Is Intrinsic Motivation The Key to Success?

By Lindsey Johnson
Intrinsic Motivation

Why does it seem that some people can get up and run every morning, consistently select the healthier lunch option or create other daily healthy habits, while it’s a struggle for others? The answer all lies in the mindset. Intrinsic motivation, or motivation that comes from within instead of an outside influence, is the key to success in most aspects of life. While extrinsic motivation, such as a monetary incentive or winning bragging rights, can be a helpful kickstart to healthy habits, consistency and intrinsic motivation are the key to sustainable change.

How do I create intrinsic motivation?

I’m just not feeling it… Sit down with a pen and paper and contemplate both your “why” and your goals. What is it you ultimately hope to achieve? Are you working to reverse, prevent or delay chronic disease? Are you aiming to have more energy to play soccer in the backyard with the kids or grandkids? Do you want to be at peace to fully enjoy every minute of life? Do you want to be the best version of yourself so you can positively influence the world and the people in it? Once you determine your “why,” this becomes the basis for motivation. To be the best version of yourself, you train your mind, body and spirit to honor yourself and create an environment to have your needs met. You are important, and putting yourself at the top of your priority list helps you take small steps towards your objectives.

When you see your mind and body as tools to help you achieve your goals, it’s easier to treat them with love and respect. Small changes such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking further from the entrance to the store, swapping out meat in one meal or taking a few minutes to meditate all become simple ways to honor and respect yourself. By changing your perspective to view healthy habits as stepping stones towards goals versus tasks that you “should” do, the mindset shifts towards yearning to create a healthy environment within your own stratus of influence. When the motivation wanes, revisit your “why” for a boost to get you back on track.

I’ve created my “why” — where do I start?

Like any behavioral change, starting small and staying consistent are critical to long-term impacts. New habits often take anywhere between 21 to 66 days to become fully integrated into your routine. Once the first small step becomes second nature, you can progress to doing more. For example, to add more bite-sized activity to your day, start with taking the stairs every time you are going to the second floor of a building. Once this becomes an ingrained choice, start choosing the stairs over the elevator when you are ascending three to five floors. If you do this multiple times throughout the day, start with ascending once per day by stairs and gradually increase. Soon these small changes become a routine habit and take you one step closer to optimal health and wellness.

Shifting the mindset towards health and wellness is essential for achieving your life goals. By approaching healthy habits as steps towards improving quality of life, you will reframe your thinking to welcome these habits instead of dreading them. You are important – treat yourself with the kindness and support you give others and allow yourself the opportunity to thrive.



Motivation that comes from within yourself. Examples: Enjoyment , Interest, Learning, Curiosity, Satisfaction


Motivation that comes from an outside influence. Examples: Avoiding punishment, Reward, Prize, Money, Bragging rights, Praise

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