Personal motivators help us to set our own priorities around our health and to maintain those behaviors that improve our health in the long term. The Mather Institute examined motivations that affect our health and how self-determined motivation drives our decision making around health (things like working toward goals and maintaining healthy, supportive relationships).
Supporting ourselves more fully. Self-determined motivators are not thrust upon us by social norms, rather they are centered around our personal interests and what we believe is aligned with our own values and our personal goals. And when our health choices are made using self-motivating factors that push us toward healthy attitudes and actions, those behaviors are more self-sustaining than when motivators are pushed on us from others (Deci & Ryan, 2008).
Developing new skills. Motivation is higher when we have a skill set that supports the activities we want to do. See if you have a gap you can fill for relationships, learning, and new experiences and challenges. Increase your motivation by doing things that you feel good about doing. Chose activities that you find fun as well as beneficial to your health. Focus on your reasons for taking up an activity – gear towards what you want to do rather than what you “should” do. Start small if that helps you get out of the starting gate on a new project or activity. And talk to your health care provider or other health professionals about any concerns, so you can set realistic goals.
Understanding how specific behaviors contribute to our overall health and well-being help improve our ability to maintain independence and may promote greater health in the long run. This was demonstrated in the report, where “On average, the ability to maintain one’s independence was the highest priority factor when making health and wellness decisions.”