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Where Does Motivation Come From?

To begin this post, I want to examine the two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is the type of motivation that originates from outside ones internal reward system. External rewards such as praise, and outward positive perception are the driving forces of extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is the type of motivation that comes from within ones psychology, and the reward is personal, internal satisfaction. I do not think it is a stretch to believe that most people draw on both extrinsic and intrinsic sources of motivation.

Before you read any further, let's run a mental exercise: which type of motivation do you believe to be a more powerful, longer lasting mode of motivation?

If you answered "extrinsic motivation is the most powerful mode" then go delete your instagram, pour yourself a drink, and sit with your thoughts for a while. Seriously though, intrinsic motivation is certainly the more potent form of motivation, and there are certain steps one can take to turn that inner voice into a full blown cheerleader.

Oddly enough, the Spongebob gif above really says it all: it's more important to believe in yourself than to see what others think of you. The philosopher/author Jordan Peterson states in his book 12 Rules for Life that people generally already know what's right to do, but the challenge is actually doing what we know is right. The question then becomes, who holds you accountable for doing the right thing? For long term success, the answer is clear: it's you! The true challenge then becomes discovering the piece of your mind that motivates you. Questions such as "Why do I do this? How can I stay consistent?" arise, and it is imperative to address those questions as they come up. When you find the answers to those questions, it is supremely important to keep them at the forefront of your mind as you pursue your goals.

When I started lifting weights, I was 19 years old and no more than 135lbs. I was a string bean, and I thought I was the skinniest guy on my college campus at the beginning of my sophomore year. I proceeded to lift 20lb dumbbells in my room almost every day well into my junior year because I was tired of being so small and skinny. Most of my motivation at this point in my life was extrinsic: I did not like the way I was perceived by others, so I changed my behavior (lifting more weights) to fit a more "accepted" view. When I started to hit my weight gain goals and liked what I saw in the mirror, my focus began to shift...

When my body image faded into the background of my motivating factors, I had to find other avenues of psyching myself up, getting myself ready to exercise, and staying on a consistent workout plan. I discovered that my method of intrinsic motivation grew from my previous success! I did not want to squander the progress I had made, at the time, to impress others. I now wanted to stay in shape for myself, and remind myself that hard work pays off. Additionally, I serendipitously stumbled into several side effects of regular weight lifting: increased confidence, increased assertiveness, improved sleep, reduced anxiety, and reduced mental stress.

Today I am 26 years old, and a healthy 195lbs. I have come very far, and I constantly remind myself of how I got to where I am today: reminding myself that I am not here to impress others, but to impress myself.

The most important takeaway from this post is this: find what motivational methods work for you, and take action! Look within yourself, find the reasons you do what you do, and take action.

Until next time!

Written by Peter Kilian, Train with Pete LLC.

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