Self-motivation is the ability to drive yourself to take initiative and action to pursue goals and complete tasks. It is an internal drive to act, to create and achieve. It is what pushes you to continue with your tasks. The subject of self-motivation, however, is far from simple. People can be motivated by many things, both internal and external, such as a desire to do something, love for someone, or a need for money. In this way, the ability to motivate yourself, self-motivation, is an important skill. Self-motivation drives people to keep going even in the face of setbacks, to seize opportunities, and to show commitment to what they want to achieve.

What is motivation?

Motivation is what drives us to reach our goals, feel more fulfilled, and improve our overall quality of life. Understanding and developing your self-motivation can help you take control of many other aspects of your life. Motivation is an integral part of the concept of emotional intelligence. Goleman (2003), identified four elements that make up motivation:

  • Personal drive to meet certain standards;
  • Commitment to personal and organizational goals;
  • Initiative, defined as the willingness to act on opportunities
  • Resilience, defined as the ability to move on and pursue goals even when there are setbacks.

The elements of self-motivation

Personal drive for achievement

You could think of a personal drive to achieve achievement like ambition, or perhaps personal empowerment. However, it is also worth thinking about in terms of mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe that talent is ingrained and that we cannot change our level of ability. Those with a growth mindset believe that they can improve their skills through work and effort. Research shows that those who believe they can improve – that is, have a growth mindset – are much more likely to do so in whatever area they choose. Therefore, a growth mindset is an important element in the personal drive for success.

Commitment to the objectives

There is considerable evidence, even if much of it is anecdotal, that goal setting is important to our overall well-being. It certainly makes sense that “if you don’t aim for anything, it’s easy to do it,” and that most of us need something in our life to aim for. Being aware of where you want to be and understanding how you plan to get there is a vital part of staying motivated.


Initiative is, effectively, the ability to seize opportunities when they present themselves. It is very easy to doubt, and then the opportunity may disappear. However, the old sayings “look before you jump” and “fools rush into where angels fear to tread” have a lot of truth in them. It is also important to think carefully and make sure you are making the right decision for yourself. Therefore, the initiative can be seen as a combination of courage and good risk management: Risk management is necessary to ensure that you identify the right opportunities to consider and that they have the right level of risk for you; and Courage is necessary to overcome the fear of the unknown inherent in new opportunities.

Optimism and Resilience

Optimism is the ability to look on the bright side while resilience is the ability to maintain a positive attitude in the face of challenges. Although the two are closely related, they are not exactly the same. Resilient people use their ability to think as a way to handle negative emotional responses to events. Research has identified a common set of factors that predispose people to show positive results in the face of significant adversity. People who demonstrate resilience in response to one form of adversity may not necessarily do so in response to another.

Types of motivators: intrinsic and extrinsic motivators

When thinking about self-motivation, it helps to understand what motivates you to get things done. In its simplest form, you can think of two types of motivation:

Intrinsic = related to what we want to do.

Extrinsic = related to what we have to do.

A more detailed definition is:

Intrinsic: Perform an action or task based on the expected or perceived satisfaction of performing the action or task. Intrinsic motivators include fun, interest, and personal challenge.

Extrinsic: Performing an action or task in order to obtain some type of external reward, including money, power, and good grades or grades.

In this regard, people are motivated by different things at different times in their lives. However, the same task may have more intrinsic motivators at certain times and more extrinsic motivators at others. But, most tasks have a combination of the two types of motivation.

The importance of obligation

What if a task has no intrinsic or extrinsic motivators? The obvious conclusion is that it is unlikely that we will, because it will not make sense. We all know that it doesn’t always work that way. There is another issue: feelings of obligation. Obligation motivators are not strictly intrinsic or extrinsic, but they can be very powerful. Obligation comes from our personal ethics and sense of duty, what is right and what is wrong. You may feel compelled to go to a party because it was invited by someone you know; There won’t be any obvious intrinsic or extrinsic benefits for him to attend, but you can worry about offending or angering his friend if he doesn’t go. However, you are more likely to enjoy the party if you go with a positive and open attitude, expecting it to be fun. This adds an intrinsic motivator: fun and enjoyment.

Self-motivation the easy way

Goals are pure motivational power, but something that will even increase the positive effect of having goals is to create a vision board that includes all of your goals, dreams, and visions. Also, having a vision board can help you keep your goals in mind, which is necessary as they will no longer motivate you as soon as you’ve forgotten them. Your vision board should include photos of all the objectives, goals, and dreams you want to achieve and should be posted where you can see it at least once a day. Preferably, you should place it in front of your office desk, home desk or where you need it most to motivate you. A vision board will help you maintain and strengthen your incentive, as it will be easier for you to associate excitement and excitement with a bunch of pictures rather than a list of simple, emotionless words.

Maximum self-motivation

Once you have set yourself some ambitious goals and offered the prospect of a reward for their achievement, you can finally use visualization techniques that will allow you maximum motivation. Visualization is definitely not rocket science, but for some it may take a few tries to increase the effect of visualization. All you need to do is imagine yourself achieving what you want to achieve. Make sure you choose a comfortable and quiet place where you won’t be interrupted when viewing. To increase the motivational aspect of visualization, you need to imagine achieving your goals in the most realistic way possible.

Ignite desire

By offering the prospect of a reward, you can ignite the desire to achieve your goal to receive the reward. This can be most effective when you are trying to achieve very ambitious goals, as it allows you to develop the perseverance and attitude to do “whatever it takes” to achieve the goal. To maintain the effectiveness of this motivation technique, you will only have to comply with these two rules: 1. Never reward yourself if you have not achieved your goal. 2. Match the reward to the goal – The more ambitious your goal, the more exciting your reward should be.

Pure motivational power

One of these powerful motivational techniques is setting goals, as they will help you effectively nurture your motivation and remind you of why you put so much effort and hard work into the pursuit of your dreams. A wisely chosen goal that you really want to achieve allows you to do “whatever it takes” until you’ve achieved it, increasing your perseverance and allowing you to achieve even the most ambitious goals.

However, it is essential that you have chosen your own goals, without being influenced by friends, family and your partner. The inherited goals that your environment imposed on you will not have any motivational benefit to your life, as you probably will not have the unlimited ambition to achieve them. Therefore, it is important to associate positive feelings with your goals, without threats, consequences or limitations. As a side note: the more excited you are to start pursuing your ambitious goals, the more motivated you will be.

You may also be interested in: Reach your goals

Bibliographic References

Fortea, Miguel A. y Fuertes, Francisco (1997). Validez de constructo de la necesidad de autorrealización en el marco del modelo motivacional de las características de las tareas. Comunicación presentada al VI Congreso Nacional de Psicología Social, septiembre-octubre, San Sebastián

Goleman, D. (2003), La inteligencia Emocional. Buenos Aires: Editorial Vergara.

Munné, F. (1989): Entre el individuo y la sociedad. Marcos y teorías actuales sobre el comportamiento interpersonal. Barcelona: PPU, 2ª ed. de 1993


Self-Motivation Techniques

Self-Motivation Techniques

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