The best kind of motivation: Self-motivation

What is self-motivation?

Putting down in a simple language, self-motivation is that force which drives us to do things. Self-motivation drives individuals to put efforts in order to achieve their goals, leading to the achievement of personal satisfaction and fulfillment. The ability to motivate ourselves in order to achieve our set goals (i.e. self-motivation) is a significant skill that every individual must learn & develop.

Not giving up during tough times, pushing ourselves harder to achieve our goals, taking up risks & opportunities, and staying committed to achieve the end result – all of these are the parts of self-motivation. 

Types of motivators

In the context of self-motivation, we motivate ourselves through internal and external means. Generally speaking, there are two main types of motivators or motivation:-

  • Intrinsic – In this type of motivation, we motivate ourselves through internal means, such as having interest and fun in the work we do, challenging ourselves to achieve something, gaining personal & internal satisfaction while performing the task, a strong & intense desire to achieve something, etc. Intrinsic motivation is basically related to “our desire to perform a task; what we personally want to do”.
  • Extrinsic – In this type of motivation, we motivate ourselves through external means. In extrinsic motivation, a certain task is performed by an individual in order to achieve some sort of external reward, such as power, status, money, fame, recognition, good grades, etc. Extrinsic motivation is basically related to “the work required to be done; what we have to do”.

People choosing intrinsic motivators or extrinsic motivators for their tasks entirely vary from individual to individual. For the same task, some people might have intrinsic motivation whereas some people might have extrinsic motivation. At times, people even apply a combination of both the types of motivation in order to get the task done and achieve their goal. 

Now, self-motivation can be driven by both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, but intrinsic motivation plays a major role in self-motivation as compared to extrinsic motivation.  

The relationship between self-motivation and emotional intelligence

The emotional intelligence expert “Daniel Goleman” has written several books on the topic of emotional intelligence. According to him, self-motivation is a key component or element of emotional intelligence.

What is emotional intelligence?  Emotional intelligence basically refers to the measurement of an individual’s ability to recognize, understand, and effectively manage his/her own emotions along with the emotions of other people.

Talking about the relevance and relationship between self-motivation and emotional intelligence, self-motivation plays a huge & significant role in our ability to truly understand ourselves, understanding other people along with relating to them, and achieving our goals in the process. According to Daniel Goleman, there are four elements/components that constitute motivation:-

  • Achievement drive
  • Commitment
  • Initiative
  • Optimism

The elements of self-motivation:-

1. Achievement Drive – Achievement drive refers to our personal drive to achieve something; an intense desire to accomplish certain set standards. This strong desire to meet certain standards makes room for improvement and growth.  The personal drive to achieve something can be viewed as someone’s passion, ambition, personal growth & empowerment, or mindset. There are two types of mindset:-

  • Fixed – Individuals having a fixed mindset believe that either a person is born with talent or not. They view talent and abilities as something that are naturally ingrained in an individual, and not acquired. People with fixed mindset have a belief that our level of skills & abilities can’t be improved and changed. Individuals with such mindset are reluctant in putting efforts for their improvement and growth.
  • Growth – Individuals having a growth mindset believe that talent can be acquired by working on it. They have a belief that one can improve his/her skills & abilities through hard work, commitment, determination, will power, and efforts. People with growth mindset believe in continuous improvement and personal development. 

Research states that those who have a growth mindset are more likely to accomplish things in whatever aspect they work on, as compared to those who have a fixed mindset. Hence, a growth mindset is one of the significant elements of “Achievement drive”. Other elements include being good in organization and time management, and avoiding distractions.  

2. Commitment – Staying committed to our goals is the second component of motivation. Setting goals, putting efforts on a regular basis no matter how hard it gets, not giving up, and staying focused & committed in order to achieve our goals are vital parts of staying motivated, and important skills that one must learn and develop. 

3. Initiative – Daniel Goleman defined “Initiative” as “the readiness to act on opportunities”. This third component of motivation is basically the ability to effectively grab and take advantage of the opportunities whenever they occur. Most of the times, we spend great amount of time in overthinking, fearing, and hesitating, and then the opportunity slips away from our hands. We should learn to take initiative for the opportunities that come in our way, and act on them. But, in the process of doing so, one must ensure that he/she is making the right & appropriate decisions for himself/herself. 

Basically speaking, initiative can be considered as a combination of good risk management and courage:-

  • Risk Management – Along with opportunities, risks are inevitable. Therefore, a good risk management is crucial in order to recognize the right opportunities, and effectively calculate & analyze the level of risk involved in those opportunities to be taken. 
  • Courage – In order to grab new opportunities and manage risks, it is significant to have courage to overcome the fear of unknown possibilities related to the opportunities. 

4. Optimism – Optimism is the fourth component of motivation that refers to the ability of moving forward, pursuing and achieving our goals even with the obstacles that come in the way. This can also be termed as resilience. One can associate “optimism or resilience” with “positive mental attitude”, as this component of motivation is an individual’s tendency to move forward and persevere with the belief that he/she can definitely achieve his/her goals. 

When an individual is optimistic towards his/her goals, then he/she stays positive even at the times of challenges and continues to put efforts in spite of the hurdles that come in the way of achieving the goals. Resilient people have the ability to manage their negative emotions at the time of setbacks, and stick to positivity in order to overcome their negative emotional responses and achieve their goals. 

The importance of self-motivation 

As said earlier, self-motivation is mostly driven by intrinsic motivation rather than extrinsic motivation. At times, extrinsic motivation can be helpful to achieve our goals, but if an individual is not motivated via internal means then he/she is probably not self-motivated. For self-motivation, your motivation and drive should come from within. The inner desire to achieve something automatically pushes you to work hard and accomplish your goals. Your personal & internal satisfaction is a significant factor for self-motivation. 

Self-motivation is an important sphere of life that helps us to cope with stress in an effective way. When we are self-motivated, we enjoy our work, and we are happy as we do what we want to do. 

Examples of self-motivation

1. The student who only completes his homework in order to avoid punishment from his parents and teachers is not self-motivated, whereas the student who completes his homework with enthusiasm & dedication because he has the curiosity to learn is self-motivated. 

2. The man who only goes to the gym because his doctor has strongly advised him to exercise in order to focus on his health is not self-motivated. Whereas, the man who goes to the gym regularly without anyone encouraging him to do so because he enjoys exercising, and loves the way exercise makes him feel is self-motivated.

Tips and skills for self-motivation

One can develop certain skills by putting continuous efforts in order to stay self-motivated, such as:-

  • Goal-setting; aim for high but realistic goals.
  • Good risk management; taking an appropriate level of risk after evaluating and analyzing everything.
  • The improvement attitude; seek feedback from people so that you know how to improve constantly.
  • The commitment attitude; staying committed to your goals and constantly putting efforts to achieve them.
  • Grabbing the right and new opportunities whenever they occur.
  • Being optimistic & resilient; having the ability to overcome setbacks, and moving forward with positive mental attitude to achieve your goals in spite of the obstacles. 

The following six tips can be helpful in keeping you self-motivated:-

  • The learning attitude; develop the attitude of constant learning and acquiring more & more knowledge.
  • Build a network of those individuals who are supportive, optimistic, motivated, dedicated, and enthusiastic. Interact and spend more time with such people. 
  • Develop a positive mental attitude, and build your optimism & resilience.
  • Do introspection; recognize your own strengths and weaknesses, and work on them constantly. 
  • Let go of procrastination, and develop time management skills.
  • Seek help from other people whenever you need it, and build the habit of helping others as well. 

Psychologists as mental health care providers plays a major role in understanding biological, behavioural and social factors that influences mental health and physical wellbeing. Dr. (Prof) R K Suri, Senior Clinical Psychologist at Psychowellness Center ( ), is a trained professional clinical psychologist, having more than 36 years of experience in all kinds of mental health issues and related therapeutic interventions. 

Furthermore, TalkToAngel ( ) online mental health services under him put your needs first. They can help you with flexible appointments, personalized and customized intervention plans all at the tip of your fingers.