Text image: The Key to Motivation and Success

The Key to Motivation and Success

all or nothing autonomy behavior change brain science change coaching evidence based fixed mindset growth mindset intrinsic motivation mindset coach psychology research Mar 25, 2022

Autonomy, relatedness, and competence are THE BIG THREE things that you should focus on for motivation and success⁣. 

If you or your clients aren’t getting these basic needs met, things like behavior change, goal achievement, and overall well-being will be difficult to obtain.⁣

These needs are based on Self Determination Theory, which has been part of psychological research forever (since the 1980s) and explains what our human brain needs to make lifestyle changes, stay motivated, and be successful.⁣


Guide Your Clients to More Autonomy

AUTONOMY is all about feeling in control of our decisions and our lives. It means that we feel like we have choices and are willingly endorsing our behavior rather than feeling forced to do something. Autonomy is all about choice.

At KJO Coaching, we have a website heading that says, “Our goal is NOT to keep you forever.”  We say this because, as a coach, you shouldn’t be making all the decisions and constantly telling your clients what to do. 

If you want to help your clients cultivate a growth mindset and lasting behavior change, they need to feel like they are capable of making their own decisions. 


Your Clients Need to Feel Like They Belong


RELATEDNESS is feeling a sense of belonging and value by others. People need to have close, authentic relationships with others. They need to not only care for others, but they need to feel that others care about them too.

Behavior change, motivation, and success can be amplified if your clients feel like they belong to something. 

It is important to create a community amongst your clients and ensure they feel like they’re part of something and that their voice is heard

Clients are coming to you because they might not have people in their lives that are working towards similar goals or understanding their goals. Be that person for them. Be the one who supports them and lifts them up. 


Client Competence is Key to Client Success


COMPETENCE⁣ means your clients feel capable of achieving their goals and desired outcomes. It is essential to wellness because people need to gain mastery and control of their lives and environment.

Your clients need to feel that they possess the skills to achieve their wellness goals. Your goal should be to help clients feel more capable in the gym, kitchen, and life.

If your clients leave you feeling like they can do things on their own now, you did your job. 

Clients that are super dependent on their coach aren’t confident in their abilities and are less likely to be successful in the long term. They are more likely to struggle with a fixed mindset. 


Intrinsic Motivation Leads to Greater Success

Feeling in charge, connected, and capable is essential for producing intrinsic motivation (the “best” kind of motivation⁣).⁣ Intrinsic goals are based on psychological needs and are personally fulfilling or satisfying. These are the goals your client is more likely to achieve.

How well your client’s health and fitness goals meet their intrinsic needs will determine their ability to be successful with them and maintain them long-term (Teixeira et al., 2012)⁣.


What Happens When Needs Aren’t Met?⁣

Research shows that we create substitutes or compensatory behaviors to make up for unmet needs, and the results aren’t pretty.⁣

Unmet needs can result in emotional distress⁣ and excessive or uncontrolled eating⁣ (Heatherton & Baumeister, 1991)⁣.

Further research shows that unmet needs can lead to rigid behaviors⁣ and shame when ultra-high or inflexible standards can’t be achieved (Verstuyf et al., 2012)⁣.

Not to mention, clients with unmet needs have a stronger urge to eat and/or develop binge eating behaviors⁣. They also lack goal progress and can develop mental health concerns (Schueler & Kuster, 2011)⁣.

Obviously, these research examples are pretty extreme, but if your client’s ambitions stem from pressure from someone else,⁣ feelings of guilt,⁣ or a lack of belief in their abilities, then their basic needs won’t be met.⁣

And likely, neither will their goals.⁣ 


Meet Psychological Needs, Have More Successful Clients


If adherence and retention are a struggle, try assessing your clients' goals and game plan with these needs in mind. 

Do they lack a sense of belonging? 

Feel out of place?⁣

Don’t feel confident in their capabilities?⁣

Are unsure of their ability to make sound decisions in line with their goals?⁣

Fix those things by meeting their needs, and see how things improve.

You can start by learning more about mindset and how to apply it to your coaching practice. I developed the Health Mindset Coaching Certification for coaches just like you. 

Throughout this live 13-week program, you’ll learn how to leverage the science of mindset and health behavior change to better encourage a growth mindset in your clients to promote increased retention, connection, adherence, and success.

And you can get started for FREE! Grab 5 free lessons in behavior change and mindset from me 👉Health Mindset Coaching Certification HERE!

Sign up now and get started with five FREE primer lessons that you can action immediately. 


Connect with us!

Email: [email protected]

IG: @coachkaseyjo @kjocoaching



Heatherton, T. F., & Baumeister, R. F. (1991). Binge eating as escape from self-awareness. Psychological Bulletin, 110(1), 86.

Schüler, J., & Kuster, M. (2011). Binge eating as a consequence of unfulfilled basic needs: The moderating role of implicit achievement motivation. Motivation and Emotion, 35(1), 89-97.

Teixeira, P. J., Carraça, E. V., Markland, D., Silva, M. N., & Ryan, R. M. (2012). Exercise, physical activity, and self-determination theory: a systematic review. International journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity, 9(1), 1-30.

Verstuyf, J., Patrick, H., Vansteenkiste, M., & Teixeira, P. J. (2012). Motivational dynamics of eating regulation: a self-determination theory perspective. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9(1), 1-16.

Hi, I'm Kasey!

I coach, mentor, write, and teach with one main focus: Build strong bodies and healthy lifestyles, starting with your mindset.


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