Like many new-aged moms, I too am on a fitness journey. I’ve taken way too many ‘before’ pictures, but I’m yet to take all the ‘after’ photos. I’m also on a career journey and a self-bettering one. I’m on a spiritual journey and a relationship journey. I’ve set out goals for myself in many aspects of my life. But during the last week when my ever-famous husband was interviewed by a fellow blogger (you can read that interview here), he was confronted with a very important question: why?
Why are you doing what you’re doing? What motivates you? What keeps you going forward after failure?
When I applied these questions to my life and my own goals and aspirations, I realized something. I realized that after four years of studying and two degrees later, I actually have the right answer to these very important questions.
We all have some sort of motivation, whether that’s something you know and acknowledge or not. That motivation, once you know that you actually have one, can be divided into two categories. I acquired this knowledge when I did my Post Graduate Certificate in Education. You either have intrinsic or external motivation to complete or participate in something. Intrinsic motivation refers to that little voice inside your head that dares you to better than you were the last time. It’s an internal motivation and reason for wanting to do something. After my pregnancy I decided to start exercising, not necessarily to lose weight but to gain strength. I found that pregnancy and breastfeeding sometimes made me feel weak and I missed being able to climb stairs without gasping for breath. Since making that decision however, I’ve found that I sometimes have to rely on external motivation as well. The internet is full of posts and stories about moms letting themselves and others “off the hook”. You DON’T need to exercise every day. You DON’T need to look perfect. You DON’T need to eat healthy all the time. And while I’m all for cutting yourself some slack, this actually demotivated me from achieving my goals. Whenever I felt like this, my husband was my external motivation. He almost forces me to get up and do something active. He reminds me of my goals and sometimes he throws in the added reward of a visit to my local Zara or a Seattle coffee.
Sometimes I write because I have something on my heart and I want to share that with all of my loyal readers. Other times I don’t feel like writing at all, but I know that it will look bad if I don’t. Sometimes I run a 10k because I want to prove to myself that I can. Other times I run because everyone else does.
Both intrinsic and external motivations are important in life. I mean, what type of six year old feels like they want to willingly submit themselves to twelve years of academics? Children especially the young ones, go to school and try to achieve good grades because they want to make US proud. They do it because we, the external motivators, encourage them to. Later, when they realise that they need a solid education to reach their own goals, that motivation becomes intrinsic.
I think the biggest thing to remember is that balance is key. I know this, not because I was taught during my academic studies, but because of raw, pure and unadulterated experience. Experience has taught me that you should have intrinsic goals and motivations, but that it’s okay to rely on external motivators too.