Know Thyself

Posted by Filed Under: Inspiration & Motivation

new dayIt is often said that it takes 30 days to form a pattern and 90 days to form a habit, but as Jim Ryun says, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

So how do you get motivated to do things like run and keep to a training schedule? Then, what keeps you motivated?

We all know motivation is entirely personal. What motivates one individual won’t necessarily motivate another. The real key is to understand what motivates you based on your own unique set of desires. Once you understand your own desires, you can set goals based on those desires. These goals will help to keep you motivated.

Now you’re asking yourself—what motivates me? How do I know what my desires are? This is where Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can assist you. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is often depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels: the four lower levels are grouped together as being associated with physiological needs, while the top level is termed growth needs associated with psychological needs. Maslow’s theory is that motivation is driven by the existence of unsatisfied needs. So what are your unsatisfied needs? Well, you can find out by taking this 36 question simple online test:

I took the test and here are my results:

Maslow Inventory Results

Physiological Needs (14%) you appear to have everything you need to survive physically.

Safety Needs (14%) you appear to have a very secure environment.

Love Needs (67%) you appear to be unhappy with the quality of your social connections.

Esteem Needs (54%) you appear to have a medium level of skill competence.

Self-Actualization (41%) you appear to have an average level of individual development.


From this we can see that my unsatisfied need is LOVE. Based on that, I can assume that joining a running group or running regularly with a friend would motivate me and satisfy that need.

Here are some motivational goals and activities based on each unsatisfied need as set out by Maslow:

  • Physiological Needs: Maybe you are sick? Battling an illness? Injured? Feeling unhealthy? Motivational goals that center around feeling healthy would work best i.e., running to lose some weight, lower your resting heart rate, decrease your blood pressure, following a rehab plan for an injury, etc.
  • Safety Needs: Maybe your life is in an uncontrolled state right now—you feel like things are out of your control. Why not satisfy that need by using a structured training plan to regain some control and a feeling of safety?
  • Love Needs: When love needs are not met, running with a friend, a partner, a pet or a running club can be very motivating.
  • Esteem Needs: Accomplishing something that is impressive to others will be motivating to those with unfulfilled self-esteem needs. Maybe you’ve been running 5Ks? Try for a more impressive distance or finishing time to motivate yourself.
  • Self-Actualization: According to the Wikipedia entry on self-actualization, this is the “instinctual need of humans to make the most of their abilities and to strive to be the best they can. Working toward fulfilling our potential, toward becoming all that we are capable of becoming.” Creating a training plan that focuses on running your best race, qualifying for Boston, etc. will keep you motivated.

Whatever your unsatisfied needs are, knowing yourself and your desires will help you to remain motivated to run or exercise. Go on now, take the test and use that knowledge to motivate yourself and make yourself a happier you. (After you take the test, stayed tuned for more to come on goal setting and creating training plans.)

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. — Tao Te Ching

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk

About Janice Smith

Janice is a 30-something wife, mother, employee, runner, softball player, internet addict and a completely obsessed New Kids On The Block fan.w She has two daughters, 3 year old Sierra and 1 year old Brooke. She lives near Toronto, ON Canada and has just recently returned to running after having her second darling daughter. You can follow her journey back into running, and her journey through motherhood on her blog: Mom On The Run

  1. chelle on May 29th at 8:12 am

    Wow 90 days. I have 30 days under my belt now. I am nto sure why this time is different but I am really committed to learning to run.

    Great article!

    chelle’s last blog post..My Attempt at Clarifying

  2. Barbara Ling on May 29th at 8:40 am

    My favorite motivational needs centers around my family; I started my get-healthy regime knowing that it would keep me alive long enough to see my kids grow and start their families too (I’ve lost 50+ pounds these past 17 months).

    Exercise has been a habit now for at least 16 months….I don’t see that changing any time soon.

    Data points,


    Barbara Ling’s last blog post..Gourmet Blogger Breakfast – Iberico ham, Grana Padano cheese and …

  3. Lisa on May 29th at 1:42 pm

    Forget Day 90I need to get myself to Day 1!

    Lisa’s last blog post..I’m still alive… barely!

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  6. Rosie Dawson on November 29th at 5:50 am

    Music is a massive motivator…i just love to listen to tunes while i run! And running alone is a huge thing for me too, i just love getting that headspace and totally zoning out. Focusing on myself, body and mind Check out for a very motivational site for those who like running and exercising alone but still need motivation and inspiration from communities.