Remembering our WHY can help us get back on track or stay on track in pursuit of recovery. Every person’s WHY is as unique as they are, of course. But understanding the different kinds of WHYs may be helpful because not all WHYs are created equal. Yes, there are different kinds of motivators to quit (or stay quit.) Knowing the different kinds of WHYs and knowing yourself will improve your experience. Some WHYs are more like a carrot while others are more like sticks.

Extrinsic / External Motivation

If our primary reason for quitting is to avoid medical consequences, we may be highly motivated, but the journey is going to marked by discomfort. Operating under the weight of fear is hard. Motivation that comes from “outside” of us is sometimes called extrinsic motivation. I usually call it external motivation. Other loss-based, fear-based motivators, or extrinsic motivators might be “I’ll get kicked out of my apartment if I don’t quit” or “I’ll get fired from my job if I don’t quit.” In part, because the way tobacco is taxed, vaping and smoking can be really expensive. Not being able to afford smoking or vaping is another loss-based motivator that’s controlled by external factors.

Intrinsic / Internal Motivation

Those are all valid reasons to quit, but consider keeping the loss-based, fear-based, external motivator as a secondary reason to quit. Are there any more positive reasons for quitting? Will you feel accomplished or proud? Would quitting make loved ones be proud of you? Will you save enough money to take a trip, buy yourself something really special? Would quitting prove something to YOU that you need to prove? These are what I call internal (and others call intrinsic) motivators. In a perfect world, we’d do it as an act of self-love. That’s very much an inside motivator! Keep your WHY positive whenever you can.

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