By Kate Bennett, PsyD
Motivation: The condition of being eager to act or work, a force or influence that creates action
Merriam Webster Online Dictionary
Between the Broncos AFC championship win and the unseasonably warm weather in Colorado, the past week created a natural platform for inspiration and excitement. Whether the positive energy led to purchasing plane tickets to NY for the Superbowl, eagerness to focus on the upcoming season, or courage for personal change, this is an opportune time to explore what inspires you as well as identify ways of enhancing your motivation.
Let’s start with the two types of motivation: Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Referring to the definition at the top of this post, the first description reflects intrinsic motivation: An internal force, need, or desire motivates action. The latter description defines extrinsic motivation: An external force, expectation, or situation motivates action. Progress and achievement result from a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. To be truly successful (derive happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment from your achievements), the primary desire to act must come from within. While extrinsic motivation may enhance an outcome, it will inevitably fall flat if you do not feel personally committed to the identified goal.
Take a moment to reflect on your personal and athletic goals. As you think about those goals, which ones are internally driven? Do you have goals that are externally motivated? How do external factors support and/or interfere with your values and ambitions?
Motivation is a key component for thriving in life and sport: It is important to know what inspires or excites you. Feeling unmotivated may be indicative of an imbalance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Take a moment to ensure that your goals reflect individual values, needs, and desires. Once you feel personally invested in those goals, identify extrinsic sources of motivation that will enhance your efforts. For example, on a snowy winter day you may feel more (extrinsically) motivated by training with others. If nobody is available to train, select music that excites you or visualize yourself achieving your goals during the workout (intrinsic motivation). Progress and achievement result from intrinsically inspired goals enhanced by extrinsic factors. Know your motivators to gain a mental edge and increase your chances of success this season.