Five years ago, I wanted to get fit.
So, I joined a gym. I paid the membership price and I was ready to rock and roll.
I was excited. I imagined how my body will transform in a few months.
Day one was fun. I gave my full effort and felt like a superhero.
The next day was painful. My body was sore and I didn’t want to go to the gym. But I used my willpower and went to the gym anyways.
The next day was even more painful. So, I rested before another day of workout.
When I went to the gym next time, things were different. It wasn’t that “fun” anymore. I didn’t feel like a superhero.
I hated working out. I even hated the thought of going to the gym. After a few weeks, I quit the gym.
This is the story of so many people who want to start something new in their life with enthusiasm but quit after losing motivation.
Today, I’m more fit than ever before. I’ve been working out for four years. Training my body is part of my life and I truly enjoy it.
I’m sure you have at least one thing you love doing. It could be anything — writing, programming, designing, marketing, drawing, singing, playing an instrument, cooking, etc.
Others may find it hard or boring but you can’t imagine your life without it. So, what’s the difference here?
The difference is that when you intrinsically start to enjoy something, it becomes easy for you to keep doing it. You don’t have to use your willpower to keep doing what you love doing.
When you start something new, you may not instantly like doing it. You will go through the hard parts and you may get the urge to quit.
At this stage, you will need a carrot or a stick. It means you can maintain discipline either using a reward (carrot) or a punishment (stick). If someone or a group can keep you accountable, it will help you to keep pushing even when you hate the process.
This is where all the coaches, challenges, reward systems or fancy apps can help you to grind when the time is tough.
But you can’t rely on these systems forever. You have to fall in love with the behaviors to make it part of your life. When you do things out of love, you will enjoy your life and improve at the same time.
So, here’s how you can become intrinsically motivated for anything you want to do in life.
Edward Deci and Richard Ryan created a system for intrinsic motivation and called it as Self Determination Theory. There are three parts to it — Autonomy, Competency, and Relatedness.
In his book Drive, Daniel Pink talks about a similar theory. He calls the drivers as — Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.
Both theories are similar. On combining both of them, we have four key drivers of intrinsic motivation:
Autonomy is freedom. It’s when you are free to do things your own way.
After learning about the essentials of working out, I designed my own workouts. I loved planning my workouts as it gave me the freedom to train my own way.
Now, I’m doing same with writing. I’m writing about the topics I want to write about. I’m learning how to write great, engaging content but at the same time, I’m writing for myself during the writing process. The editing process is when I think about you (the readers).
Allow freedom in your work. Take ownership, break the norms and do things your own way.
We all love to do excellent work. When we notice progress and see positive results, we don’t want to lose it.
Few months after working out, I didn’t only work out to gain muscles or lose fat. I got inspired from people doing calisthenics. They had mastery over their body so I aimed to master my own bodyweight. Later, I also went into weight training and other types of fitness mastery (balance, speed, mobility, flexibility, etc.)
You got to have something you can aim for. If you don’t enjoy running on a treadmill, find a physical activity you can master to see your progress.
As I’m working on my writing skills, I’m writing and learning about it regularly. I don’t want to be an average writer. I want to master the craft. Every time I write, I compete with my previous writing piece.
So, track your behavior or skill, make your progress noticeable and aim for mastery.
The purpose acts as a fuel for your soul. When you have a strong purpose, quitting is not an option. Why are you doing what you’re doing?
The reason I workout is that I want to look and feel good in my body. I want to use my body to the best of my ability. I want to live a long, lively life while avoiding diseases.
The reason I write is that I want to express myself and make a positive impact in your life. I want to make the world a better place because I was here. To reach you, I have to master my craft.
The purpose behind your goal can be meaningful or it can be purely for joy and inner peace. To dig down your deep purpose, ask yourself “why” as many times as you can until you find the core meaning. Once you find your purpose, remind yourself on a regular basis to stay driven.
Human beings are social animals. We all know that. Yet, so often we try to become a lone wolf. We all need a sense of connection and belonging. A community or a few friends can provide the love and support you need to achieve your goals.
In an online age, it is much easier to find a community of like-minded people for any goal you want to achieve. If you can’t find like-minded close friends in your surroundings, make online friends through communities. Follow people who are leaders in your area. They can act as virtual mentors for you. There is a blog for every niche out there.
Connect with people, provide help, ask for help, get inspired, give and take feedback. Do anything it takes to find like-minded people but don’t go alone.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. — African Proverb
When you accomplish goals with other people, you will not only enjoy the process but you will create an environment of continuous growth.
If you want to succeed and enjoy the process, you need more than a carrot or a stick. Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, and Relatedness will help you to develop intrinsic motivation. Fall in love with the daily grind and enjoy each day of your life.
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