What Is Motivation And How To Get Motivated (Your Ultimate Guide)
Why do we lose motivation every now and then? Why is it then that some people lose their inner spark over time, which is the pure source of inspiration?
Life is full of ups and downs, and sometimes the “downs” or failures disappoint people so much that they lose the drive to achieve their goals. It also has a spiral effect where they start missing opportunities and lose the direction of life.
If you also find yourself feeling lost and unmotivated, you can start your journey again with a fresh mindset and a systematic way to stay motivated.
Read on and learn how you can find your drive, regain the lost motivation, and always stay motivated.
What Is Motivation, and How It Works?
Motivation is one of the prime things that drive us to achieve greatness. It is a major driving force in our lives and can affect every aspect of our lives. Our level of motivation is a decisive factor in our level of success.
The Oxford Dictionary has multiple definitions of motivation:
- “The reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a certain way.”
- “The general desire or willingness of someone to do something.”
- “Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behavior.”
Motivation drives us to achieve goals and do what is required to succeed. It would be something that keeps you happy and fulfilled.
Understanding the Theories of Motivation
Research has revealed numerous theories of motivation and motivating factors. By understanding the merits of these different theories of motivation, you can apply the best ways to keep yourself motivated.
There are three popular theories of motivation:
- Locke’s Goal Setting Theory – Motivation comes from setting SMART goals that can push people to make progress.
- McClelland’s Achievement and Required Needs Theory – The motivation of a person to succeed and the motivation of an individual to avoid failure serve as the foundation for this theory.
- Hull’s Drive Reduction Theory – It is based on the idea that when there are disruptions in homeostasis, people get driven to act. “Homeostasis,” which refers to our general health, means to preserve stability and remain the same.
The Importance of Motivation
Do you know what differentiates a confident and successful person from the common populace? It is the level of motivation instilled in the individual.
As humans, we have a skewed view of time. We tend to ignore what’s really important in life and get lured to things that hardly matter. As a result, we keep working in a direction that does not give us satisfaction.
One of the most common misconceptions is that we have ample time and that everything is in control. It is important to realize that we have limited time and don’t have control over everything.
The fact is that if you want to live life to the fullest and enjoy its authenticity, you have to embrace the reality of your own limitations. Once you realize that your time and energy are not unlimited, you can use it as your lens for making the right decisions with your time.
Highly successful people understand that they have limited time and energy, and therefore only focus on things that truly matter. With this laser focus, they can align their time and energy with what they want to do. This is also why they are always motivated and are a lot more satisfied with their lives.
Life is meant to be experienced and not just spent. In order to experience life, you will have to discover your true source of motivation.
What Causes a Lack of Motivation?
The tricky part about motivation is not starting, but staying motivated. Every New Year, thousands decide they’re going to change their lives. Fewer than 10 percent actually stick with their resolutions, and that’s being generous. Below you’ll find many common reasons why you’re losing motivation.
Not Aiming High Enough
While it’s easy to think setting easy goals will keep you motivated, it may harm your long-term motivation. If you make goals that are too achievable, you’ll get bored and lose interest. Ideally, you want to strike a balance between pushing yourself and creating realistic goals.
If you’re used to staying within your comfort zone, you’ll be missing out on the satisfaction of achieving a life-changing goal. When you push yourself, you’ll be able to build unshakable confidence as you crush goal after goal. When you look around one day and you’re living your dream, it’ll all be worth it.
Suffering From Procrastination
If you find it hard to stay focused and get started, you’ll find yourself falling behind.
Procrastination is a bad habit that you must learn to deal with if you want to achieve your short-term goals. Some simple steps you can take to defeat procrastination are: commit to starting a task for at least 3 minutes, create daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists; and reward yourself when you complete your tasks.
Uncertainty about the future is a fear that many of us deal with. It can be paralyzing, instead of taking action, we start worrying about “What if?”
“What if it doesn’t work out? What if my dream isn’t truly my dream? What if I don’t succeed?”
If you have trouble creating a vision, then you’re at risk of drifting aimlessly through life. When you find your purpose and passion, you’ll be driven to strive for excellence. You can start the process of discovering your life purpose by asking yourself: “What would my ideal life look like?”
Letting Fear Control Your Mind And Actions
Fear can prevent you from achieving your dreams. Instead of taking action and moving forward, you might be finding yourself apprehensive due to the fear of failure.
You mustn’t allow fear to hold you back. You’ll inevitably miss out on career, relationship, and self-improvement opportunities if you don’t learn how to manage your fears. Fortunately, fear can be overcome.
One way to manage fear is to look for the root cause of your fear. With deep introspection, you can uncover the exact moment that triggered the fear that has been hindering your growth. This will give you a window of opportunity to communicate with your inner being and find release.
Facing your fear is the only way you’ll be able to become the best version of yourself. You don’t need to fix your problem overnight, but taking slow, thoughtful actions can have massive impacts on how you deal with your inside and outside world.
Feeling Overwhelmed With Work and Responsibilities
Otherwise known as burnout, it places you into a state of depression from overexertion and you struggle to achieve your goals. Burning out occurs when we put our well-being on the back burner to further ourselves in our careers or hobbies.
When we feel overwhelmed and forget about ourselves, it becomes a challenge to unwind and find balance in life. Burning out is a sign that you’re motivated, but you need to learn how to separate work and home life. Without this separation, the lines begin to blur and you may find it increasingly difficult to find motivation for yourself when you’re constantly wiped out from work.
Signs You Have Lost Motivation
Most people are aware that they lack motivation to do what they want to. But some people may confuse a lack of motivation with something else. The fact is, there’re a lot of signs of lacking motivation besides feeling tired and wanting to procrastinate.
In addition, a loss of interest in life could be an indicator of lacking motivation.
Types of Motivation
Understanding and knowing how to use the different types of motivation can help you reach your goals.
Intrinsic Motivation vs Extrinsic Motivation
There’re two major types of motivation:
- Intrinsic motivation
- Extrinsic motivation
Some psychology researchers have associated intrinsic behavior with basic human needs, creativity, performance enhancement, and contentment. When we carry out a task that fulfills our natural urges, such as hunger, thirst, and sleep, we are better equipped with the drive to complete a task. Other times, we might simply do something because it stimulates the aesthetic experience of being in that state of activity, such as hobbies.
Simply put, activities that bring us satisfaction and joy are powered by intrinsic motivation because an internal reward system fuels them.
Intrinsic motivation stems from finding satisfaction from within and doesn’t rely on potential external gain.
If you play a sport but only for enjoyment, you’re doing it out of intrinsic motivation. The same could be said for drawing, meditating, learning, and reading. Anything that you pursue for enjoyment rather than for potential personal benefit is intrinsic motivation.
You’ll find that it’s easier to stick with an intrinsic motivation because you’re enjoying the process rather than depending on an external factor to bring you happiness.
When we are not inherently motivated to perform a task because it does not bring about a sense of satisfaction, we are extrinsically motivated. Such motivation facilitates our desire to attain a reward or avoid punishment.
Not all the work we do brings us joy, owing to its repetitive nature, urgency, necessity, frequency, duration, or monotony. Whether it is dragging ourselves to work/school every morning or working on weekends, we tend to undertake tasks that might not inherently please or satisfy us. Usually, an external force or ulterior motive drives us to complete such tasks. Rewards like money, praise, and fame drive our motivation extrinsically.
However, extrinsic motivation does not necessarily mean that we are unwilling to do something. We just seek an external reward from it. For example, a person might like writing but goes the extra mile to make money out of it.
Extrinsic motivation is working towards a tangible goal that has a specific outcome.
Working hard to get promoted is extrinsic motivation. Playing a sport only to win is extrinsic motivation.
Extrinsic motivation doesn’t necessarily mean “bad”, but you may find that extrinsic motivations bring you less fulfillment than intrinsic motivations.
How to Get Motivated Instantly — 4 Quick Hacks
Before I dive into the most effective method that can give you lasting motivation, I’d like to share with you 4 quick hacks to boost your motivation instantly.
1. Focus on Just One or Two Things
Most of the time laziness is the product of a full plate and no idea where to start. When you try to tackle everything at once, it’s hard not to feel like this:
But when you focus on one or two things at a time, it’s easier to get motivated and not feel so overwhelmed. Once you’ve found the strength to get up and finish one thing, deep down the thought, “hey, maybe I can do this” starts to creep in. Next thing you know, your whole list is done and you’re fist pumping in celebration with all your friends!
2. Change Up Your Routine
When it comes to making changes in life, it’s all about the small things you do every day. If you want to wake up feeling more motivated, you should start making changes in your daily habits and routine.
3. Read, Watch or Listen to Something Motivational
Another quick hack is to get inspired by motivational materials.
4. Allow Yourself Time to Relax and Rest
There is a big difference between being lazy and resting. Laziness has no purpose. Resting is necessary for life and clears your mind so you can tackle your endeavors head on.
Maybe you’ve been working on a project for too long and you’re burned out. Try sleeping on it. Let yourself have some time to rest. Our bodies and minds need rest to function at optimal levels.
How to Gain Motivation and Stay Motivated
There are two key parts to gaining motivation and staying motivated:
- Getting to the bottom of your “why” and having a clear intention.
- Generating momentum by focusing on progress.
They must both work together. Without a clear why, your actions will lose direction and focus. Without momentum, your energy will deteriorate when you encounter obstacles.
With these two key parts in mind, you can start building a motivation engine for yourself.
The three components that make up a motivation engine are:
- Surface – Acknowledgement – The top layer, sometimes referred to as Acknowledgement, includes all forms of external praise that could inspire you. It could take the shape of respect or acknowledgment.
- Support – Enablers – Your goals are essentially supported by the incentive engine’s second layer, sometimes called Enablers.
- Core – Purpose – The most crucial factor, though, and the real source of your inspiration, is your Purpose, which is your innermost part. What sets the motivated from the unmotivated, the overachievers from the underachievers and the happy from the miserable is your mission.
You have to go beyond the surface if you want to stay motivated.
Find the Source of Your Motivation
To get to the bottom of finding answers to this question — What motivates you? We can use a simple technique called Peeling the Onion.
Think of a goal you have. Take 30 seconds to think about it.
Do you have a general idea? Okay, now for step 2.
Fill in the blanks to this statement:
I want [your goal] because [the result you want].
For example, “I want to go to the gym because it will make me fit and in shape.”
Now, take the second part of your statement (i.e the result you want) and repeat the statement again — Peel another layer of the onion.
For example, “I want to be fit and in shape because …”
Each time you peel the onion once, ask yourself this question:
“Is this really what I want?”
The point is to get to the core – the thing actually powers your motivation. As you get closer to the core, you should feel it … it should trigger your spark.
If not, keep peeling the onion — sometimes it only takes one or two steps to get to the core. Sometimes it takes up to five steps! Don’t worry about how many it takes. Just be absolutely honest with yourself.
This goal setting exercise is for you, and for you alone. Nobody’s going to see it. So you can be completely honest with what you actually want. Because if you can’t do that, you’re not going to have real motivation to keep moving forward.
The example we were using above was from a real student, who discovered what she really wanted was the confidence to join a dance class:
“What I really want is to be fit enough to join a Spanish dance class and I’m going to start by getting back in shape at the gym.”
Motivation For Specific Purposes
In addition to all the motivation tips above, we understand that you may be looking for motivation for a specific purpose. This section can help you find ways to achieve your goals.
Another area where people lose motivation is through their work. Where most people get stuck usually stems from one of these four traps:
- Your values are mismatched. A task doesn’t connect with or contribute to your core values. You see no reason to do it so you don’t do it.
- You lack confidence. Deep down you think you aren’t capable.
- You’re experiencing disruptive emotions. You’re consumed by various negative emotions whether that’s fear, anxiety, anger, or depression. These emotions sap away your motivation so you don’t do the task.
- Victim Complex. You attribute your lack of performance to something that’s outside of your control.
Weight Loss Motivation
There are times when you feel like giving up on your fitness goals, especially when sticking to a workout routine and healthy diet is so challenging. Here’re some reasons why you lose your weight loss motivation:
- You’re doing the same thing every day. Not necessarily the same workout but if you’re doing 3 sets of 10 reps every week, you’re eventually going to get bored of doing it.
- You’ve plateaued. If your goal is to lose weight, it can be demoralizing to see the same number on the scale every morning even if you’re working out hard.
- You are working out alone. While being on your own is fine, it can get lonely, and bringing a friend can help you in showing up.
- You’re not recovering properly. You’re going to lose motivation if you’re working out and then immediately going down to a fast-food joint.
- The environment has changed. Visiting the same gym all the time can get old as well.
When you’re facing a big challenge, having a strong support system can help you stay motivated.
“Motivation will almost always beat mere talent.” — Norman Ralph Augustine
Getting and staying motivated will make an immense difference in your life. You’ll be able to tackle those goals and dreams that you’ve put aside for years. You’ll also be able to set yourself new and exciting goals that you would never have considered before.
Simply utilize the advice in this guide to keep yourself motivated even during the toughest times.