Internal Vs. External Motivation: Why One Is Killing Your Progress

There are two big driving factors when it comes to making progress in your health and fitness: Getting started and staying consistent. And each of those things requires a certain type of motivation.

There are two different kinds of motivation we experience: Internal and external. People who rely on external motivators usually fall short of their goals and fail to make much (if any) progress in their fitness journey. But people who learn to draw from internal motivation have the capacity to generate lasting change and actually exceed their goals.

So what is the difference between internal and external motivation? How can we learn to identify and cultivate the right kind of motivation to begin seeing progress in our own journey? And maybe the biggest question of all, how do we generate ANY sort of motivation at all if we are in the middle of a season of life where we feel completely unmotivated?Β  We’re breaking it all down today for our Motivation Monday pep talk!

And as always, I’d love to hear from you! Are you finding these Motivation Monday videos helpful? Are there any topics you’d be interested in hearing about in the future? Let me know in the comment section here or on YouTube!

All writing and video content copyright Β© 2018 Rachel Elise Weems Woods

20 thoughts on “Internal Vs. External Motivation: Why One Is Killing Your Progress”

    1. SO true. External validation is such a big problem when we desire it. It is so important for drive to come from within. This is such an important topoic to discuss.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very true! External motivators are often shallow and short-lived. We have to find an internal motivation to keep us moving toward our goals!


    2. Setting up a good system for accountability is one way that has helped me kick my butt into gear! A close friend and I sent each other weekly email fitness check-ins. We include progress pictures, body measurements, weight and a little note about how we did that week (little victories or challenges). Knowing I will have to take those pictures each week and be accountable is a big motivator!


  1. I think you would make a great motivational speaker, and besides that, your advice about being internally motivated to do something versus waiting for the “right” moment or emotion to come on, is the difference between being truly successful in one’s goals and failing to meet them. Case in point: I have seen that some of people that work where I do, if they don’t feel like doing “x” thing or even not showing up to work, they don’t, and leave it for the other people to do. However, I have learned from the time when I was in fifth grade that in order to be successful, sometimes I had to do things that I don’t feel like doing. So, that is why I am willing to do things that sometimes aren’t fun to do at work. Also, I have to get up very early in the morning to get to work, and today, in particular, I wanted to sleep two hours longer. People looking for emotional motivation, would have most likely given in to the desire to sleep. However, I worked to keep my eyes open, until I no longer felt sleepy, and drove to work, getting there on time. As a result, I feel happier and more fulfilled in the long run than I would have if I had given in to my carnal desires.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Patricia! Your kind words mean so much to me to hear! You are absolutely right. The early bird gets the worm and the internally motivated person reaches their goals in life. It’s not something we are born with, because I think one of our greatest human instincts is self-preservation and making ourselves comfortable. We really have to be intentional to start developing the right kind of motivation and discipline! We don’t have to get there all at once (taking little steps in the right direction is the best place to begin), but we do have to start in order to get there.


  2. One of the biggest thing you can do for motivation is to get off your butt and do it. That is what I have been doing in the last year in not wander if I did do it or don’t do. Just do it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, but external motivations are also often the most shallow and fleeting form of motivation. They can be good little jump starts to get us moving (which is good!), but we do need to find that internal motivation to keep the momentum going! πŸ™‚


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