How To Get Motivated: The Ultimate Guide to Self-motivation

The art of learning how to get motivated is easier than many people think. The difficulty lies in the lifestyle changes you will have to make along the way.

Transforming from a last-minute type of person to someone always on top of things can make a drastic difference in your everyday life.

There is no better time than now to focus on your personal goals and internal and external motivation.

Below, we will explore what motivation means, the different motivating factors, and how you can harness your willpower to work for you rather than against you.

Table of Contents

    What Is Motivation?

    We all know the general definition of self motivation. It is the act of driving yourself to achieve your needs and goals.

    That said, different factors can affect the strength of your motivation and how long it will last.

    Factors such as getting a reward after completing a task, how much you want to achieve the goal, and personal expectations can influence your motivation.

    For example, if you deem a reward insufficient for completing a goal, you will be far less motivated to take the necessary steps.

    However, if you want to achieve your goal more than anything, you’ll find that nothing can stand in the way of your determination.

    What Are the Different Types of Motivation?

    In most instances, positive people believe there is only one type of motivation.

    However, the truth is that there are two distinct forms of motivation to help you achieve your personal goals.

    We refer to these as extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation.

    Extrinsic Motivation

    The easiest way to understand extrinsic motivation is in its name, where “ex” represents external.

    Extrinsic motivation deals with your determination driven by external rewards, whether tangible or intangible.

    Some may find extrinsic motivators to be money or good grades in school.

    On the other hand, others prefer intangible external motivators such as congratulations or praise from a friend or loved one.

    Another fascinating thing about people affected by extrinsic motivation is that they are more likely to continue with tasks even if they’re not rewarding.

    A great example is looking at individuals with careers they don’t find enjoyable.

    Choosing a career might be tricky, however, more often than not, these people are motivated by their wages rather than the pleasure of the career itself.

    It might seem like a negative form of reinforcement, but extrinsic motivation can be a fantastic way to keep some people motivated.

    How To Use Extrinsic Motivation to Your Advantage

    When learning how to put your extrinsic motivation to work, it’s important to analyze every situation independently.

    You will want to ensure the specific scenario will include extrinsic rewards that you find personally convincing.

    There are many instances where this type of motivation can work quite well, including:

    • Short-Term Projects

    Individuals working on short-term projects can benefit from external motivators more than internal ones.

    This is because you will be assigning a reward for a specific purpose, which will be granted within a short period.

    • Long-Term Projects

    Even individuals working on long-term projects can use external motivators as long as they are granted often.

    For example, if you provide praise as a child works on a long-term task at regular intervals, they are likely to stay motivated for longer.

    • Lack of Interest or Skill

    Other areas where extrinsic motivation can be helpful are when an individual is dealing with a lack of interest or skills for a particular project.

    With extrinsic motivators, you will be granting small incentives that can help them stay on task and work towards developing essential skills.

    The most important thing to note when using extrinsic rewards as motivation is that they should not be rewarded forever.

    Once the individual has shown they can remain motivated without being rewarded, the external motivators should be gradually phased out.

    Otherwise, you will create a reward-based motivation scheme with no long-term benefits.

    Is Extrinsic Motivation The Same Way How To Get Motivated for Everyone?

    Extrinsic motivation can be helpful in many instances, but it is also not the best solution for all successful people.

    Researchers have found that too many rewards are given to maintain motivation flow with external factors.

    With an excess of rewards, a person’s motivation core can decrease because it becomes excessive and no longer instigates the motivation centers of the brain.

    This is particularly true with children, although it is agreed that more research needs to go into the topic.

    Another study suggests that extrinsic motivation can be helpful in many instances without the risk of overexciting motivation centers and becoming harmful.

    Intrinsic Motivation

    On the opposite end of extrinsic motivation is intrinsic motivation.

    Unlike extrinsic, intrinsic motivation refers to your determination. It is affected by internal rewards rather than external ones.

    In other words, you will experience motivation to complete a specific task because of how it makes you feel within rather than seeking tangible external rewards.

    For intrinsic motivation to be effective, there are three specific things required:

    • Autonomy – The ability to condition or govern oneself.
    • Mastery – An in-depth understanding or skill for the suggested activity.
    • Purpose – A solid reason as to why you should do the activity.

    When put into the real world, it is easy to see how these factors matter.

    People will only be internally motivated to complete a task if they can do so on their own, have some experience in it, and have a reason for it to be completed.

    It is the complete opposite of extrinsic motivation, which is often performed to receive a reward or avoid punishment.

    How To Use Intrinsic Motivation to Your Advantage

    When it comes to improving your motivation style and flow, intrinsic motivation can be easier to use to your advantage.

    Basically, you will likely be pursuing activities you find internally enjoyable simply because they make you happy.

    You won’t have to rely on another source for a reward, and you won’t be acting out of caution to avoid punishment from a third party.

    That said, just because you won’t be getting rewards in their simplest form does not mean intrinsic motivation isn’t rewarding.

    Many experience emotional rewards, such as joy, happiness, or fulfillment, from their motivation core.

    Imagine you’re participating in a food drive. You won’t receive a physical reward for your efforts, but you will feel accomplished and positive instead.

    A couple of ideas you can use to start implementing true motivation in your daily life include:

    • Avoiding Rewards

    Did you know that adding external rewards for your core motivation can negatively impact intrinsic motivation?

    This is known as the overjustification effect, which occurs when an internally rewarding activity is rewarded tangibly.

    Unfortunately, this can lead to the intrinsic reward being completely negated.

    • Putting Your Happiness First

    Joy and happiness are two massive emotions that can level up your core motivation.

    If you have been looking for a way to boost your motivation flow using intrinsic factors, choose activities you know will provide you with joy and happiness.

    Is Intrinsic Motivation for Everyone?

    In most instances, using intrinsic motivators to manage your motivation flow is something nearly everyone can master.

    That said, there are a few things to be careful of that could interrupt your true motivation.

    These can lead you towards a slower personal drive with a lower sense of accomplishment.

    • Pointless Tasks

    One of the main things to avoid when looking for additional motivation with tasks is their meaning.

    Those who participate in meaningless tasks are less likely to stay motivated because they have no personal meaning.

    As such, try to avoid these toxic goals and focus on things that mean more to you.

    • No Recognition

    Although it seems selfish for some, many people work towards actionable goals because they will be recognized by others.

    This recognition can fill you with a sense of accomplishment, which boosts motivation.

    If you are focusing on goals where you won’t be recognized, it could negatively affect your intrinsic motivation.

    • Boring and Mundane Tasks

    Along with pointless tasks, activities you deem boring and mundane aren’t likely to help your intrinsic motivation.

    An internal drive usually increases when you are curious or stimulated by a situation. The desire to learn and explore more can be a massive intrinsic motivator.

    What’s Stopping You In Self Motivation

    Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivators: Which Is Best?

    There isn’t a single type of motivation that is generally declared better than the other. After all, motivation works in different ways for different people.

    Still, some believe that intrinsic motivation can be the preferable option for staying motivated to a task.

    With intrinsic motivation, the amount of progress can affect your internal emotions, keeping you determined from within.

    You won’t have to rely on an external stimulus or third party to reward you as you reach your progress indicators.

    Essentially, you will fuel your passion for having the fire to complete a task independently.

    Intrinsic motivation only works for some, though, especially for people who prefer being rewarded for their actions.

    If you need tangible rewards to stick to your self motivation spectrum, extrinsic motivation will work significantly better for you.

    How To Get Motivated: Must-have Tips and Tricks

    With a good idea of the two types of motivation that your self motivation spectrum might encounter, learning how to get determined is much simpler.

    All you have to do is figure out what reward system works best for you.

    Do you need rewards from an external source to push through, or can you motivate yourself from within?

    Let’s explore several fantastic tips to help you get motivated, whether you need extrinsic or intrinsic motivational energy.

    Motivating With Extrinsic Motivation

    Here are some of our favorite ways to use extrinsic motivation to get your life together and bring some encouragement back to it:

    Getting Rewards to Spark Action

    How many times per year do you say, “If I complete X, I will reward myself with Y?” It is more common than you’d think and is a perfect example of extrinsic motivation.

    If you find it particularly difficult to get motivational energy, you can always use tangible rewards to get yourself up and to move.

    A few great examples are:

    If I work out four days weekly, I will treat myself to pizza at the end of the week.

    “If I get that promotion I have been hoping for, I will buy myself a new car.”

    Encouraging Others

    Interestingly, a fantastic source of motivational energy is if you are surrounded by supportive people with the same mindset.

    Using extrinsic motivation can be a great way to encourage your loved ones from time to time.

    You can offer positive feedback or praise as long as it is an immediate reward that will encourage different elements of motivation to shine through.

    For example, take a friend to the gym if you need a workout partner to keep you motivated.

    Praise their accomplishments, which will keep them active with their workout regime. In turn, they will also motivate you to think about how to improve your personal life.

    Using Punishment to Your Advantage

    At first, using punishment for your self-sustaining motivation engine may seem strange. However, doing it subtly can be a fantastic motivator when used the right way.

    You have likely encountered a situation where punishment was an extrinsic motivator for you to complete a task.

    For example, students who need to finish a paper so as not to receive a failing mark are using punishment to their advantage.

    The fear of failing (the punishment) motivates them to work towards their achievable goal.

    Another great example is your health.

    Some individuals say to themselves, “If I don’t start eating healthy now, my heart won’t be healthy later.

    As a result, they might start a healthier (albeit less tasty) diet instead of suffering from serious health issues in the future.

    Motivating With Intrinsic Motivation

    Depending on your personality, you may find that motivating with intrinsic motivation is simpler than with extrinsic motivators.

    Using your self-motivation techniques, you could be well on your way to finding the meaning of life and accomplishing all of your goals.

    Luckily, there are several great ways you can use intrinsic motivation to get you going.

    Satisfying Your Basic Needs

    The first and arguably best way to maximize the power of intrinsic motivation is to focus on satisfying your basic psychological needs.

    You will want to refer back to the three primary tenets of intrinsic motivation (autonomy, mastery, and living with purpose).

    By focusing on each of these elements, you will find that motivation will become one of the simpler actions you perform daily.

    When you are able to have a say in your tasks (autonomy), it becomes much easier to stay motivated.

    People looking to deepen a connection or improve their skills (mastery) are more likely to stay connected to a task.

    Those who already have the skills and opportunity to succeed are innately motivated toward success.

    Finding a Connection

    Being connected to the activity you are working on is one of the utmost things needed for intrinsic motivation.

    It is far too often that people look for the meaning of life or a happy life without relating to the activity they are assigned to.

    If you are tasked to accomplish a goal without any emotional or obligation motivators, it can be exceptionally hard to overcome challenges to stay determined.

    Instead, it can be a better alternative to search for a way to connect to the activity to feel internally rewarded.

    For example, if you are helping your brother renovate his son’s room, think of the happiness it will bring to your nephew.

    This level of fulfillment will surely fill you with intrinsic motivation, even if you are throwing yourself into very complex or demanding tasks.

    Deciding on Your Legacy

    Rather than focusing on actions to rewards, try taking an approach aimed at the goals you want to achieve in the future.

    Ask yourself, “What am I willing to leave behind? How will people remember me?”

    Do you want to be someone who never accomplished anything or the type of person with motivation and a sense of duty?

    The idea of personal fulfillment is one of the strongest intrinsic motivators. It can help you take a more holistic approach on setting realistic goals and accomplishing them.

    You will have the opportunity to participate in activities with the built-in personal reward of establishing a lasting legacy.

    A few good questions to ask yourself to help get your intrinsic motivating juices flowing include:

    • Am I closer to achieving my goals today than last week?
    • What things do I need to accomplish today to feel better prepared tomorrow?
    • Am I happy with my accomplishments?
    • Is this a fulfilling activity that also brings happiness and joy to others?

    Of course, there is an endless list of ways to boost your achievement drive through either intrinsic or extrinsic motivation.

    The options are endless, from making a list of goals at the beginning of the week to setting up rewards each time you finish a task.

    You will be on the way to higher determination levels and happier life if you find the core motivators that work best with your personality.

    Motivation Stealers: Things to Watch Out For

    Just as it is easy to list different elements of motivation, it’s also simple to find a ton of motivation stealers.

    A massive goal of learning your self-improvement and self-sustaining motivation engine is to consider what can prevent you from accomplishing self-motivation.

    By calling these issues out and keeping them in mind, you will find that learning how to get motivated is simpler than you thought.

    Let’s explore some of the most common issues that could set back elements of motivation and wreck your determination.

    Negative Influences

    The effects that other people have on our self-sustaining motivation engine aren’t anything to be taken lightly.

    Negative influences can significantly affect our ability to complete daily and more challenging tasks.

    In fact, having negative people in your life can lead to setting more toxic goals and missing the entire point of learning how to be motivated.

    Stop surrounding yourself with people who don’t want to improve themselves and support you as you improve yourself.

    If you find you are being held back due to someone’s jealousy or self-consciousness, it is time to consider finding better friends.

    Goal Setbacks

    No matter how much time and effort you put into setting goals, setbacks are bound to occur.

    Sometimes, these issues come at no fault of our own; other times, we could be the influencing factor.

    Regardless, it is important to have a backup plan to avoid destroying your motivation if you encounter a setback.

    Imagine you are trying to save $100,000 for a home, and you have a major medical emergency that drains 90% of your savings.

    It can be challenging to get the motivation to save $90,000 again, especially after dealing with such a significant setback.

    That said, addressing the issue, knowing that losing your determination will only work against you, and staying focused on re-achieving your goal can make a world of difference.


    The first thing you should always be aware of when dealing with motivation is distractions.

    In fact, distractions can also make a massive difference to your time management skills, progress indicators, and motivational energy.

    The worst part is that distractions can come in many shapes and sizes, whether internal or external.

    Internal distractions could include negative thoughts about oneself or the activity at hand.

    For example, “My energy levels are way too low to continue with this current approach.” Or “I’m not skilled enough to be doing demanding tasks or complex tasks.”

    External distractions could include anything from mobile devices preventing you from finishing work to a chatty friend stopping you from going to bed early.

    The fewer distractions you have when learning how to get motivated, the better your self-motivation will be.

    You will have way more motivational energy, helping you improve your time management skills with our tips for personal growth.

    What Are the Best Tips for Self Motivation?

    Learning to get motivated is one thing; staying motivated is another animal.

    If you are worried about how to get motivated, know that anyone can master the art of motivation if they know the type of motivation that works best with their personality.

    With this key in your back pocket, you will never have to worry about running out of steam when doing simple or complex tasks.

    It’s never too late to start improving your self-motivation to achieve your list of goals. If you start now, you’ll have far more accomplishments than if you started later.

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    "These 8 easy steps helped me get out of a rut and get motivated to reach my goals" - Jeff (Dallas, TX)
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