top of page
< Back

Understanding Self-Motivation

Understanding Self-Motivation

Finding the key to self-motivation is finding the key to success and happiness.  It can be an elusive key, as self-motivation is a difficult concept to understand and implement.  Self-motivation can be defined as the ability to achieve a goal or a desire without being helped or influenced by someone else.  In other words, you inspire yourself!


There are many motivation courses one can take to achieve and maintain the level of enthusiasm needed to move forward.  It's generally agreed that these courses are good, but results can most of the time be only temporary.  Motivation is like a bath.  We need it every day. 


With a constant daily dose of motivation, you can be inspired to continue your projects and maintain forward momentum until the desired goal is reached.  Motivation allows us to maintain focus on the task at hand.  If we're not focused then we find ourselves floundering and distracted.  Self-motivation is finding a way to concentrate your energy in the proper direction.


Find the method of self-motivation that works for you.  Some gain motivation through religion.  They believe if they turn their needs and desires over to God or a higher power, that He will accomplish all things and grant all things as they're needed in life. 


This is achieved through prayer, meditation and focus.  Faith can be a powerful motivator but even the faithful believe that faith without works is futile.  Faith combined with work can achieve wonders.


Many people are inspired by self-motivation, but lack the skill to implement it.  You first must harness your emotions and you can do this by understanding them.  Realize that there will be highs and lows in your life. 


Some days you'll have to be peeled from the ceiling and other days someone will have to scrape you from the floor.  Self-motivators can deal with this wide range of emotions by knowing that beyond every valley, there is a peak.


A surge of energy usually comes with the beginning of a project or idea and self-motivation comes easily.  But, after the new wears off and you encounter a few setbacks, you begin to doubt yourself and your energy level drops as well as your motivation.  Now, you're faced with the possibility of failure and it's difficult to continue.


The path to success is never straight up the mountain.  Know that you'll meet many obstacles along the way.  With self-motivation, you will find a way to go up, over, around or under anything that stands in your way. 


Be prepared for the lows and anticipate the highs.  You must resist negativity and search for the path back to positive thinking.  With proper direction, creative thinking and reflection you can once again ride the road to success. Be inspired by self-motivation and self-motivation will inspire you.  Each feeds on the other as you maximize motivation. 



What Does Motivation Mean to You?


Becoming motivated and staying motivated is difficult for most of us.  When you ask the question what motivation means to you, it also begs the questions, "Do I believe in motivation" and, "Do I really need motivation?"  In other words, do you believe you need motivation to succeed in your career and personal goals?


The dictionary defines motivation as something that causes a person to act or a method to provide a motive.  Motivation comes with many different faces.  Some you may recognize and some you may not. 


Some synonyms for motivation are inspiration, incentive, drive and enthusiasm. Do any of these look familiar?  If they don't, then you may need motivation more than you think.  It appears some people were born motivated. 


They hit the ground running each morning with a vibrant burst of energy that makes others a little nauseous while downing their first cup of coffee.  Throughout the day, they seem to be inexhaustible as they tackle one project after another.  You watch from the sideline with emotions ranging from skepticism to admiration.


You, on the other hand, could fall in the category of being slow to start and it goes downhill from there.  You could do as well as the other fellow if you could just get started and find the motivation. 


Depression may rear its ugly head as you continue to watch others run the race and finish while you're still in the starting gate.  Depression has been called the absence of motivation.


It's difficult to be depressed when you're motivated; and equally difficult to fail or fall behind when you're motivated.  Perhaps you're plagued with short bursts of motivation only to lose interest when the going gets tough.  This is common not only in business goals and projects but in your personal life as well. 


Most people who are motivated in their personal life find it easy to maintain that enthusiasm in their career.  If you equate motivation with success, eagerness and passion you could be right.  Are you eager and passionate about your daily tasks?  Or, do you slog through them and only see a glimmer of happiness when the task if finished.


Perhaps you have stumbled on a key to becoming motivated.  There are hundreds of ways to acquire motivation but nothing motivates like success.  We're not talking here necessarily about winning an election or first prize in a contest, although that would be great.  Success comes in all sizes and disguises. 


If you're trying to lose weight and the pounds keep dropping each week you step on the scale, you feel motivated to do more.  If you've made a dozen sales calls and finally make a sale, you're ready to make a dozen more calls seeking another measure of success because it's so motivating. It's true that some people were born with an innate quality of motivation.  But motivation is a vital skill that you can learn.



What Is Intrinsic Motivation?


Motivation can be as diverse as people themselves.  Causes and effects of motivation are also multi-faceted.  What motivates you may be totally opposite to what motivates others.

When we finally achieve motivation at times it's short lived because it's the wrong stimulus to produce lasing results.  Stimuli can come from deep inside the mind and soul or be strictly the possibility of being rewarded.


Intrinsic motivation comes from inside a person rather than from an external source.  He or she is motivated by the sheer pleasure of a task or the sense of satisfaction of working on a task and its eventual completion.  It doesn't matter if there is no monetary or other physical reward.


If a person is intrinsically motivated, he works on a problem or job simply because it's enjoyable.  He works to seek a solution but enjoys the trip not necessarily the destination.  The work is not done for payment or reward. 


Some students are intrinsically motivated and enjoy the research and homework for the love of learning and not for the grade they'll receive.  Such motivation usually results in excellent grades.


In everyday life, a good example is a person who works a crossword puzzle, a word jumble or a jigsaw puzzle.  They enjoy the challenge of learning and achieving knowing that when the puzzle is complete there will be no reward other than self-satisfaction, which is enough.


There are cases where intrinsically motivated people do seek rewards in order to make a living or finish a class but external rewards are not enough to keep them interested.  It takes a challenge for a person to pursue money or good grades because reward alone is not satisfying. It's apparent that intrinsic motivation is very desirable, but few fall into this category.  Most students, teachers and others need external rewards to keep them motivated.


Factors that promote intrinsic motivation are basically challenge, control, curiosity, fantasy, cooperation, competition and recognition.  Challenge allows a person to work toward a meaningful goal.  Control allows one to control what happens to them.  Curiosity stimulates the desire to learn about something.


Fantasy turns learning into a game by using mental images rather than things actually present.  Competition lets a person feel satisfaction by comparing their performance to others.  Cooperation and recognition bring satisfaction and appreciation from others to the motivator.


Extensive research has shown that intrinsic motivation is merely described as what people will do just for the love of doing it.  They're not working on the task or job to receive any form of external inducement. 



What Is Extrinsic Motivation?


Extrinsic Motivation is one of the oldest and most common forms of motivation in the world.  Simply stated, when we experience extrinsic motivation, we expect to be rewarded. 


A more formal definition refers to motivation that's derived from outside a person.  The motivating factors come externally in the form of rewards such as money or, in the case of a student, rewards come in the form of grades.  It's the reward that provides satisfaction from completing the task and not the pleasure of doing it.


A person who is motivated extrinsically will work on a task even though he may hate what he's doing because of the anticipated reward.  Extrinsic motivation has been called crude and rudimentary but it's probably one of the most effective types of motivation used today.  It's criticized because it focuses on the reward and not the action.  But studies have revealed that if you withhold the reward the action stops.


Rewards are not always great.  It can be as minor as a gold star or your name on the honor roll.  Students who are extrinsically motivated might work tirelessly on an assignment in exchange for a good grade. 


But doing the work just for the sheer pleasure is not acceptable to that person.  The student may find the assignment extremely boring but the anticipation of receiving an exemplary grade is enough to keep the student motivated until the task is complete. 


Punishments and rewards are used to control the motivation of students with the teachers clearly in control.  When this method is used, critics allege that it doesn't allow students to think for themselves and develop self-determination and inhibits independent thinking. This can foster conflict and resentment between the students and teachers.


Critics of extrinsic motivation say this method is easy but doesn't work for the betterment of all concerned.  When a person is working solely for a monetary reward, their desire to do a good job in diminished.  It's also said that it lowers the employee's self-esteem. 


We see this type of motivation daily in everything we do.  Supermarkets buy our loyalty with point cards, specials and discounts instead of simply offering exemplary service and low prices.  It's the same with airlines that offer air miles and companies that use bonuses and commissions as motivation to fly or work with them. 


Fear of being fined or penalized is a form of extrinsic motivation.  We're told to not smoke or we must wear seat belts and we obey these demands for fear of receiving a fine.  The reward comes for doing what we're told and not because they've instilled in us the desire to do these things because they're good for us.


Extrinsic motivation is based on obligation of doing what we get paid for and not for the love of doing.  But, regardless of its offensive qualities we must tolerate it everywhere, every day.  



Finding the Source of Your Motivation


You know what needs to be done.  It's obvious when you look at yourself or what lies around you.  The work has been assigned, whether by your superior or yourself, and you must get started - but somehow, you lack the motivation to get off square one.


Success can't be achieved without motivation.  Where is the source of your motivation?  Where can you turn for the inspiration that will propel you forward?  We're all different and are all motivated by different things. 


Some are motivated by the visualization of completing the task and reaching the goal.  It could be to get a job promotion and a bigger paycheck, or finish another chapter in the book you're writing, or losing five pounds by the end of the week.  Seeing yourself as actually grasping these goals could motivate you to travel the road to success. 


Visualize completion.  Never lose sight of your ultimate goal.  Know you're going to get what you deserve soon and push forward with renewed motivation.  You know that success is not just an option but is a real fact.  Believe this and motivation is easy.


Preparation fuels motivation.  Motivation without the skills to achieve your goals is not enough and if you know you're lacking something to move forward motivation is hard to summon.  Motivation is fueled by knowledge followed closely by persistence.


Change your environment.  New surroundings often give you a renewed outlook on your life.  It can be something simple.  Put a new plant in your home or office, hang a new picture or open the curtains and let in the light. 


This also includes surrounding yourself with positive people.  When you're around positive and successful friends their attitude rubs off on you.  You absorb their energy.  Conversely, when you're with negative people or drab and depressing surroundings you absorb that energy as well.


Other methods to find the source of your motivation is to re-evaluate your tasks and make certain you're working toward your goal.  Brainstorm and look for new information.  You can do this by taking a break, go for a walk, exercise, work in the yard or relax with an inspirational book.  Using your brain in different ways will stimulate it and stimulation leads to motivation.


Do something for others.  When we do for others, we find motivation within ourselves.  Many times, the way to achieve your goal is to assist others in reaching theirs.  Seek to serve and you'll become energized and motivated when people rely on you.  Disappoint them and you disappoint yourself - and you're not going to let that happen, are you?


Some find a motivational source by talking or reading aloud to themselves.  Keep an inspirational book handy at all times. When you actually hear the positive affirmations, they become more effective.


Motivation comes from many different sources and you must find what works for you from within.  Believe in yourself.  Anticipate the good that will happen in your life.  Never fear the bad.  Do this and motivation is yours.

bottom of page