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What is motivation?

In the simplest terms, motivation is the desire or enthusiasm to act in service of a goal. Whether you want to work out to tone up, have decided to cook more meals at home, or are saving up for that two-week vacation abroad, motivation is the critical factor in achieving those goals. It's your spark, your why, or your driving force.

There are two forms of motivation:

  • Intrinsic motivation is your individual driving force. It arises from within based on your personal values and is integrated into your identity. It serves as a continuous source of motivation and is not affected or driven by external rewards or factors.

  • Extrinsic motivation refers to external factors that drive your inspiration, such as expected rewards, like money or recognition, or avoiding punishment or consequences, such as a demotion at work or having to pay a fine for a violation. Extrinsic motivation usually increases motivation for the short term but is ineffective in the long term.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation feed your desire to continue striving toward purpose, your goals, and well-lived life.

What is commitment?

Commitment is defined as making a pledge, promise, or obligation. It involves dedicating or binding yourself to a course of action or to accomplishing a goal. Whether you commit to making time for self-care, maintaining your wash day routine, or volunteering at your local food pantry, commitment is driven by an internal desire and intentional decision to perform specific tangible actions.

Two factors that affect commitment are the importance of or value you place on the goal and self-efficacy — whether you believe that you can achieve the goal.

Similarities of and differences between motivation and commitment