Motivation Articles

Mastering the Mysteries of Motivation

Understanding Motivation

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Do you often find yourself wondering where your motivation went? Do you suddenly revert back to your “old ways” without really understanding why?

If this sounds familiar, you may have some basic misconceptions about motivation: what it is, where it comes from, and what you can do to hang on to it. Well get ready to understand all those things and learn what it takes to become your own best motivator!

What is Motivation?
Many people seem to think that "being motivated" means not having to struggle with opposing desires. Not so. It is our nature as human beings to pursue both the gratification of our senses (eating what we like when we want it) and the psychological gratification of achieving meaningful but more abstract goals (being healthy, fit or attractive). Both of these pursuits are necessary for our survival, both as individuals and as societies, and both are worthy of your loyalty. Judging one of these pursuits as superior to the other is to deny half of what and who you are, and set yourself up for endless inner conflict and turmoil.

At the same time, your loyalty cannot be blind or unthinking. In the realm of eating and food choices, the modern world (and often your own kitchen) is full of well-marketed, tasty foods that appeal to your innate desires (a sweet tooth and fondness for rich foods) but are also nutritional nightmares. As long as you and the world remain less than perfect, you will have to struggle with this conflict between immediate and long-term gratification. No amount of motivation will make it go away.

Viewing motivation as the ability to resist the lure of "bad" foods or overcome the appeal of lying on the couch will only lead to frustration and self-blame. Things go much better when you see motivation as the ability to give yourself the chance to make conscious decisions and take responsibility for these choices. Therefore, the main "enemy" of motivation is the tendency to see yourself as the hapless victim of forces (or urges) over which you have no control.

Your motivation will be as strong as the amount of effort you put into making your own decisions (regardless of what they might be) with conscious awareness. Your motivation will be weak when you consider yourself to be helpless against your own urges, feelings and desires, or a victim of circumstances beyond your control.

So what causes you to lose motivation in the first place? You may start a new nutrition or exercise program with excitement and full force, ready to succeed and reach new goals. At what point does that enthusiasm die? Here are two common patterns that will kill your motivation:
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • KATARINE66
    @awogen :
    on the top of the page, there is a "more" picture, on the right of Pininterest.
    Click on this "more" picture, then click on the heart. That's done ! the page will remain in your Spark favorites !
    Katarine - 9/8/2014 7:44:50 AM
  • I wish that Spark had a way to bookmark things on their page that you find particularly helpful. I'd like to mark this so I can read it regularly, but I can only bookmark it on my browser. - 6/9/2014 5:42:44 PM
  • So true & real! Thank you Dean. - 5/12/2014 1:28:53 AM
  • WICKFORD64
    This video keeps me inspired when I feel I cant take one more step for one more day. /www. sparkpeople. com/resource/moti
    vation_articl
    es.asp?id=630 - 3/29/2014 9:33:57 PM
  • Things I never gave much thought to before...was too busy beating myself up, over "slipping up". One more reason I think SP is an answer to prayer. I read this just in the nick of time...as I was about to give up and over indulge.

    Thank you! Saved by the bell...I mean article! - 2/21/2014 2:52:35 PM
  • I really appreciated this article! It helped me to put things in perspective, and take a more balanced view of those times when I do not meet my own expectations! Obviously my expectations may not be so much the culprit as those hidden backsliding behaviors. - 2/9/2014 6:44:58 PM
  • Paraphrasing this and putting this in my blog because it fits me to a tee! - 1/16/2014 6:37:16 PM
  • I hope I can remain as motivated as I am right now through the entire year. I should say to myself each day: yes I can!!! - 1/16/2014 2:41:40 PM
  • I really needed to read this, thanks! - 1/16/2014 12:28:25 PM
  • Thank you Dean, you are so sensible. Your stuff is something I read without hesitation. It seems so well researched and thought out. - 1/16/2014 11:34:44 AM
  • Thanks Dean! I really needed to read this article today. I will read the whole series. Thanks for helping me fight this constant battle with my brain! - 1/7/2014 4:29:36 PM
  • This was a great article and one I personally needed. Thanks for the heads up. - 12/17/2013 11:02:01 AM
  • Personally, I often look at my family (1 individual) being a mood killing.
    It seems that when I try to grow or attempting to change the "normal", I have received the untrue reasons that now is not the time.
    Starting today, I will be the individual that I have been created to be!! - 11/12/2013 10:10:52 AM
  • I wish this was the case for me. My motivation has been drastically declining the past couple weeks. I'm pretty sure that I know the reason - I've lost a lot of weight and I feel good about where I am. Although, I still have 5-7 pounds to lose to get to my goal, I've let myself by happy where I am (which, I know, is a good thing), but it's also giving me reasons to ignore everything I've learned and worked hard for. I need someone to kick my butt in gear! - 11/12/2013 7:41:34 AM
  • This really hit home! I've been reading alot about loving yourself and forgiving yourself. This just goes hand in hand! I would recommend this article to any/everyone. It should be read and reread! - 10/31/2013 6:08:35 PM

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