Thursday, July 21, 2016

Motivationally Speaking...

Motivation is a fickle thing.

This blog is making me think a lot about my relationship with the great outdoors.  When push comes to shove, I usually need both to get up and get outside.

I've been pondering why that is, exploring my fears (dying in a freak accident) and freak-out causers (bugs).  But only recently have I started focusing on the concept of motivation.
Motivation: the state or condition of being motivated or having a strong reason to act or accomplish something  (I'm going with's second definition here).
What are my reasons for wanting to spend time in the out-of-doors?  Well, let's see:

1) It's pretty.
2) I live in Maine--I'm supposed to want to go outside.
3) I need exercise because I am not as healthy as I want to be.
4) Kevin needs walks.
5) I feel great when I get back inside after going outside.

Recently I started reading Michelle Segar's book, No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness.  Now listen; it has actually taken me a fair bit of courage to tell you I'm reading this book.  I worry about people gettin' judgey over my choice of reading material.  I find the title of the book corny, and I look at any self-help text with a wary eye, but I bought this book because I am constantly bemoaning my lack of motivation and will power.

I'm only a few chapters in, so I'm reserving my full judgement of it for now, but something I read in the book about motivation has been playing pinball in my brain.

At one point, Segar asks this question: "On a scale of 1 to 5--with 1 being 'a chore to accomplish' and 5 being 'a gift to give yourself'--circle the number that best describes how you feel about exercise.  1 2 3 4 5."

I've been subbing in other words in place of "exercise" in this question: writing, bike-riding, going outside, cleaning the house, etc. etc.  Segar suggests that when something feels like a chore, it's because the motivations for it lie outside of ourselves--they are "should"s  imposed by society ("I should lose weight," "I should be healthier").  But activities that feel like a gift have internal motivations ("This makes me feel awesome").  So people who love running because of how they feel when they run are going to keep at it longer than people who run because they think running is something they should do to stay healthy.

She spends a good deal of time explaining about how extrinsic motivation does not really help someone achieve goals, but intrinsic motivation does. 

Looking back at my list of reasons for spending time outside, I see that 3 of the 5 are extrinsic.  Oops.

She goes on to talk about how we can reframe our motivations, but I'm only part way into that chapter.

Here's how this has impacted my life this week:

Kevin and I have gone for a hike every day so far (Mon. to Thurs.) and I have been very conscious of my "why."  Yeah, we could both use the exercise, but I've been focusing on a) how lovely it feels to be outside and b) how great I feel when I accomplish a hike.  It has really felt great.   I've definitely had a "gift" instead of "chore" mentality.  Who knew?

Monday: Hedgehog Mountain

Tuesday: Mackworth Island
Wednesday: Hedgehog again

Thursday: Winslow Park

Addendum: I have also had an absolute blast keeping track of my walks on Strava.  Lots of my biking friends use this (as does Adventure Husband), but I've started using it to record my walks, and I have a groovy time filling in my log for the walk and adding photos.  It's cool to see what a route looks like, how long it is, and what the elevation changes are.  It also gives me my pace and all that jazz.  Super cool. Here's a sample from this week.

No comments:

Post a Comment