We all find motivation in unique ways and our reasons why are always different. It depends on our attitudes and goals. For example, some might really love training hard and feeling satisfied by crossing physical and mental borders. For others, pushing themselves in a hard training cannot be enhanced by the inherent satisfaction of training, but by expecting some kind of reward (like a prize) afterwards.
So what are these different kinds of motivation? Is one type of motivation better than the other?
We basically differ between two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic motivation describes things we like doing for an inherent satisfaction. Just doing these things makes us happy. We do it for fun or to be challenged. We associate positive experiences when exercising and enlarging our capacities. Being naturally motivated is important for both our cognitive, social and physical development. We know our knowledge and skills are best evolved if we are inherently interested. The best example (for most of us) is climbing itself.
For me, climbing means being able to switch off my mind and just concentrate on my body – hold by hold, movement by movement. There's just myself and the route, the boulder, the wall. This ability to detach, to disconnect from the rest of the world makes me feel happy and satisfied. In this moment, every day worries seem to disappear. When I was travelling around Europe for the Youth Series, the effects were very similar. I almost hated coming home from competitions as all these positive emotions from the weekends were overwhelming, not wanting you to get back to everyday life. It just made me happy.
Cool fact: In other contexts, it was proven that intrinsic motivation results in high-quality training and learning and increased creativity. Applied to climbing, it would mean that our training quality and problem-solving ability for boulders or routes enhances.
However, if we are extrinsically motivated we do things for external, instrumental reasons. For example if our parents, sponsors or trainers want us to do them. Or if we'd like to achieve prestige or fame. Money is just another extrinsic incentive. However, one has to make a difference between doing a sport for the money only or getting paid to be able to do what one loves doing - climbing whenever, wherever one wants.
Being extrinsically motivated is not necessarily a bad thing. As long as we can choose to be externally driven by something it is actually nearly as good as being intrinsically motivated. What does that mean? If we choose to train hard ourselves to become stronger and get better results, our choice is then independent and autonomous - which definitely is a good thing.
Cool fact: Extrinsic motivation, if autonomously decided, leads to greater engagement, better performance, less drop-outs, a better training-quality and mental well-being.
However, here it comes: If we do something for that simple fact that we are afraid of being punished otherwise, it can have a really negative impact on our well-being and performance. I'm not kidding - but there are indeed parents who punish their kids when they don't perform as well as expected (to which extent doesn't matter). Another penalty would be if we are afraid of the outcome of our performance because it would change our trainer's behaviour towards us. For example, if he would give us less attention or find us "less interesting" because we're "not that strong".
So, have a look at your goals and reflect:
Why do you want to achieve these goals? Is it your personal wish - or someone else's?
Are there any benefits/ rewards coming from them?
Can you autonomously decide on what to do?
How can your goals be improved to express your actual wishes?