A couple of weeks ago, I convinced one of my co-workers to enrol in the gym I was a member of. She asked me in the pantry about my gym, the fee, the environment, etc. I answered her inquiries excitedly. The following two weeks, she was at the gym with me busting her ass on the treadmill, on a bench, on a mat, and with a pair of dumbbells. Then I wrote a blog post titled “Recruiting” for this blog but I never got beyond the first draft. Now it makes sense why I didn’t go back to writing. It wasn’t meant to be published because weeks later my co-worker had “given up”.
Motivation is everywhere nowadays. It’s in books, in movies, in billboards, in slogans, on your Facebook feed, on blogs, on Tumblr, and even on Instagram. It’s inescapable. Throughout my perusing, finding, and digesting it, I learned one important thing about motivation. You can’t motivate anyone.
Related post: How Sweet Is Your Motivation?
Anyone can read, like, tweet, or talk about motivation. However, there is no guarantee that doing those things will make one motivated.
There are two types of motivation: Intrinsic and extrinsic.
“Intrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by internal rewards. In other words, the motivation to engage in a behavior arises from within the individual because it is intrinsically rewarding. This contrasts with extrinsic motivation, which involves engaging in a behavior in order to earn external rewards or avoid punishments.”
Extrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is driven by external rewards such as money, fame, grades, and praise. This type of motivation arises from outside the individual, as opposed to intrinsic motivation, which originates inside of the individual.
I enjoy fitness for a number of great reasons: I want to avoid sickness, I want to counteract the effects of a sedentary lifestyle of working with computers, I want to improve my body shape, and I want to live a long life (if I want to be an author of many books). Nobody is forcing me to do this. No one is dangling a tub of whey protein in front of me to push me to the gym every workday. I am doing it because I want to. I am intrinsically motivated.
Once, I met a person in the gym who went there because he had a bet with his co-worker. Whoever had the leanest body between them at the end of the year would win the money pool. The money reward was the motivating factor in going to the gym and working out. That’s extrinsic motivation.
The first excuse my co-worker gave to me when she first skipped the gym was work. Okay, that’s quite understandable. Our job pays the bills, the gym membership, the whey protein, the workout clothes, the shoes, and the healthy food.
After that she began to skip the gym again. It went on for two days, then three, four, five, a week, and a week more. She wanted to recuperate from the demands of work, I found out.
Then the final sign came. I walked to her desk and casually asked her why she had not gone to the gym again. With a low laugh she responded, “I’m no longer excited to go the gym.” I smiled and walked away.
At this point in my life, I know better than motivating someone who couldn’t motivate themselves. I have witnessed people high on initial motivation pursue the path of fitness, only to give up at some point because they couldn’t maintain motivation. They set off on the road of fitness for the following reasons: they want to lose weight to impress others, they’re going to the beach in a few weeks, they’re going to attend a special occasion in a few weeks, they participated in a bet, or they just want to tone their flabby arms. All the mentioned reasons are extrinsic.
The common denominator of people who pursue fitness, and their dreams and ambitions relentlessly is intrinsic motivation. They do things for themselves, because they want to, it feels good, and they love it. People’s opinions or any material gains are irrelevant. Sure, those will come in later such but they’re not the reason for staying on track. The people I see on the gym regularly are those who are in love with fitness and well-being, not those who only go there to sculpt their beach bodies. I have mad respect for them.
I’ll keep going to the gym and keep eating healthy. I’ll continue to blog my journey here on Fizz No More. I hope to preach by example. But to motivate others is off my to-do list. I will leave that task for themselves.
Cover image: Tri-State Tough Mudder 2012 by Shawn Perez