4 Powerful Steps to Build Incredible Self-Motivation

Eli Straw
4 Powerful Steps to Build Incredible Self-Motivation

What makes an athlete wake up at 5 in the morning to train? What makes a schoolteacher stay up until midnight working on lesson plans? What drives a student to study for hours upon end just for one test?

There is something intangible that all three of these examples possess.

Can you guess what it is?

That’s right, MOTIVATION.

What is Motivation?

Motivation is a key element in setting and achieving goals.

Psychologytoday.com describes motivation as a “desire to act in service of a goal.”

I love this description because it sums up the purpose of motivation so well. There is no need for motivation if a goal is not present, and achievement will be difficult if there is no motivation. The two concepts go hand in hand.

Goals are developed out of an underlying want or desire for change. This change can be based around behavior, thoughts, feelings, self-concept, the environment, or relationships.

The condition that is then within us, pushing and striving to achieve change is considered motivation.

Motivation is present because we believe attaining a certain goal will bring about the satisfaction of needs. That is why motivation is there both before and after goal setting.

We are motivated to set a goal and to work towards it out of the assumption a reward of some form is waiting for us on the other side.

Feeling motivated brings enthusiasm, excitement, and the desire to work.

When examining motivation, there are certain motivators that come into play which affect how motivated we are and what motivates us.

6 Types of Motivators

Motivation is a very personalized concept. What motivates me may not motivate you.

But there are generalizations that can be made regarding what motivates individuals. This is where we run into 6 types of motivators: theoretical, utilitarian, aesthetic, social, individualistic, and traditional.

In her article, Alexandra Franzen does a wonderful job of explaining these motivators in easy to understand language. I will try to do the same here.

  • Theoretical: also known as knowledge. An individual with this type displays a passion for learning, ideas, and concepts.
  • Utilitarian: think return on investment. Those who have this type of motivator desire wealth, and efficiency. Not only wealth in a monetary sense, but a good return on investment of time and energy is also desired.
  • Aesthetic: think of peacefulness and calm. These individuals are motivated by beauty, balance, and harmony.
  • Social: as the term suggests, this type of motivator seeks to help others. A desire to eliminate conflict and hate is present among those with this type.
  • Individualistic: think power. A person presenting individualistic motivation seeks prestige and achieving their highest position. Leading is also a desire of these individuals.
  • Traditional: here values play a big role. An individual displaying this type looks to pursue the highest meaning of life through a certain system of beliefs. It can be spiritual, political, or ethical.

When looking over this list of six motivators, there are quite a few that resonate with me.

However, if I were to narrow it down to just two, utilitarian and theoretical fit me best.

The search for knowledge has always motivated me. Whether it be learning new skills in baseball, the weight room, or about psychology. I love to read and gather as much information as possible about subjects of interest.

Utilitarian also speaks to me, especially in the sense of time.

Time has been a thought-provoking topic for me for as long as I can remember. Wasting it has never been something I wish to do. This has led me to become a great planner and scheduler.

The wealth aspect of utilitarianism is also a motivator of mine because I do have the desire to succeed and attain a certain level of wealth as I’m sure we all do.

What about you? Which of these motivators seems to impact your life the most?

What if I Lack Motivation?

A lack of motivation can really get in the way of achieving goals, or even worse, can prevent us from even setting them.

When you have no motivation life can seem quite dull. Without that deep desire to work towards a goal, days can seem meaningless and depression can begin to rear its ugly head.

That’s why I believe having motivation is so important. But, it’s easy to say motivation is important; though actually getting it can be difficult if you’re struggling with why you lack it.

Before going into how to develop motivation, it is a good idea to examine the reasons why you are lacking in it.

Amy Morin outlines 5 reasons why we may lack motivation, if you want to read her full on verywellmind.comclick here.

I am going to discuss some of the ones I found to be the most helpful, along with a few more of my own ideas.

"A lack of motivation can really get in the way of achieving goals, or even worse, can prevent us from even setting them."

5 Reasons Why We Lack Motivation

  • Self-doubt: If you do not have much confidence in a task or goal, it can be difficult to find the motivation to start. Fear often plays a role in this because none of us want to fail.
  • Over-extending yourself: Having a lot on your plate can make it difficult to find motivation since energy is being thrown in so many directions. Ironically, over-extending ourselves can result in a loss of motivation for even our most passionate pursuits.
  • Avoidance: If the task you need motivation for is perceived to bring discomfort, then it makes sense for us to want to avoid it.
  • Lack of passion: This one may be one of the easiest to identify. If we aren’t passionate about an activity, then it is hard to find motivation for it. However, there are many times in life where we need motivation for things that might not be the most exciting for us.
  • Not knowing your WHY: No matter whether we are passionate about a task or not, understanding why it must be done is important. If there is no clear understanding of why then motivation is hard to come by.

Okay, now that the reasons for our lack of motivation have been outlined, it is time to get into exactly what we can do to develop motivation.

4 Steps to Build Motivation

Step 1: Determine Your Motivation Category

Do you remember how earlier we discussed the 6 types of motivation?

Well, motivation is broken down into 2 even broader categories than these, which then encompass the 6 types.

The 2 categories are extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

Let’s take a closer look at these categories:

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is when we are driven by external desires and goals.

Those of us motivated extrinsically usually seek rewards or are looking to avoid punishment. Either way, the reason for performing an action is due to something outside of ourselves.

Some examples include:

  • Playing a sport to receive accolades.
  • Doing the dishes to avoid getting in trouble with your parents or spouse.
  • Doing well in school to receive a scholarship or get into a good university.
  • Weightlifting because your coach requires you to.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is the opposite of extrinsic. Working towards a goal or achievement is driven completely by internal desires.

If we display this motivation category, then the activity itself is the source of joy and fulfillment.

Rather than being motivated by an award or to avoid punishment, being able to perform the task is motivation enough.

Think about those people who love what they do, even without being paid or receiving any recognition. That is clear intrinsic motivation at work.

Here are some examples of intrinsic motivation:

  • Doing schoolwork out of a love for learning.
  • Cleaning your car because you like to have it look nice.
  • Reading for your own entertainment.
  • Playing a sport because you find it enjoyable and fun.
  • Weightlifting and exercising to stay fit and healthy for yourself.

"If we display this motivation category, then the activity itself is the source of joy and fulfillment. Rather than being motivated by an award or to avoid punishment, being able to perform the task is motivation enough."

There are arguments as to which of these 2 categories is best for long term motivation, but I will not cover that right now.

The important first step is for you to locate which of these resonates with you the most. Once we know which type of motivation drives us, it becomes easier to focus on and cultivate.

Step 2: Find Your Why

Once your motivation type has been determined, it is time to find your why.

If there is not a clear understanding of why an activity is needing to be done, then motivation will be tough to come by.

Simon Sinek is well known for popularizing the concept of why in his Ted Talk and then subsequent book titled Start with Why.

This step is very important, so take your time here.

Really think about why it is you either want to or need to do something.

With why the motivation category is not that important. Whether you display intrinsic or extrinsic motivation the need for discovering your why is the same.

Step 3: Set Small Goals

Now it’s time to focus more on taking action.

Lacking motivation makes it difficult to get started, especially if the task seems big and daunting. Feeling overwhelmed can lead to avoidance, causing the activity to fall to the wayside.

To counteract this, setting small goals is a great strategy. By breaking down a task into small increments, success becomes much more attainable.

I do this a lot with writing.

After coming up with a topic, I will break it down into sections. Each section has certain points to be discussed. I then give myself a goal to write a section or sections a day.

Doing this has allowed my writing to flow and by the end of a week, there is a full article composed.

I encourage you to implement small goal-setting into any area of life you wish. By breaking big goals down, our motivation increases with each one accomplished.

Set Daily Goals!

Take setting small goals even further by giving yourself ones to achieve each day.

Setting daily goals really helps with focus and ensuring what needs to be done each day is done. Especially if you’re like me and can get distracted by other activities.

A habit I have gotten into is every night, before going to bed, I sit down and write out my goals for the next day. Then, the next day I keep track of them, crossing each off as I finish.

By the end of the day, I feel accomplished and know that I did all that was set out for me to do.

Step 4: Focus on Your Accomplishments

The last step in developing motivation deals with a little self-reflection. Once we start working towards goals, it is important to recognize all the accomplishments along the way, no matter how big or small.

This can include setting goals, beginning the work, and finishing a task.

You know how good it feels when praise is given, either from a coach, boss, teacher, or parent? That kind of assurance deepens our motivation to keep performing well.

It’s the same concept, but you’re the one providing yourself with praise.

A good way to start doing this is to make a list of accomplishments for the day.

At night, before writing out the following day’s goals, make a list of all the successes of that day. They can be in line with your goals but can also include any other aspect you’re proud of.

This does a few things for us, including:

  • Builds positive self-talk.
  • Improves motivation.
  • Increases self-confidence.
  • Builds a successful image of ourselves.

"The last step in developing motivation deals with a little self-reflection. Once we start working towards goals, it is important to recognize all the accomplishments along the way, no matter how big or small. This can include setting goals, beginning the work, and finishing a task."

Final Thoughts

Motivation is a key aspect of success.

It’s what drives us to wake up early, work late, and push through painful tasks we don’t want to do.

Lacking motivation can be frustrating and difficult. Especially if you are unsure as to why you don’t have any.

By following the 4 steps outlined above, I truly believe you can cultivate the motivation needed to conquer goals and attain the success you seek.

I hope you found this post helpful and informative.

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, please feel free to share it with your friends.

I wish you the best of success in all that you do.

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