Do you ever consider what your dream life would be like? How do you get there? What is the secret?
Throughout history, philosophers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and probably a fair few charlatans have attempted to answer this question.
We can’t promise to help you manifest your dream life, but what if some elements of your vision are within reach? Good health. Fitness. Feeling positive about yourself. Many things at the heart of living a good life rely on our actions and behaviour, day to day. And changing your behaviour and habits is a skill that you can learn and become good at. So, what are you waiting for?
Motivation is the fuel we need to pursue our goals. When it comes to adhering to a lifestyle programme, it can be difficult to find motivation and sustain it for the long haul. Long-term success in pursuing behaviour change is much more likely if you put some thought into what’s motivating you.
Throughout our daily lives, every action relies on some level of motivation, and this can be either intrinsic or extrinsic.
What is intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?
- Intrinsic – Intrinsic motivation comes from within. It occurs when we do something because it’s enjoyable and interesting, as opposed to it having some other incentive such as a financial reward, or a pressing deadline. An example might be meeting a friend for coffee or going for a walk along the beach on holiday. You do the activity because it’s internally rewarding.
- Extrinsic – Extrinsic motivation arises from outside. When you’re extrinsically motivated, you act with less regard to how it feels at the time but with the view to gaining an external reward. Extrinsically motivated goals are focused on an outcome that doesn’t address your basic psychological needs; this might be winning a competition, obtaining praise, or avoiding negative consequences.
Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can be helpful, but research tells us that it’s sensible for us to limit our extrinsic motivation because of the ‘overjustification effect’. This is a phenomenon where the external rewards for doing something diminish the intrinsic motivation to do it. This means that when people are given rewards, such as prizes or money, for something that they already find intrinsically rewarding, their internal motivations start to decrease.
It’s thought that the overjustification effect may occur because we tend to pay more attention to external rewards than we do to internal ones. Another theory is that we can regard external reward as a coercive force, ‘bribing’ us into doing something. This might prevent us from finding ways to enjoy it and find intrinsic motivation. Conversely, we experience intrinsic motivation when we feel free of external constraints, a sense of self-belief and competence, and a feeling that we’re involved with others.
So, what does this mean for your health and weight loss goals?
Intrinsic motivation for healthy habits
Finding ways to enjoy healthy habits such as meal prep, eating healthy food mindfully, and exercising regularly, is key. Striving to let go of reliance on external factors such as the number on the scales or receiving praise for how you look can help you to lock these habits in for the long term. Intrinsic motivation can be fostered and through this you can take more control over the factors determining your success.
Focusing on intrinsic motivation can be a challenge. Most of us grew up relying on positive feedback from other people to keep us motivated. This may have started at school with exams, achievements on the sports field and so on. The motivation to do well may have been fear of punishment or winning prizes, as opposed to fostering internal motivation. This mindset can continue into adulthood as we move through our career and build an independent personal life.
As you strive to achieve your health objectives, NUVI is a dependable support network that is at your disposal. We’ll support you to change the habits that are holding you back, helping you to recognise the key factors motivating you, and working with you to reach your destination for the long term.
Where do I start? Start at the end!
When you decide to make improvements to your lifestyle, it’s helpful to set official goals. You might think about your ‘destination goal’, for example, to lose 5kgs, and your ‘process goals’ which are the specific actions you will take to reach this goal. Using a template such as SMART or WOOP can help you to understand and plan for any challenges that lie ahead in between you and your destination goal.
What is WOOP goal setting?
For example, a WOOP goal is structured like this:
W: Your wish
This might be your destination goal, or any number of process goals.
O: Your best outcome
What will reaching this goal mean for you? What does your life look like when you’ve achieved this goal?
O: Obstacles that might get in the way
What challenges might come up along the way? What have you struggled with before?
P: Your plan to overcome any obstacles and reach your goal.
What plans can you put in place to help you overcome these challenges?
A common mistake with lifestyle change is setting unrealistic goals and expectations for yourself. You may be able to sustain this for a short period of time but are likely to become burned out quickly. Particularly in the context of weight loss, this can lead to yoyo dieting, low self-esteem and poor health outcomes. Starting with small changes and focusing on intrinsic motivation and consistency can help you to build habits that last a lifetime and genuinely make you healthier long term. Visualise yourself achieving each progress and destination goal. How does it feel? What does it look like? Studies have shown that if we believe in ourselves, we’re far more likely to achieve our goals.
Consider running a marathon. It takes training and dedication to complete the arduous challenge of running 26 miles! Even after many months of training, you can’t achieve your goal all at once; you must take that marathon one step and one mile at a time. If you believe you can do it, you’ll have an extra spring in your step, and will probably enjoy the process that much more.
Do you believe you can do this? At NUVI, we believe you can do anything!
The Kindness Method
Be kind to yourself as you work towards your goals. Cultivating a sense of love and acceptance about yourself and others can help you to make decisions that are aligned with your goals. Behaviour change expert, Shahroo Izadi, asks, what would you say to a treasured loved one who was trying to stay on track and reach their goals? Would you be encouraging and kind or negative and harsh? Accepting that we are human and will make mistakes along the path to self-improvement plays a central role in being able to make meaningful and sustainable progress over time.
Practising gratitude regularly may help you to further foster your intrinsic motivation. Appreciate how far you’ve come at each stage of your journey, and which process goals you’ve achieved. Using a daily gratitude journal can help you to connect with your progress and the vision you have for yourself. Understanding and leaning into the deeply held reasons behind your goals can help to propel you forwards. Let the momentum you have take you to your destination.
Just as a positive mindset, self-belief and taking small steps towards your goals lead to tangible results, so do your daily interactions. Communicating with others about your goals is known to improve your chances of success by 40%! This doesn’t mean you need to declare to everyone you meet that you’re trying to lose weight; it just means that if you tell a few people, who you know will be generally supportive, that you’re working on your health and lifestyle, then you’re far more likely to succeed. Choose people who you can communicate with regularly and who’ll be positive about what you’re doing. You can also seek accountability and support from a health coach or online community such as NUVI.
Make It Happen
Remember that even the tiniest victories count as accomplishments. Small steps taken each day build up to marathon-scale achievements!
Setting and achieving realistic objectives will lead to feelings of accomplishment and this triggers reward chemicals in the brain which over time helps you to build habits that gradually make it easier for you to achieve and sustain your goals. Celebrate your wins, and move past inevitable bumps in the road as seamlessly as you can.
Make it happen! At NUVI our staff are here to inspire, motivate and guide you. We will support you to achieve your health goals, preventing and reversing obesity and poor metabolic health through personalised lifestyle changes.
We would love to hear your thoughts about what motivates you and your success stories.
Written by Laura Baker, Health and Wellness Content Writer and Jessica Uffindell, Senior Nutritional Therapist and Health Coach