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The Best Way to Get Motivated

It is true that there are many situations like a downsized office with scarce resources and people constantly stretched to the limit where it is difficult to alter the conditions that affect enjoyment. These external situations impose real restrictions, but they make the moments you can control even more important! You can always choose your own attitude and priorities and make your personal conduct the arbiter of your success.

This brings to mind another little-known fact: Intrinsic motivation can often bring about extrinsic rewards. Let’s face it, when you love what you’re doing, you tend to spend more time at it, developing your skills and abilities. As a result, you have a better shot at becoming a top player at whatever you do. In other words, intrinsic enjoyment can often lead to extrinsic excellence.

Take Charlie for example, two years ago one of his swimmers placed 8th in national competition. Charlie trained her to focus on enjoying the process more, and last year she took home the top prize an accomplishment that reflected well on them both! For people focusing on fitness, this lesson is incredibly important. Knowing how you want to look or what you want to achieve can help you define your goals and keep them clearly in mind, but to keep progressing, you need to create a process and mindset you can enjoy along the way.

Roots of Wisdom

Although the concept of intrinsic motivation is now best known in modern psychology, teaching and coaching circles, it has existed for a long time and has functioned in much broader contexts. It was, in fact, the basis for Aristotle’s definition of the good life his concept that true enjoyment is the pleasure of using one’s own skill, as opposed to doing something just for a reward.

According to Aristotle, the definition of happiness is: “the exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence in a life affording them scope.” Now there’s something to think about the next time you head out for a long run, consider a career change or encounter virtually any other opportunity to do your best work for the best of reasons namely, that it matters to you, that you care about doing it well and that it makes you happy while you are doing it.

If, on the other hand, you are working or working out in a slavish pursuit of some outward goal, Aristotle’s definition of happiness may give you ample reason to pause and put things in perspective. If you aren’t “exercising your vital powers,” and you’re not striving for excellence, and/or if your life doesn’t afford your effort the scope and meaning you think it should, consider why. Weigh the forces that intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are exerting in your life, and start creating a healthier shift toward your own internal, high-velocity catalysts. You’ll be amazed at how far they can take you.

Jeremy Hunter is Director of Research at the Quality of Life Research Institute at the Peter F. Drucker School of Management at Claremont University.

Resources
6 Questions That Can Change Your Life: Completely, Dramatically, Forever by Joseph Nowinski Ph.D. (Rodale Press, 2002)

Intrinsic Motivation at Work: Building Energy & Commitment by Kenneth W. Thomas (Berrett-Koehler, 2000)

Related:
Facing the Demons of Inaction
Brilliant Ways to Create Positive Change
15 Motivational Tips to Help You Dream Big

Read more: Do Good, Guidance, Health, Self-Help, Spirit, , , , ,

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

330 comments

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6:17PM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

fantabulous!

6:30PM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

Ta for posting.

8:31AM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

thanks for sharing

12:30PM PDT on Mar 15, 2012

I definitely agree. What's the point in a goal if you don't enjoy the journey getting there? You might get hit by a bus tomorrow and never reach what you were after, and wouldn't it be a shame to do all that slogging for nothing?

3:35PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Thanks for that article.

10:57AM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

fantastic article!

5:19AM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

I ask myself, in the different phases of my life, "What is it that I want most of all? What is my goal for this time period?"

Once I know what my major goal is, I line everything in life up by that goal. It's easy to get motivated. I just remember what I want most of all....my goal, my purpose.

If the excitement of reaching for my goal phases out, I go back to the question "What is it that I want most of all? What is my goal for this time period?"

Works for me.

4:40AM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Love it!

11:04AM PST on Mar 9, 2012

I totally agree that if you don't enjoy the process of reaching your goel, you're not going to be happy with the outcome, and the work you did along the way will be low quality and confused. As a consummer would you want a distracted lawyer, Dr., Dentist, banker, server, cook, anything? I find it odd that our culture seems to pay the most to those who bring the least conscious attention to their work, and little or nothing to mothers/homemakers and teachers of our kids, small organic growers and others who do very important work.That's not always the case, of course, but it would be interesting if people only got paid when ever their brains registered a high degree of joyful involvement with what they were doing.

6:44AM PST on Mar 9, 2012

Thanks

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