What Is Self-Motivation? – Definition and Examples to Guide You
Self-motivation is your ability to find enthusiasm, interest, and passion for a particular task, using them as the driving force to complete it. For example, if you’re studying for an exam, you’re more likely to perform well if the subject matter is of personal interest to you or you see it as something integral to your education.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the two common types of motivation, namely internal and external. Internal motivation is the one that comes from within, from interest, passion, alignment with personal values, and the sense of joy and accomplishment performing the task provides. On the other hand, external motivation comes from the outside. Think of good pay, status, the ability to travel, praise, and material testaments to your work (e.g. a published book).
It may seem that internal motivation trumps external, but there is no psychological evidence to prove that. In fact, in an ideal situation, you can meet yourself in the middle. For instance, you’re studying a subject you love and getting good grades as a confirmation of your hard work. You can then use your good GPA to get a scholarship or a better job, benefiting from external factors while enjoying the process.
Self-motivation may be closer to internal, but it depends on both types. Sometimes things won’t be as peachy in terms of your passion, but knowing that achieving a particular goal will lead you to new interest-invested targets can help. To use another example from regular student life: Say you have an exam you’re not too keen on. Still, this exam is the pre-requisite for taking a course you have your sights on – that’s your motivating factor. You will sit and study and be able to go on to do something closer to your heart.
We’re all different and motivated by different things, but finding that balance is of great importance and easily achieved through some of the techniques we’re presenting today.
Self-Motivation Techniques – Yes, You Can Learn Them
Learning self-motivation techniques when they’re supposed to come from the inside – sounds slightly counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Paradoxical though it may seem, there are certain practices you can employ to motivate yourself at all times.
The following suggestions require a bit of forethought and effort, but they are the most effective way to get motivated.
1. Setting goals. If you know what your result is, you know how you can achieve it. What is more, having a clear goal in mind allows you to make a plan and structure your steps to bring you to your target quickly and effectively. For example, take your studies. Your goal is to be an expert in your field of interest, e.g. a doctor. The road to greatness is rocky, but knowing what awaits you should motivate you when those boulders start tumbling towards you.
2. Reward systems. To counter intrinsic motivation, you can set up a reward system for every achievement you make. It may be small things, like treating yourself to a lovely chocolate cake in a more expensive café or arranging a short trip out of town to unwind. To be honest, my travel plans keep me going through less pleasurable days of my studies and work.
3. Listening to your needs. You know about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, ranging from basic (hunger, thirst, rest) to more complex (self-actualisation). You have to fulfil your basic needs in order to work on higher levels. To motivate yourself, you have to work with the pyramid. Consider what finishing a certain task would mean to you. Would you feel more self-confident? Could it bring you greater social acceptance? Will it lead you to understand yourself better and empower you to do better?
4. Neurolinguistic programming. Ugh, long and complex words – easy execution. There is a trend in neurolinguistics that you can rewire your brain to perceive the world differently. Departing from the ‘language shapes perception’ idea, it will be easier to get motivated if you can frame any task as something positive. Instead of thinking about how you have to do something, you can consider what you get by doing it.
5. Vision boards. Moving into easier ways of self-motivation, vision boards are amazing displays of your dreams and goals. You can use any old pinboard or picture frame and paste notes, pictures, lyrics, awards, stars, etc. on it to have a visual reminder of why you’re doing something.
6. Inspirational movies. Honestly, what is better than a light-hearted film about people achieving their dreams despite their struggles? Get your comfy clothes on because we have a treat for you.
7. Music. Listening to music is one of the most basic and energising ways to get motivated. Whether exercising, studying, or just cleaning the house, listening to your favourite songs will instantly have you ‘busting a move’. For particularly challenging moments, I suggest ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ and ‘My Shot’.
Working on Your Self-Motivation Skills
If you’re not your own idol and have no idol at all, it may be difficult to get motivated at times. Still, it is possible to develop personal skills that will push you out of a rut and have you doing that good ole’ bootstrap thing instantly!
- Planning and structuring. To-do lists are a great way to self-motivate. Start your day by setting some goals and writing what needs to be done. If you have a physical list you can see and read, you won’t lose track of what’s important. Don’t overcrowd your lists, though, and only write as many things as you’re sure you can do to increase the sense of accomplishment.
- Time-management. Be aware of where your time is going and how you can organise it in ways that will make your tasks doable and pleasant. Again, don’t overestimate your abilities, or you’ll end up frustrated.
- Adopting a positive mindset. Along the neurolinguistic rewiring lines, looking at your tasks with a positive attitude is more likely to improve the whole experience, even if the only positive thing is that you get to go home and enjoy a great dinner afterwards.
- Self-encouragement. Now this is a skill everyone ought to have. You can’t always expect to have someone patting you on the shoulder and giving you moral support, but you can always do it yourself. It’s time to learn to recognise your strengths and praise them and give yourself pep talks when you need them.
- Monotasking. We’ve heard tons of praise for multitasking, but did you know it’s less effective than monotasking? It takes about thirty minutes to fully switch between tasks (engaging your brain and changing your ‘headspace’). Thirty minutes is a long time to waste if you’re juggling many things. Instead, devote a couple of hours to a single goal and see your progress and productivity increase.
- Visualisation. Practise being able to visualise yourself as an accomplished person. This one ties back in with goal-setting. By imagining yourself having already finished a task, you train your brain to believe that the accomplishment is indeed possible. This way, you skip all the doubting and dithering and can dive right into it.
Self-Improvement – Motivation to Succeed
We’re humans, propelled by a constant desire to change, evolve, and progress. Some parts of that include the desire to work on yourself and improve. Self-improvement comes in many shapes and forms – from increasing fitness to honing your skills to banishing bad habits. In theory, it should be easy to find the motivation to improve yourself. And if it’s so easy, why do I keep wandering towards the kitchen to have late-night snacks every day?
Finding motivation for self-improvement can be tough, especially when the end goal is not a tangible product of your labour. However, you can try some of the following tips:
- Find an accountability buddy. Get your friends on board and have them help you out with your goal. When you don’t feel motivated to study, they can check up on you and remind you of what you’re doing it for.
- Focus on the positives. Don’t talk yourself down – how you talk to yourself matters. Instead of shooting yourself in the foot with negative attitudes, you can focus on your good sides and capitalise on them while fixing your shortcomings.
- Track your progress. If it’s your addiction to social media, you can use some blocking websites and delete problematic apps. Your usage will drop immediately. If you’re likely to go to bed late and oversleep, start tracking your bedtimes and work on your evening routine.
- Take responsibility. As Mr Aaron Burr in Hamilton says, you are the one thing in life you can control, and you might as well consider how your goals and values reflect your behaviour. What you do and how you handle situations is a good indicator of who you are and what you can work on. Similarly, only you can make an active decision to work on yourself and stick to it – that has to be self-motivated.
- Practise being in the moment. Start doing some light yoga or meditation to ground yourself and truly practise gratitude for being in that particular moment. Be grateful for what you have and visualise what you want to get yourself into the right mindset.
Self-Motivation – Self-Love Neatly Packaged
Self-motivation is a great driving force that can lead you to success in any endeavour. It’s the type of motivation fuelled by your personal interests, passions, long-term goals, and plans. Self-motivation is about meeting yourself between internal and external motivating factors and finding ways to stoke your own desires and needs while performing tasks.
Some of the best ways to foster self-motivation include:
- Listening to music
- Meditation and yoga and practising gratitude and being in the moment.
- Setting clear goals and visualising achieving them.
- Making doable daily plans with a higher goal in mind.
- Adopting a positive mindset.
- Tracking progress and taking responsibility for it.
So, what I’m saying is that learning to motivate yourself is the ultimate act of kindness and self-love. Acquiring the skill of self-motivation guarantees that you will push yourself through tough times and have a vision for your life.
Start small, like finding some songs you like and working on your vision board. When you hit a tight spot, step away from it, take a break, and then slowly find ways to look at it from a positive standpoint to see what this means for your journey. Be kind to yourself and go get ’em, Tiger! 🐅🐅