Dreams don't come true unless you do -- the work. But many people find it difficult to get and stay motivated to reach their goals. Generally speaking, there are two main types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic motivation comes from within and is driven by the pleasure or satisfaction you get from whatever task you're doing, whether it's lifting weights, taking a class to learn sign language, or in my case running an ultra race. Being intrinsically motivated is fun and like playing; you exercise and train for the race because you want to do it and you enjoy it so much it's not perceived as a chore or drudgery.
The sheer challenge of the race motivates you as well. Even though during the race you invariably swear you will never, ever sign up for another form of torture like this again, once you complete the race -- and you're in 7th heaven with that post-race beer in your hand -- you automatically associate these good feelings with everything about the event.
That reinforces the good feeling about your success and this is why the day after your marathon, you're already searching online to sign up for the next race.
Extrinsic motivation is propelled by earning some kind of reward such as money, attention, or winning a race. It's the reward that provides satisfaction or pleasure instead of the task itself. For example, you work out because you want to look good in a short, red dress and get lots of compliments, which in turn reinforces that your efforts working out were worth it.
Incentives are very important, especially when starting an activity that doesn't hold much interest to you. Extrinsic motivation also leads you to learn new skills to succeed, like running shorter races to prepare for running a marathon.
Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are important. Which one will play a bigger role in your fitness life depends on the situation. Also, they are not mutually exclusive; many times both types of motivation overlap such as when an external reward might give internal motivation a boost. No matter the source, expect a positive outcome.
Visualize yourself reporting to the starting line of your marathon, performing well without injuries, and completing it within the time window you set for yourself. Just this way of thinking will motivate you to try a little bit harder.
Of course, just wanting to complete an Ironman or marathon does not guarantee you will do it. As with any other goal, you have to start pursuing it despite odds and obstacles.
It means still going on that 10-mile, 5 a.m., run even if it rains. You need to view obstacles as opportunities. Instead of skipping your bike ride because it's too windy, see it as a chance to become stronger, so welcome the wind.
As Wayne Dyer says: "Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it's always your choice."
Magdalena is the owner of the "Be Fit Fit" Personal Training and Wellness Coaching Studio (www.befitfit.biz). Her "Be Fit Fit" Blog can be read on www.verdenews.com