The Self Motivation Definition and How It Will Help You

self motivation definition

You need to be 100% clear on the self motivation definition if you're ever going to achieve it. 

Most self motivation definitions you find out there miss the mark. They talk about the ability to find strength within yourself, without help from anyone. True, but where does that strength come from?

True self-motivation is being motivated by what you REALLY want. That may seem like oversimplifying it, but it's not.


What Is Self Motivation?

It's about what you truly want. A lot of us think we know what we want, but we really don't. So we find ourselves motivated by the wrong things.

Here's an example. Let's take a look at reasons you may go to medical school:

  • I'm good at science: Wrong motivation
  • Doctors make good money: Wrong motivation
  • My parents were both doctors: Even worse
  • I love how it feels to help people: The right motivation

But what's wrong with the first three reasons? They're perfectly legitimate, and people make decisions based on that thinking every day, right?

Self Motivation Definition and External Motivation Definition 

What's the difference between external motivation and self-motivation?

Frances McIntosh of wrote, "External motivation often shows up in the form of a reward, such as money, fame, grades, or praise. 

"Internal motivation is driven by our innate psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and psychological relatedness. Basically, this means we like to feel we are good at something, are making a difference and enjoy being self-directed and connected to others."

Most unhappy people are guided through our day-to-day by external motivations.

The alarm clock goes off.

They roll over in disdain for being awoken from a restful place.

They then remind themselves they need money to pay the rent. And work is the place that gets them the money, so they get up, shower, and start the day.

However, if you’re self-motivated, you’re not going through your day to pay the rent, you’re chasing something bigger. So the alarm goes off in the morning and you’re ready to go. You’re not dragged out of bed by something external. You want to get up to chase that feeling.

Which of these mornings would you rather have?

Self Motivation and Adversity

One of the signs that you really know what you want is that you don’t let anything get in your way.

When you only know what you don’t want, your intentions aren’t focused. You’re floundering a bit. When you are focused, you respond better to adversity.

Let’s say you want to be a firefighter. Or so you think. You feel like it’s something you could do, and would probably enjoy. And the pay and benefits are pretty good, right? A noble career, for sure.

But then you find out the tuition to study to be a firefighter is over $20,000. Suddenly being a firefighter gets a big “meh” and you decide that’s not for you.

That’s because your motivation to become a firefighter had best intentions, but was ultimately superficial in nature. But, if becoming a firefighter was your dream and you had a burning (sorry, couldn’t stop the pun) desire to be a firefighter, the cost wouldn’t have been an issue.

You would have stayed up all night Googling for scholarships or bursaries. Or you would have made an appointment to get a loan, or have done something to make sure money wasn’t going to stop you from reaching your goal.

And if another hurdle came up, you’d deal with it too.

How to Stay Self Motivated

Now that you know the proper self motivation definition, you can pursue it. And that means taking care of yourself along the way.

Even when you're self-motivated, you're not invincible. You need to take certain steps to make sure this fire never goes out and keeps burning as brightly as it is right now. 

Here are a few things you can do.

Reward Yourself

Your reward can't just come at the end. You need to reward yourself along the way for your hard work.  It's not only a proven self-care technique, it also changes the chemistry of our brains to maintain motivation.

Elle Kaplan wrote a great piece at CNBC, where she explained, "In a study that compared motivated people's brains to lazy people's brains, dopamine levels in a certain area of the brain played a large role in people's ability to be self-motivated.

"Turns out dopamine is released in anticipation of a reward, and rewarding yourself for accomplishments can help you stay on track."

You bet on yourself and you won. So enjoy the winnings.

Surround Yourself with the Right People

Being around other self-motivated people is huge. You need to share your triumphs and struggles with people who are also pushed by internal motivation. So find a mentor or group of people. Their support and advice can push you forward.

Gerard Adams of put it well when he wrote, "Success doesn’t occur in a vacuum. In reality, there are a number of factors that lead to the success of an entrepreneur."

"Hard work and drive are always necessary for entrepreneurial success, but your personal improvement leading up to your success can be greatly driven by other people."

If your friends are motivated by external influences, they may not get it. Their complaints may not get much more complex than, "Yeah, work sucks." They'll think you're crazy for working as late as you do. But self-motivated people will get it.

Surround yourself with people who are always doing things; not people who are always talking about doing things. The latter try something and give up, because of the reasons we discussed above in the Self Motivation and Adversity section.

Motivate and Succeed 

You're now armed with more than just an accurate self motivation definition. You've got an understanding of what you need to do to become truly self-motivated, and how to pursue your goals.

We hope you've found this article helpful. If you're ready to take the next step, we would love to help you find your true motivation. So please feel free to click here to learn about our self-improvement program.

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