Know Thyself – What Motivates You?

It is often said that it takes 30 days to form a pattern and 90 days to form a habit, but as Jim Ryun says, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going”.

So how do you get motivated to do things like run and keep to a training schedule? Then, what keeps you motivated?

Know thyself - What motivates you? How do I know what my desires are? This is where Maslow 's Hierarchy of Needs can assist you.

We all know motivation is entirely personal. What motivates one individual won ‘t necessarily motivate another. The real key is to understand: what motivates you based on your own unique set of desires? Once you understand your own desires, you can set goals based on those desires. These goals will help to keep you motivated.

Now you ‘re asking yourself – what motivates me? How do I know what my desires are? This is where Maslow ‘s Hierarchy of Needs can assist you. Maslow ‘s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation. Maslow ‘s Hierarchy of Needs is often depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels: the four lower levels are grouped together as being associated with physiological needs, while the top level is termed growth needs associated with psychological needs. Maslow ‘s theory is that motivation is driven by the existence of unsatisfied needs. So what are your unsatisfied needs? Well, you can find out by taking this 36 question simple online test:

I took the test and here are my results:

Maslow Inventory Results

Physiological Needs (14%) you appear to have everything you need to survive physically.

Safety Needs (14%) you appear to have a very secure environment.

Love Needs (67%) you appear to be unhappy with the quality of your social connections.

Esteem Needs (54%) you appear to have a medium level of skill competence.

Self-Actualization (41%) you appear to have an average level of individual development.

From this we can see that my unsatisfied need is LOVE. Based on that, I can assume that joining a running group or running regularly with a friend would motivate me and satisfy that need.

Here are some motivational goals and activities based on each unsatisfied need as set out by Maslow:

  • Physiological Needs: Maybe you are sick? Battling an illness? Injured? Feeling unhealthy? Motivational goals that center around feeling healthy would work best i.e., running to lose some weight, lower your resting heart rate, decrease your blood pressure, following a rehab plan for an injury, etc.
  • Safety Needs: Maybe your life is in an uncontrolled state right now-you feel like things are out of your control. Why not satisfy that need by using a structured training plan to regain some control and a feeling of safety?
  • Love Needs: When love needs are not met, running with a friend, a partner, a pet or a running club can be very motivating.
  • Esteem Needs: Accomplishing something that is impressive to others will be motivating to those with unfulfilled self-esteem needs. Maybe you ‘ve been running 5Ks? Try for a more impressive distance or finishing time to motivate yourself.
  • Self-Actualization: According to the Wikipedia entry on self-actualization, this is the “instinctual need of humans to make the most of their abilities and to strive to be the best they can. Working toward fulfilling our potential, toward becoming all that we are capable of becoming.” Creating a training plan that focuses on running your best race, qualifying for Boston, etc. will keep you motivated.

Whatever your unsatisfied needs are, knowing yourself and your desires will help you to remain motivated to run or exercise. Go on now, take the test and use that knowledge to motivate yourself and make yourself a happier you. (After you take the test, stayed tuned for more to come on goal setting and creating training plans.)

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. – Tao Te Ching

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  • Coach Jenn
    December 13, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Nice post. I'll need to take the test for myself. Luckily, motivation has been pretty good for me lately.

  • Coach Jenn
    December 13, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Nice post. I'll need to take the test for myself. Luckily, motivation has been pretty good for me lately.

  • He Said, She Said – What’s the SAID Principle? | Lazy Mama Fitness
    January 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    […] and eating “right”. Armed with some knowledge about SMART goal setting, and using Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs to determine what motivates me, from some posts I wrote, I developed a goal to lose weight by […]

  • SuburbHouseWife
    February 8, 2010 at 9:43 pm

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  • SuburbHouseWife
    February 8, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    ah man, I was hoping to put results in comment box…lol o well. love the post

    July 25, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Great post. It’s so often that people ask how to stay motivated, doesn’t matter what motivates me, what motivates YOU!

    • Janice - The Fitness Cheerleader
      July 25, 2010 at 6:34 pm

      Exactly! We all do it for different reasons. Some like the challenge of races, some prefer yoga or pilates, and some enjoy the camaraderie from sports. I find my motivation is always changing.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      All the best,

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