There’s no getting away from it – that overused term – “Motivation”! And if you want to know more about it, there is no shortage of material, books, articles, speakers etc. to fill you in. But really what does it mean to be motivated? The essence of motivation is energy. Energy to drive us forward to make that change. Yet motivation can also come from many different areas – some more powerful than others.
Let’s keep it simple and look at two sources. Controlled motivation and autonomous motivation. Both can be helpful but one more than the other.
Controlled motivation comes from outside. Often from another person, who may well have the best interests in mind for the person they are pushing to make a change. Health professionals have traditionally been the people who provide “controlled motivation.” They provide all the facts, the dangers and the wisdom of their superior knowledge to convince their clients to make a change. When someone is influenced by this type of motivation, they tend to “comply” with someone else’s desires. You may have heard this referred to as extrinsic motivation, but “controlled” suggests that there is a third party involved. Frequently there is an element of fear inherent in the urge to change.
Autonomous motivation has quite a different feeling about it. This is when a person is motivated by interest, desire and choice. They have a sense of control and value over the change they’re about to make. They are energised in a different way and often feel a sense of excitement about the challenge ahead. Health and wellness coaches work in this space… Their job is to “unleash” their clients’ own motivation to change.
Why is the latter so much more powerful than the former? As human beings, we have certain drives that are universal and one is the drive to control our own destiny to be “autonomous” and “self-determining”. Although the support of a coach or other person may be of great help, ultimately we will become more flexible and creative, persistent and successful when we are driven from within.
How we do tap into this type of motivation? Simply by reflecting on the importance of the change we wish to make. Time spent uncovering our real reasons to change is time well spent and an investment in the outcome of our efforts. All too often, we rush in to do what others have propounded as being the “right” way to live. Why not stop and ask yourself:
- What will this change mean to me?
- What will happen if I continue the way I am living?
- What else might change if I am successful?
- What does the change represent to me?
Then we’re armed with what we need to move forward. But only then!