The Missing ‘e’ in Motivation

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Motivation has been taking a bit of a beating.  Many people are slamming the idea of motivation.  Just because it’s something we struggle with at times does not mean it doesn’t exist. 

For most people who struggle with motivation (when it comes to fitness and health behaviors), it’s because their motivation is missing an ‘e.’

To be clear, we all have plenty of motivation.  It’s just a question of what it is directed toward.

Some are motivated by unhealthy behaviors.  Some are motivated by getting stronger or feeling better. Some are motivated by money or status. Some are motivated to have perfectly clean homes or spotless cars.  Others to be good citizens, parents, or employees.

When someone struggles with fitness and health behaviors, it is because the emotion is missing from their motivation. (That’s the missing ‘e’ from above.)

We have little trouble finding motivation for things we care about and are drawn to.

The problem with fitness in particular is that it is often presented as if the only way forward is the most difficult and misery-inducing one. 

One popular fitness program even has a saying (borrowed from the military), “embrace the suck.”  This isn’t objectively wrong, but it’s wrong for most people as they will forever find such approaches aversive.

Yes, fitness needs to be challenging, but it can also be fun and enjoyable. (See “A Meditation on Motivation“) Someone who deeply dislikes moving has learned to.  Humans naturally thrive with movement.

Turning that around means being clear about what we care about and what truly motivates us, and then connecting that with the ways that better fitness and health will give us more of what we are about and help us enjoy it more fully. 

The specifics are a unique answer for everyone, but the concept is the same.

Wherever you find a lack of motivation, you will find a lack of emotion.  Connect what you care about to your health plan, and suddenly the ‘emotivation appears in abundance. 

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