Need motivation for your diet or exercise program?

Take a quiz – discover your Motivation Type!

By Lisa Marini, Brain Health Coach, Omnia Health


Are you on a health journey? Have you tried to:

  • Stick to a new eating plan – but fell off the wagon? 
  • Adopt a regular exercise program – but it only stuck for a few weeks?
  • Adjust your sleep habits – but you’re still staying up too late, with too much screen time? 

You WANT to accomplish your health goal but, when it comes to being motivated, it feels like nothing works. Not the sticky notes on the bathroom mirror. Not the journal entries that are supposed to keep you on track. Not even those annoying smart phone alarms. For some mysterious reason, you just can’t get motivated, stay on track, and reach your goal. Why? Perhaps you haven’t discovered your Motivation Type. 

What’s your Motivation Type? Take this quiz!

The following questions will help you determine your predominant Motivation Type. Grab a pen and write down either “A” or “B” for each question. (The choice might not be black-and-white for you; just write down the response that resonates most.)

Question #1: Let’s say you have decided to take extra-good care of your teeth. You’ve set an ambitious dental care routine because: 

  1. You want to avoid cavities, gum disease, and other dental problems that are unhealthy, painful, and expensive to address.
  2. Every year brings a wedding, family reunion, or other big event, and you want your teeth and smile to look great in the photos.

Question #2: Imagine you have committed to a regular exercise program at the gym. Your top goal is weight loss because: 

  1. You want to avoid buying a bigger pant size every year, you don’t want a bad report from your doctor, and you certainly don’t want to be seen in your swimsuit at your current weight. 
  2. You want to fit into your “thin” clothes again, you want 6-pack abs and tight buns, and you’re looking forward to wearing your new swimsuit on your beach vacation. 

Question #3: Let’s say you have decided to stop eating processed sugar because: 

  1. You want to put a stop to that “hangry” feeling and afternoon sugar crash.
  2. You want to work toward long-term overall health, knowing that processed sugar can lead to dementia, diabetes, and other health concerns. 

Before you tally your results…

It’s helpful to know that there are two Motivation Types: 

  • Avoidance – You tend to be motivated to move away from something. For example: You don’t want to get cavities or tooth decay. You don’t want to receive a negative health report from your doctor. And you don’t want to feel self-conscious at the beach, hiding under your cover-up. 
  • Toward – You tend to be motivated to move toward something. For example: Your ambitious dental care routine will result in a gleaming smile in event photos. You’re looking forward to wearing your new swimsuit at the beach. And your commitment to stop eating processed sugar will contribute to long-term health and wellbeing.

Now tally your results.

If you answered “A” to most questions, your predominant Motivation Type is “Avoidance.” If you answered “B” to most questions, your predominant Motivation Type is “Toward.” I want to emphasize that one is not better than the other – it’s just that different people are motivated by different things. 

How can you use this insight to meet your health goals? 

Do you have a health goal related to eating, sleeping, exercise, or stress reduction? Now that you’ve determined your predominant Motivation Type – “Avoidance” or “Toward” – you can apply this new insight to meet your goals.

If we motivate ourselves the wrong way, we can miss the mark. 

The carrot you’ve been dangling in front of you might NOT be the right carrot! Here’s an example: 

  • Beth wanted to lose a few pounds to get back to her ideal weight. She had a favorite shirt that would fit again IF she dropped a few pounds. She decided to hang the shirt in her closet, front and center, as a daily reminder of her goal. Months passed. Nothing changed. The daily reminder of what she wanted to attain (be able to wear the shirt) did not motivate her to lose weight. This “Toward” strategy did not work for Beth. 
  • Recognizing that her predominant Motivation Type is “Avoidance,” Beth came up with a new strategy. Over the years, she has watched many friends gain weight and drop out of the group’s hiking trips – they miss amazing excursions into the mountains. Beth’s new motivation to lose weight is based on what she does NOT want: More than anything, Beth does not want to miss out on her group’s hiking adventures. Therefore, she placed her hiking boots in her closet – front and center – with a big note attached, which reads: “You don’t want to miss the adventure!” 

If we motivate ourselves the RIGHT way, we can meet our health goals. 

Now that you know your predominant Motivation Type – “Avoidance” or “Toward” – how can you motivate yourself to meet your health goal? 

Here are some ideas: 

  • When you set your smart phone alarm to wake up early and go to the gym, place a sticky note on the phone with just a few words, reminding you of what you DO WANT or DON’T WANT. 
  • If you keep a food journal, regularly write down your goal including what you DO WANT or DON’T WANT. 
  • Put a note on your recreation or sports equipment – hiking boots, bike, skis, swim goggles, skate board, dog leash – clearly spelling out what you DO WANT or DON’T WANT. 

When you gain clarity on your Motivation Type, you CAN accomplish lasting change with long-term health benefits. You CAN achieve your health goals!