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Motivation – internal or external?
Monique Koerner
Monique Koerner

What is motivation? It can be what drives you to maintain or achieve goals. Or, you might say it is a form of desire. It is important to know where your motivation comes from. It could be external things that motivate you or internal desires that drive you. 

External motivators are usually what you rely on when it comes to exercise. Think of a carrot and a stick. You lure yourself to exercise with the carrot  “You’ll lose weight!,” or you hit yourself with an invisible stick “You’ll get fat if you don’t exercise!” With this type of motivation, you are not exercising because you like it. Rather, it will result in what you want sometime in the future. 

Extrinsic motivation is not always bad, if it works. But what if it doesn’t give you what you want? What if you don’t have genetics to achieve a certain size or weight? What if you can’t exercise enough to get the bathing suit body you want? This is when motivation slides.

There is another type of motivation that is internal, something that is important to you now and not some future goal. Perhaps your motivation is that exercise feels good, it helps relieve stress, and as your body gets stronger you can do more than you did before. 

Identify some things that you value most in your life and think about how sitting less and moving more can contribute to those values. Some examples: “I value being a productive employee and I know that taking a daily walk helps me feel less stressed and more focused at work”; or “I value time with my grandchildren. I know that stretching, doing strengthening exercises and walking will help me be more active with them.” 

External motivators can be fleeting, but internal motivators have staying power. This week, focus on your values and what motivates you from within.

Monique Koerner is the Family and Community Wellness Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. You may reach her at 785-628-9430