after reading your article I think I really need to sit down and do some serious introspection. Report
This has all really touched base with me, as my external motivators are a lot like those posted! I would love to have a motivator as noble as losing weight for my health, but I'm not driven by that too much right now. The external motivators are my main source of inspiration at this point but that doesn't always do the trick. A visit to the doctor could be a way to brainstorm some ideas... Report
Motivation is a tricky thing. It's great to have, but hardly something to depend on if one wants to keep the weight off for life. After all, if we *should* depend solely on motivation rather than ourselves, wouldn't the power and freedom to Choose be a non-existent theory?

I think what really need to understand is that it's about Choice. We Choose to get up work out - no one can do it for us, not even those vibrating dumbbells and chairs! We Choose to eat healthier - no one force feeds us unhealthy meals. We Choose to move on when we experience setbacks - it's no one's lesson and memory of the event but ours. And when we decide to fit that chocolate chip cookie into our diet, we Choose to eat it and not feel guilty.

To help me, I use these quotes every time to get my sleepy butt out of bed at 4:45 am to workout, say no to fattening foods, and be positive in general on my journey in healthy living:

"MOTIVATION is what gets you started. HABIT is what keeps you going."

"DISCIPLINE means doing what needs to be done, even when you don't want to."

"I have never regretted going out for a run, but I have always regretted the time I could have run but I didn't."

"My body deserves respect. It deserves care."

"You've gotta work for it, so stop wishing and start doing."

"It's about time I become the best me I can be."

"Today is another chance to make myself proud!" Report
My internal motivation is kind of funny. I have lost 42 pounds to date and still have about 50 to go. But I am one of those guys who carry his weight well so I have been getting a lot of compliments about my weight loss with quite a few people (women) trying to derail me by saying I don't need to lose any more! What helps me to not let those compliments go to my head and derail my efforts is my secret motivation of looking great in the mirror naked! Every morning I wake up and see myself in mirror I realize I have a long way to go. And when I reach my goal, my motivation will be to remain good looking naked. So although I may look good in clothes, seeing myself in the mirror every morning keeps me humble. Report
I have both internal and external motivations... I desire to be whole (body, mind and soul) which is a motivation to work on my body... I only have one so why not take care of it :). My external factors are my future with my family, being able to enjoy moving around...and not be out of breath lol and to pass on health to my children.
I think the best way to stay motivated is to have small goals, accomplish them, and create new ones... keep going and move through just like the rain storm last when bad days come or circumstances out of our control... realize those too shall pass.... Report
For me It's more about structuring my life so that I can get into a groove. When I'm locked into a reasonable set of habits things seem to happen without needing to call on extra reserves of motivation, etc. The motivation really only seems to be needed l when I fall off the wagon and need to get back on, or hit some kind of setback.

Once I've got the habit of going to exercise classes 4 nights a week, my car just seems to drive there on its own.

Similarly with food, consistent behavior seems to breed more consistent behavior. So I try to eat at similar times per day, similar macronutrient ratios, similar kinds of foods, etc. for my "normal" routine.
I need motivation and some pushing to stay focused to get things moving-my body. I just keep telling myself, to just keep trying. Report
My internal motivators are all to do with health. I have a heart history with atrial fibrillation and when tested was shown to have poor lung capacity. I can get winded with little effort. Exercise does help and I am finding I have more stamina since I have been more active and doing regular exercise (especially walking) since I signed up with SP in September of 2011.

My external motivators are based on how I look and feel in my clothes. The real improvement that I have made (2.5 inches lost from my waist) really shows up on the scale and in how my clothes are fitting. I am currently going through my closet and my favourite little summer dress fits wonderfully again where last summer it did not. This helps motivate me to stay with the program and I know I will see further improvement.

It has been a slow and gradual process but I have lost 18 lbs in 5 and a half months and significant inches off my waist and hips. I love Nicole's attitude and realistic approach to exercise and weight loss. This (ME) is a work in progress and well worth striving for! Report
My internal motivators mainly deal with my health. I'm afraid of those illnesses and diseases that are attributed to obesity--diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease...That is why I decided at the end of last year that I was going to get fit this year. My 41st birthday is going to be my best yet...It will rival my 21st!

My external motivators play to my vanity. I want to be the fit and sexy woman I visualize in my head...the one in the nicely fitting jeans...or the slinky black dress. I especially want a certain someone to see me looking FINE and get whiplash doing a double take! LOL!

All-in-all, my motivators have served me well since I've been actively trying to get fitter/healthier/sexier. I'm not sure what my advice would be for others who need to find some motivation. It seems like it's such a personal, individual thing. My motives may not move someone else to get up and exercise...and other people's motives would not likely move me. Report
It's been a little over two years since I found my new lifestyle.......I have been bouncing around close to my goal weight for the last year and find motivation more difficult to keep all the time. My motivation right now is not buying larger clothes.......I got rid of all of my "fat" clothes a year ago so as soon at my jeans get a little tight I know I have to be more careful. I want to find better motivation again so I can stop bouncing up and down by 5 or 10 pounds and have my weight be steady. Report