100 Ways To Motivate YourselfAli Chmabers
What is the Meaning of Self-Motivation?
Above, we explored a basic example of self-motivation, but here’s a succinct definition of the concept:
“Self-motivation is, in its simplest form, the force that drives you to do things” (Skills You Need, n.d.).
It’s the drive you have to work toward your goals, to put effort into self-development, and to achieve personal fulfillment.
It’s important to note here that self-motivation is generally driven by intrinsic motivation, a kind of motivation that comes from sincerely wanting to achieve and desiring the inherent rewards associated with it.Self-motivation can also be driven by extrinsic motivation, the drive to achieve that comes from wanting the external rewards (like money, power, status, or recognition), although it’s clear that intrinsic motivation is usually a more effective and fulfilling drive.
Self-Motivation and Emotional Intelligence
According to emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman, self-motivation is a key component of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the measure of one’s ability to recognize and manage his or her own emotions and the emotions of other people.
Self-motivation’s relevance to emotional intelligence highlights its role within our ability to understand ourselves, relate to others, and succeed in reaching our goals.
Goleman states that there are four components of motivation:
- Achievement drive, or the personal drive to achieve, improve, and meet certain standards;
- Commitment to your own personal goals;
- Initiative, or the “readiness to act on opportunities”;
- Optimism, or the tendency to look ahead and persevere with the belief that you can reach your goals (Skills You Need, n.d.).
3 Examples of Self-Motivation
Self-motivation is easy to understand when you consider some examples that contrast it with other kinds of motivation:
- A man who goes to work every only as a means to pay the bills, keep his family off his back, and please his boss is not self-motivated, while a man who needs no external forces to make the trek into work every day and finds fulfillment in what he does is self-motivated;
- The student who only completes her homework because her parents remind her or nag her, or because they ground her when she fails to complete it is not self-motivated, but the student who completes her homework with no prodding because she wants to learn and succeed in school is self-motivated;
- The woman who only goes to the gym when her friends drag her there or because her doctor is adamant that she needs to exercise to get healthy is not self-motivated, but the woman who likes the way exercise makes her feel and schedules time at the gym whether or not anyone encourages her is self-motivated.
As you can see, self-motivation is all about where your drive comes from; if your motivation comes from within and pushes you to achieve for your own personal reasons, it can be considered self-motivation.
If you are only motivated to achieve standards set by someone else and not for your own internal satisfaction, you are probably not self-motivated.
It’s possible to be self-motivated in some areas and not in others. For example, if the man from the first example is not internally motivated to go to work but is sure to make time for his marathon training, he is not self-motivated when it comes to work but might be self-motivated to run.
The Psychology of Self-Motivation: How Are Self-Efficacy and Motivation Related?
Psychologist Scott Geller is at the forefront of research on self-motivation, and he explains that there are three questions you can use to determine whether you (or someone in your life) is self-motivated:
- Can you do it?
- Will it work?
- Is it worth it?
If you answered “yes” to each question, you are likely self-motivated.
If you believe you can do it, you have self-efficacy. If you believe it will work, you have response efficacy—belief that the action you are taking will lead to the outcome you want. And if you believe it is worth it, you have weighed the cost against the consequences and decided the consequences outweigh the cost (Geller, 2016).
Speaking of consequences, Geller considers “consequences” to be one of four vital “C” words that underpin self-motivation:
- Consequences: To be self-motivated, you sincerely have to want the consequences associated with the actions you take rather than simply doing something to avoid negative consequences;
- Competence: If you answer all three of the questions above with a “yes,” you will feel competent in your ability to get things done;
- Choice: Having a sense of autonomy over your actions encourages self-motivation;
- Community: Having social support and connections with others is critical for feeling motivated and believing in yourself and your power to achieve (Geller, 2016).
Much of Geller’s work on self-motivation is grounded in the research of psychologist and self-efficacy researcher Albert Bandura. In 1981, Bandura set the stage for Geller’s current conceptualization of self-motivation with this description:
“Self-motivation . . . requires personal standards against which to evaluate ongoing performance. By making self-satisfaction conditional on a certain level of performance, individuals create self-inducements to persist in their efforts until their performances match internal standards. Both the anticipated satisfactions for matching attainments and the dissatisfactions with insufficient ones provide incentives for self-directed actions” (Bandura & Schunk, 1981).
From this quote, you can see where Geller’s three questions come from. Believing that you can do it, that it will work, and that it is worth it will drive you to match the internal standards you set for yourself.
We explore this further in The Science of Self-Acceptance Masterclass©