My morning walks are becoming fairly regular and helps me to reflect on some of my own inconsistencies. One of these, walks I was just wondering what are the sources of my motivation, in recent times and I am sharing this with you today.  Though I have deconstructed this motivational theory based on my need to keep a bare minimum physical fitness, I am fairly certain that this is applicable to all other aspects of my life.

I realize I have three sources of motivation for maintaining my physical fitness

  • Human Assisted
  • Machine Driven
  • Self Driven

Human Assisted

This means my physical fitness levels are kept by someone external assisting me on a day to day basis. This could also mean I am part of some groups where physical fitness activities are undertaken regularly. However I have only experienced the former. Any gym I join , I become a potential candidate for any trainer. When they see my obese self, I think they get a feeling , “OK I am going to fix this guy to be lean or in other words lose weight” (Unfortunately they do not know what I am thinking). Most trainers I have encountered are really pretty decent and competent. They begin with me with great enthusiasm . For the first few days, they would be with me continuously counting twenty to one, one to twenty vigorously, relieve of their previous day’s frustration my making me squat and subjecting to various kinds of physical torture. However in that battle of their endurance test with me, my sluggishness defeats their enthusiasm and they give up on me, and shift their focus to making the fit fitter. I do not blame them at all. It is just that I do not bend nor my body bends. However the days when our mutual chemistry is working, they manage to make me do things that I never thought I am capable of.

Machine Driven

I have had my experiences with running on treadmills with various counters, have been an early adopter of fitbit and physical activity monitoring apps like  Endomondo and Runkeeper.  On days, when I challenge myself to run five kilometers in thirty five minutes and the counters are decreasing, and if I am not reaching my target, my adrenaline goes high, intensity increases and I do manage to scrap through the five kilometers as my ego will not allow me to be defeated by a machine. Since I have had this victory against the machine and modern pop psychology  encourage us to celebrate small wins , I go and celebrate this victory far more than necessary. When I lose to the machine or apps show lesser activity than I planned, I convince myself saying that the software behind these machines or apps are buggy. I was probably one of the few customers who would have ever logged a bug to Runkeeper! and that talks volumes about my tiny ego.

Self Driven

This is a source that comes from within and this is the most trickiest of all sources to deal with. Since I have nothing to prime me, I can easily trick myself into thinking that I have achieved better than what I am supposed to achieve. On a different note, this source is also the most exciting because I am doing  that activity without any kind of expectation and my relationship with the activity is natural. I do not have someone counting one to thirty , nor have a strange lady’s voice reading out “Time : 30 minutes, Distance Covered : 3.2 KMS,,….”. I am in it because I enjoy being in it and the fun is in the process of doing that activity. I start when I want to start and I end when I want to end. I am in union with the activity.

Which source of motivation do you think I employ more ?

Contrary to my own liking, I employ the machine driven motivation to a larger extent. It has no emotions , gives a fairly accurate picture of my activities and lack of it. I wish there was something like this to all aspects of my life. Though it would make life boring, it will play a large role in eliminating the subjective biases.

Which source of motivation do you think I enjoy more ?

I enjoy when I am not monitored . I enjoy when I am not with some machine or app which is constantly hounding me. I enjoy it when I lose all sense of time and just merge with the activity. There are occasional days which these do happen. When these do happen, I am reminded of the time when I used to code, I use to keep my watch in my desk and just fell in love with the black screen/white text visual editor and lose all sense of time. Unfortunately someone thought I would make a better manager than an engineer and cut off me from the romance with visual editor. I surprised them there as well by being a lousy manager. I am digressing and that is a story for a different time. So this source without doubt is the source that I cherish and though those moments are rare, I do wish I can make them repeatable moments.

Which source of motivation do you think , I believe is most effective ?

A human assisted source is the most effective. A good trainer makes a 100X difference. Make no mistakes about it. I was just a bad student. However a trainer like that is hard to find and to live up to their standards is equally difficult.

I see these sources not only applicable for physical activity, but for any activity where I want to possibly improve the status quo , my preferred order would be

  • Human Assisted
  • Machine Driven
  • Self Driven

In my view , It need not be sequential process, but can be effective in a continuous cyclic mode as well.

Also in my view, the first two are extrinsic and the last one in intrinsic and I have always believed what will stay in the longer run, is intrinsic. To paraphrase Robert Frost, I have miles and miles to go before I get there.

How would you decode your motivational sources ?

Does this resonate with you in some activity you do ?

I am eager to know.

Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)