Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Intrinsic Motivation

We recently took a weekend trip to The Great Wall, you can read about it here. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but you do not walk on the climb the wall. Literally! The stairs are so steep that sometimes I had to use my hands to pull myself up to the next step. 

A large group of us set out to hike a section of the wall and I was confident because I consistently exercise five days a week. After an hour of climbing I was no longer positive about the endeavor. While others went on (many of them were children) I decided to head back down the mountain. Oh and don't ever believe that going down is the easy part. It didn't bother me that I did not continue on. What bothered me was that it didn't bother me. Why didn't it bother me?

People are motivated in different ways. Through my introduction into running over the last two years (has it really been that long?) I have learned a few things about myself.

"Bragging Rights" do not motivate me~ I remember when Hubby and I were in Chitzen Itza and he said, "We HAVE to climb to the top of this ancient Mayan pyramid." I said, "Why?" and he replied, "To say we did it." Needless to say, I watched him reach the top from the bottom.

Competition does not motivate me~ This is why I don't like running in "events". I remember when I ran my half-marathon I was so busy thinking how much I sucked compared to all the people in front of me AND how much better I was than all the people behind me. It was so exhausting, much more exhausting than the running part!

The feeling of failure does not motivate me~ Like at The Wall, I did not feel like a failure. Why? Because I never made it a goal to go as far as the others. Although, I did feel a little embarrassed when a friend said, "this should be a piece of cake for you since you run everyday". It was a piece of cake for me for the first hour and that is exactly how long I exercise least I am consistent.

Perseverance is not my strong suit~ All joking aside, I do lack that I am at the end I need to push farther attitude. Which stinks because how are my kids going to learn it? Why haven't I given up on exercise goals then? Well, sometimes I have for a week at a time...but I think it is because  ....

Intrinsic Motivation is what drives me~ What in the heck does that mean? I do know, as a teacher, we strive to teach it to our students. It means that I do not want to let myself down. Myself is the toughest critic I know and if I stop running before the voice on my PRT tells me to I will punish myself all day long. Then I will feel like a failure. When I do achieve something and I tell myself, "I did it! Good job!" I really take it to heart and believe it. Whereas, if someone else says those same words I seem to be skeptical that they are exaggerating. Cynical I know! 

So, what would be the perfect combination for success?
A nice balance of intrinsic motivation AND perseverance!
(And so it is to be my next goal. Now don't let yourself down, Jen!)

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