live it active

Motivation: Creating competition v. Finding the feel good

Some people do not like the idea of competition, especially when it comes to exercise. While I find this very difficult to digest as competition is a major part of my DNA, I understand that many hate being around the ultra-competitive such as myself. We tend to be annoying, overly-confident, and aggressive (you know who you are).

Working in health promotion, I find we health promotors tend to focus on the challenge to get people motivated. Most of our recent programs and initiatives at work have revolved around the concept of competition and while we get a number of people signed up and interested, it tends to be the same people over and over (yes, these are my people and I love them, but we need to reach a wider audience if we wish to be successful).

So what can we do? How can we make any health-related activity appealing to the non-competitive and ultra-cool? This is not rhetorical, I’m looking for an answer…please.

While you write my your answers, I shall share my thoughts on a possible approach. I think we need to return to the basics, to reconsider and refocus on the feeling of exercise (or any health-related change) and what it provides us. For many, the benefit is not in the winning or accomplishing or smashing a personal best, it is the simple act of doing and enjoying. And those who are successful with sustaining a health-related goal are the individuals that focus on feeling, not extrinsic reward such as money, free gym membership, weight loss, or winning (sorry folks, the joy and chemicals associated with winning leave your body as quickly as they entered).

Sometimes competition or challenge helps us to find the feel good. In the process of doing, we figure out this s*%^ is awesome. But we lose many people when we focus solely on the aspect of competition, and therefore, many won’t get to the feel good.

So let’s get back to the feel good. Let’s promote the emotional benefits of exercise more powerfully and prominently. Let’s take a step back from our comfort zone of competition and appreciate that we need to appeal to many audiences – that we need to create inviting health promotion initiatives that speak to the competitive and the non-competitive. Let’s move away from the extreme (tough mudder, commonly known as the electic-shock-therapy-running-challenge-thing) and get back to the beauty of health and well-being.


p.s. send me your answers immediately.


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  1. * Caroline says:

    Hi Morgan,

    This is an interesting question. Personally, as a non-competitive, what motivates are the social aspects and the enjoyment. If it’s not enjoyable, I won’t be motivated to do it. If there’s an opportunity to meet new people or bring a friend, I will be more motivated.

    Hope this helps!

    | Reply Posted 2 years, 7 months ago
  2. * Martina says:

    It’s funny, I was talking to my boyfriend about something similar this past week.

    For 14 years I did competitive irish dance, both solos and in teams. I never really liked the competitive aspect but loved the teams, even when we did compete. My boyfriend and I were talking about why that might have been, the difference between competition of a solo performance and with a team. I think he hit it on the head when he said that even when you’re competing as a team, the main effort is collaborative and cooperative with your teammates. So you’re not neccessarily working towards beating the other teams, but working with your teammates to be your best.

    I found that I worked much harder at practise in a team, than solo, and it could be for a number of reasons. But I think one of the biggest is that I really liked everyone who was on my team, it was fun, I didn’t want to let them down, and they motivated me.

    Team-based activities, to help get people connected with others, could be a good way of reaching the group that are not motivated by competition.

    | Reply Posted 2 years, 7 months ago

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