One Foot on the Floor: Motivation to Start the Day
“Excuse me, Excuse me. What’s my motivation?”
That’s a line from an old Sprite commercial. Three tough basketball players are accosted by a stern director and opine about the philosophical struggle to perform.
To this day, those words echo in my mind when someone barks orders or my motivation dips. How do I access that inner drive when my narcolepsy nemesis is wearing me down?
My kids are my motivation
The hardest part of my day, every day, is getting out of bed. The desire to take care of my kids is the motivation I need to get going. As the primary care parent for 3 kids, their care relies on me. The relationship is symbiotic; we provide each other with love and the push to succeed.
The drive to flex my paternal muscles and care for them is the source of my strength. Helping them excel is an equally strong driving force. When my kids are with their mom for the weekend, my transition to wakefulness is more difficult.
How do I tap into motivation to keep putting one foot in front of the other? When I seek answers, I look to the scientist and researcher in me. Therefore, it’s important to understand how motivation brings “strength, intensity, and persistence” to life.1
Self-determination theory provides me with insight into motivation and myself. At the intersection of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation lives the heart of the self-determination theory.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
Intrinsic motivation is engaging in behavior that one finds rewarding. Extrinsic motivation is external rewards that drive internal motivation. At the heart of self-determination theory are the principles of autonomy, competence, and relatedness/connection. It’s important to remember that extrinsic rewards can be a positive influence on intrinsic motivation.1 Simply put, extrinsic motivation comes from external sources whereas intrinsic motivation comes from internal sources.
My kids’ presence is a blend of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In their absence, my motivation wanes, making time with them a reward of sorts or an extrinsic incentive. The desire to provide for them by earning a paycheck is an external reward. Their company and care are carrots to keep me moving.
My intrinsic motivation as a father and PWN
Ultimately, I’m intrinsically motivated by the joy that my kids’ presence provides. Intrinsic motivation will promote self-determination when it provides autonomy, competence, and connection.2 First, autonomy is self-driven by providing my kids’ safety. Second, competence is provided by effectively caring for them. Third, the connection is provided by emotional bonds.
Using these three guiding principles of autonomy, competence, and connection, I see how my desire to be the World’s Strongest Personhaving narcolepsy with cataplexy is intrinsically motivated. First, autonomy is provided by my desire for self-improvement. Second, competence is provided by success in building my strength foundation. Third, community is ensured by the bonds I make through lifting buddies and through my guerrilla gym advocacy.
Looking for balance to achieve success
Success is not guaranteed, not as a father and provider or in the gym. A strong sense of self-determination goes a long way toward achieving my goals. Strengthening and optimizing my resolve motivates me to grow as a father/provider, advocate, and strength athlete.
Understanding the nuances of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is less important than realizing there are internal and external factors. For the best opportunity for success, I look for balance. One way, is I look for vocations and not occupations. Strong interest and fulfillment in my work yield intrinsic motivation. It's easier to get moving when I am excited to work.
What's my motivation?
When I am looking at what pushes me and motivates me, it’s important to examine “what’s my motivation?” How can I internalize external rewards and translate them into intrinsic motivation? There are some activities in life that necessitate some extrinsic rewards. Finding healthy rewards can be useful to accomplish routine and mundane tasks at work.
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