Much like all things in life, our motivation has a natural ebb and flow to it. We’re never going to feel 100% motivated 100% of the time. Here’s where having a goal that really resonates with us is essential as it will help carry us through those moments where we’re feeling less than motivated.
So, what is a good goal? Having a goal that’s based on intrinsic values rather than extrinsic aspirations may be key here. Extrinsic goals commonly refer to status, popularity, appearance, and financial success whereas intrinsic goals are typically driven by the idea of personal growth, development, and satisfaction.
Studies show that not only are we more motivated by intrinsic goals than extrinsic ones, but those with intrinsic goals have a higher sense of well-being and overall happiness.
January is often the month where we embark on new diets and exercise programs in a quest to offset any collateral damage from the festive period. I will often see new clients whose main goal is to lose the last ten pounds of excess weight. There’s nothing wrong with having this goal, but it can be useful to dig a little deeper to see what this would mean to you. Maybe it’s that you’re honouring a commitment to yourself? Is it that you’re prioritizing your health for the first time in a long time? Maybe it’s wanting to be in control of your own behaviour and habits.
For years I would start, and inevitably stop, various exercise programs in an attempt to “get fit” so I would feel better in a swimsuit. This wasn’t a bad goal per se, but it wasn’t sufficient enough to get me through those moments when it was cold and dark and the sofa and Netflix were looking far more tempting than going for a run or to the gym.
I needed to dig deeper, what did ‘getting fit’ actually mean to me? I knew that years of sitting down in front of my computer studying wasn’t good for my health. I wanted to feel more active and vibrant in my body. I also wanted to age well. I knew that with each passing year I was losing muscle mass. If I wanted to stay active and fit and well into old age, I was going to have to start doing something about it now. This was a much more powerful and specific why for me than just wanting to get fit.
Switching out the extrinsic goal for an intrinsic one helps get me through those moments when my motivation is low because I have a much more meaningful why.
Take a look at your goal this new year and ask yourself the meaning behind it.
Why is this goal important to you?
Why do you want it?
See if you can find your intrinsic motivation to help you achieve your goals beyond January.