An Inquiry into Motivation:

19 November 2012
Mental Edge
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When the Winter Comes

Have you noticed? A change of season is upon us. The long streak of dry days has passed. Light has disappeared. We enter the days of Seasonal Affective Disorder with its cold, melancholy rain.

In times like these, it can be hard to remain motivated to exercise and achieve goals. What makes us motivated and how can we harness those truths to remain focused despite external circumstances?

Motivation: The Search for Effectiveness

How does one get motivated? Tory Higgins, Columbia University professor of psychology, declares, “The essence of human motivation is that we want to be effective. It’s what makes us feel alive.” Higgins suggests there are three ways to achieve effectiveness:

Value — Achieving a desired result motivates us.
Control — Having influence over an action motivates us.
Truth — Seeking what we believe to be true motivates us.

When it comes to training, any of these inputs provide resources for motivation. When you see growth on the playing field, you are motivated to continue training. When you understand the cause/effect relationship between training and performance, motivation follows. And, when you operate under the principle that your training matters, you have the heart to press forward.

Beginning with the End in Mind

One easy way to maintain motivation is to begin with the end in mind. Under this vision, you achieve the three effective principles for motivation. Visualizing the end result, you find value in your current training; you have control over the process; you believe in the significance of your work.

So how do you get motivated? Remind yourself of the desire to be effective. Remember your training is a route to effectiveness. Start with the end in mind. Align your motivations behind the principles of value, control, and truth. It makes us happy to be effective. If we understand the process toward effectiveness, we will be motivated to continue exercising no matter the external circumstances.

Have you been discouraged during your training recently? What tangible steps could you take to gain motivation?