By JP Sears, Holistic Coach

Do you know how to continuously fuel your health and fitness efforts with passionate motivation from within? Or do you only know how to rely on the encouragement of others be they friends, coaches, or trainers? Would you believe that the only source of motivation that can truly offer enough support, encouragement, and incentive is the inwardly derived variety? If you can open and channel this source, your health and fitness program will offer you progressively sweeter fruit with each harvesting season. If your reach for motivation only extends outside of yourself, are you sentenced to a dizzying ride in your health program of continuously falling off and getting back on the proverbial horse while its feet never move?

While external motivation is a wonderful and inspiring supplement that we may not wish to refuse, many of us would find significant benefit in creating a focused, intentional strengthening of our connection to our inner motivation. Please join me by reading on for a journey of mindfully considering how to allow external motivation to assume its rightful place as a supplement while cultivating inner motivation as our dominant source of motivational nutrition.

External Motivation

Could we consider external motivation to be a non-renewable resource? It is the fossil fuel we drive ourselves with. While our motivation benefits with the initiation and acceleration of it, what happens to our progress when it runs dry? We are perhaps stopped dead in our tracks, which of course has obvious implicatory effects on our health and fitness levels. We have all experienced the rebound that follows a period of inspiration where we feel flat, engaging in our program feels like a grind, excuses all of a sudden seem a lot more excusable. It could be asked, “But isn’t a solution to this to find more people to support you? Get an accountability partner? Instill a rigid reward & punishment system into your life?” Can the shopaholic ever buy enough to fill themselves up?

Only knowing how to rely on external motivation is a natural extension of being stuck in a childish state of mind. A child is naturally codependent. Its validation, inspiration, motivation, and instruction come from outside sources, notably the parents and authority figures. As this is a healthy process, we find it is necessary to grow into codependency for the purpose of growing beyond it. We of course suffer the consequences in adult life if we are still stuck in the childish need for external motivation. Metaphorically becoming the helpless child who’s either begging motivators to become its parents or who is deflated out of a sense having become an orphan are the death sentences for the longevity of health and fitness.

We know we’ve become the helpless child addicted to the narcotic of external motivation when we feel the void that makes us want to walk across hot coals or bring our coach home with us to feed us, brush our teeth, tell us we’re awesome, and scream at us to get out of bed in the morning. It might then be time to look within…

Internal Motivation

Does the mature adult find an intimate connection with their own reasons for staying fit so they don’t become the defiant child rallied against their own health program? Once we become fueled by inner motivation, it means we’ve gone through a rite of passage of stepping out of the childish mindset of needing others to give to us, while we step into a mature embodiment of knowing how to give ourselves those things we used to be helpless about. The internal motivator isn’t one that functions in a sterile environment, rather they’ve learned how to pick themselves up when emotional, mental, and life challenges knock them down.

If we find our fuel source within, we are propelled by a renewable energy of motivation that lasts as long as we do. We can imagine the vast difference between fueling our car with a single tank of gas versus solar energy. Does this mean we develop selective hearing when others in our life offer a voice of encouragement?  Perhaps not, yet we can put the outside contributions in their rightful place if we are inwardly connected. Much like we’d put our vitamins next to our dinner plate that is filled with nourishing organic food, rather than only piling vitamin capsules onto our plate. We might consider the ratio of 80% of our motivation coming from within and 20% coming from external sources to be a healthy and realistic aim.

Connecting with Your Inner Motivation

As with anything else that is meaningful, it is much easier said than done when it comes to being fueled by inner motivation. Please consider the following exercise questions as a way to begin.

  1. What are your health desires?
  2. If you attained your health desires, how would you feel physically and emotionally?
  3. What are the opposites of these feelings?
  4. With regard to these opposite feelings, how could you compassionately nurture yourself if you found out those are feelings that a known or hidden part of you carries?

Quick insights on these questions:

  • Question #2 reveals to us the pleasure we seek within our health objectives.
  • Question #3 reveals the shadow of opposition to our objectives.  In other words, it represents the pain we are looking to escape or avoid encountering.
  • Question #4 asks us to have a consciousness of what our psychological parts on the inside need.  Left unacknowledged, these inside parts would likely be left only looking to the outside world to provide enough of what they need.

By knowing the pleasure we seek and the simultaneous pain we wish to escape, the actual quest of our health objectives is realized through a fuller illumination. It is a steep challenge to support self if we don’t know the ways in which we need support. By understanding the deeper nature of our health objectives we are more apt to know what we need, which is perhaps a prerequisite of being able to fulfill those needs from within.


External motivation is an easy fuel to come by, albeit a short lived one at that. If we can notice our dependency on our external motivators we can then choose to mature into a more challenging, yet sustainable, relationship with motivation by reaching within for it. Considering the story of the pleasure we seek and the pain we wish to escape that is subliminally written into our health objectives gives us the awareness to know how we need to support our inner parts. Additionally, we are then able to develop an intimate connection with the reasons we have behind our health program for the purpose of allowing the passion of motivation to flow from within.

About the Author

JP Sears is a Holistic Health Coach in San Diego, CA. His one-on-one client practice specializes in holistic emotional healing and resolving self-sabotage issues. JP regularly facilitates classes and workshops nationally and internationally on a variety of healing and health topics while being widely acclaimed for his heartfelt and dynamic style. For more information on upcoming classes, tele-classes, or becoming a client, please visit Inner Awakenings.