Your Motivation for Habit Change
Welcome to the course! My name is John Fawkes, and I’m a fitness and self-improvement writer, fitness coach, and creator of fitness courses like “Lose 5 Pounds a Month” and “Bursting with Energy.”
You are the product of your habits, and that means all self-improvement ultimately stems from changing them. Over the next 10 days, you’ll learn how habits work in the human mind, how to build and break habits, how to maintain your motivation, and how to avoid the big mistakes that cause most people to fail at habit change.
By the end of the course, you’ll have ended one bad habit and created one good habit. More importantly, you’ll have everything you need to change any habit of your choosing in the future.
Before we jump into the nitty-gritty of habit change, we need to address motivation. In order to stay persistent in your self-improvement efforts, it’s important to have a clear idea of why you’re working on yourself and why it’s so important to you. So today, you’re going to learn about the four types of motivation.
Extrinsic motivation is so named because it is external to you. Extrinsic motivators take the form of a reward or punishment. If you go to work to make money, do your chores for fear of being berated by a housemate, or exercise because you want to get compliments on how you look, you’re acting on extrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation has two downsides. First, it only lasts as long as the external motivator is applied and you value it. Second, it can decrease intrinsic motivation.
Still, it works—after all, it’s the reason why most people go to work every day. Plus, extrinsic motivators are easy to create. There’s also a way around their downsides, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Since extrinsic motivation comes from a source outside yourself, you’ve probably guessed that intrinsic motivation comes from within. If you’re intrinsically motivated, you do something because you find it inherently satisfying. Maybe you play sports because you enjoy the challenge, or eat healthy food because you prefer the taste.
Intrinsic motivation is inherently more powerful than extrinsic motivation, but the downside is that there’s not always an obvious way to create it.
I said earlier that extrinsic motivation tends to decrease intrinsic motivation; here’s the exception: extrinsic-intrinsic motivators enhance intrinsic motivation by directly reinforcing it. For instance, you could motivate yourself to exercise by promising to buy yourself new workout clothes after a month, or agree to give up your guitar if you don’t practice with it.
Prosocial motivation comes from a desire to help others or support a cause you care about. They can be thought of as a subset of extrinsic-intrinsic motivators. For instance, you might want to get healthy for your family or work harder to create something that will benefit people. Prosocial motivators aren’t always available, but when they are, they can be very powerful.
Exercise: Find Your Motivations
Choose one goal to work on, such as building a business or losing weight. Note that this is a goal, not a habit—I’ll explain the difference in the next lesson.
Spend a few minutes thinking about why that goal is important to you. Identify at least two motivations for pursuing that goal, either motivations you already have or sources of extrinsic motivation you could create for yourself. Write down both the goal and the motivations. Throughout this course, you’ll work on building habits that support your chosen goal.
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