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On Friday, July 23, 2021, the Olympic Games begin in Tokyo, Japan. There are 11,091 athletes estimated or expected to compete. My image of an athlete is an individual who is passionate, dedicated, determined, goal orientated, healthy, confident, motivated, and much more. Being prepared for the Olympics doesn’t happen overnight. These athletes had to have such a positive and strong mindset to be motivated to train during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are not Olympic athletes, but may struggle with being motivated at times.

You can lump motivation into two types: within yourself (intrinsic) or outside sources (extrinsic). Intrinsic motivation comes from within when a person takes part in activities for no reward other than interest and enjoyment.

Extrinsic motivation is when one participates in activities or tasks for an external incentive, such as receiving a paycheck or allowance. A person may also be motivated to do something based on pressure from others, such as meeting a project deadline. For example, a person may dislike mowing the lawn but keeps up to avoid an overgrown yard. There are many causes for a person to be unmotivated.

What are a few factors that contribute to decreased motivation? Have you heard of the following words such as procrastination, perfectionism, and pessimism?

  • Procrastination is postponing or delaying something. 
  • Perfectionism is the refusal to accept anything less than perfect.
  • Pessimism tends to see the worst of things or believe that the worst will happen. 

Many times, we hear the saying, “Glass has empty.” It is possible to change our thinking patterns by consciously challenging negative thinking and replacing it with optimistic thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, please take a deep breath, relax, and interrupt your train of thought. Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts and repeat positive affirmations. Passion can be helpful when you might have a fleeting negative thought.

Passions are usually things that we look forward to pursuing. Whether they are our hobbies, traveling, or spending time with others, we follow our passion out of pure enjoyment. It is a little easier to get motivated about your passions.  Simone Biles, an Artistic Gymnast, is a five-time Olympic medalist who shows passion when she competes. Athletes might have intrinsic motivators, such as enjoying their sport, a sense of identity, or the drive to achieve medals. But, they can have extrinsic motivators, such as training with people, mastery of a skill, engagement with coaches and teammates.     

Take the 16 days of the Olympics to be inspired! Take time to reflect and examine your motivation by keeping a journal, setting some goals, practicing positive statements, planning, and assess if a change is needed.

Author:  Tessa Hobbs-Curley, Family Life Educator
Source:  Hofer, Molly, "Get Up and Go" (Revised 2021), University of Illinois Extension.