Self-motivation is a time-honoured and much-debated subject you’ll have heard about from coaches, speakers and more. But can it help you and your business? More importantly, what steps can you take to see concrete benefits through better motivation.

Let’s take a closer look at self-motivation. Is self-motivation truly necessary for accomplishing our business goals? Why do we quickly lose our motivational energy? What can we do to make sure we see our goals through to the end?

Let’s start with the basics.

What is Self-Motivation?

According to Business Dictionary, self-motivation is “The ability to do what needs to be done, without influence from other people or situations. Motivated people can find a reason and strength to complete a task, even when challenging, without giving up or needing another to encourage them.”

This implies that being self-motivated is having a driving force within, regardless of any external factors. However, is that realistic? Can you become isolated from all discouraging external factors? And more importantly, is self-motivation against realism, or can they go hand in hand together?

Self motivation featured image

Self-motivated individuals are not day dreamers, or shut away from reality. In fact, the most successful figures are aware of the challenges, risks, and threats surrounding them.

However, self-motivation is about finding a reason to continue, and believing in the necessity of finding a way through.

Often, maintaining motivation is all about indulging our core urges as humans. Take a look at some of the key factors that drive motivation in professionals:

Self motivation stats
Growth, recognition and fun all drive professional motivation. Image credit: Medium

So what happens when we’re short of these things?

Why Do We Run Out of Self-Motivation?

Our main focus in this article will be uncovering why self-motivation is a recurring theme, to the extent that it is becoming a cliché to open up the subject.

People keep coming back to this because we quickly run out of motivation. We listen to historic motivational speeches and great inspirational quotes, we get momentarily excited and then very soon, it all fades away.

We get demotivated and try to look for inspiration again. And the loop continues. Why is this a common scenario? This may be a frustration to many, that they start to give up the whole thing at some point.

The more obvious reason why we run out of self-motivation is the surrounding challenges, negativity, or daily disappointments. However, this is not the foremost reason. We lose our self-motivation because we look for it in the wrong places.

We tend to be misled by a momentarily mirage of hope and positivity, and it vanishes as soon as it starts.

Where Can We Find True Self-Motivation?

Motivational books, talks, quotes, speeches, and stories do – of course – have some value.

The problem is that we use them as main dishes, while they are appetisers. As obvious as it is, we fail to grasp that self-motivation comes from the “self”.

That means that being self-motivated is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Rather, it is a customised package of reasons, goals, experiences, and principals. This package varies a lot from one person to another.

Therefore, it should be a personal mission to find true self-motivation that can stand the test of time and defeat. Other external motivational sources are good for guidance, they provide experience from other people’s journeys to finding self-motivation.

But at the end, your own personal journey is different, and you should be the one to discover it solely. Do not expect self-motivation to be delivered at your doorstep. It is a process of self-discovery.

How Can We Customise Our Personal Self-Motivation?

But business owners don’t have time for navel gazing. Instead, you want a reproducible framework. Of course, this is difficult when self-motivation is naturally a personal process. With that in mind, here are the steps you can take to fast track the process of figuring out what works for you.

1. Know Yourself

Many of us miss the greatest opportunities due to our lack of self-awareness. We either overestimate or underestimate our capacity and potential. Or even worse, we do not recognize our talents at all.

Knowing what motivates you is the first and most crucial step towards finding self-motivation. Understanding what brings out the best in you is the first step to accessing that extra spark and ability.

How Can You Know Yourself?

While this may take a lifetime to answer because our human nature is in a state of change. There are still some constant traits or preferences that we can discover by observing our behavior.

The way to find out more about anything is asking questions:

  • What are my end goals? Where do I want to be fifty years from now?
  • What are my top priorities among these goals? Which are less important?
  • How much can I tolerate to achieve these goals?
  • What keeps me motivated most in my career? Money, appreciation, personal relationships, dreams, aesthetics, giving back to others?
  • The bad habits that negatively affect me are:
  • The good habits that I need to do more of are:
  • My favorite hobbies and my recreation time is spent doing:
  • What is the thing that frustrates me the most about my job?
  • What brings me down at work?
  • How do I react when I am disappointed?

There are many more questions to add to the list, it all leads to finding out more about your character.

Answering these questions will set up the milestones for the journey of self-motivation. The more you know about yourself, the better you can figure out exactly how to motivate yourself. More importantly, you will figure out how to deal with the times where your energy is worn out.

2. Adopt a Lifestyle that Inspires You

What motivates others may not mean anything to you, and vice versa. Some people wake up at 5am, do not eat meat, and do yoga. This is a great and a healthy lifestyle, and it works for many, however, it does not mean it should apply to everyone.

If you have tried it, and it did not make you feel better, so what? It does not mean that you failed to live to the standards.

Some people are night owls who find yoga boring, yet they are still stimulated and energetic. There is no magic recipe for a lifestyle that will make you always feel great about yourself. It varies from one person to another.

It’s always easier to motivate yourself when you feel good. Exercise is key here. One of the most popular reasons for maintaining activity is to help your mental health, and this in turn helps you to stay motivated while meeting your business goals.

Exercise aids your mental health and levels of motivation
Exercise aids your mental health and levels of motivation. Image credit:

There are “qualities” that we find common among self-motivated people, such as determination, confidence, and self-care. But lifestyle is a flexible dough that each one must shape according to his/her preferences.

3. Take Responsibility of Yourself and Your Choices

There’s one trap most of us fall into. We tend to blame others, or the circumstances for our own letdowns. We victimise ourselves and refuse to take responsibility or admit that we made a wrong choice.

This problem with this attitude is that circumstances and other hindering factors will never cease to exist. There will always be something to blame, whether this is a lack of resources, enemies, or an unlucky situation.

Self-motivation is born from an “internal” desire to go beyond the difficult surroundings. Even if it is true that an external factor has caused a disaster, self-motivated people would rather focus on learning from that experience, than continue to point fingers.

Is Self-Motivation Necessary?

Self-motivation alone will not save the day. The truth is nobody feels self-motivated all the time. It is more of a cycle than a continuous approach. We feel motivated, then we become productive, we start engaging in many activities, finish tasks, and ask for more.

Then, comes a state of energy drought, we feel demotivated, dull, and cannot see why we should continue to do what we are doing. When this wave of demotivation comes up, that is where self-discipline becomes key.

Self-Motivation Vs Self-Discipline

Self-motivation and self-discipline should work alongside one another. When feeling motivated, we have the force of “passion” to run forward.

When being disciplined, we have the force of “duty” to push us forward. We call it “we do what we have to do” with a negative connotation.

But in fact, self-discipline is just as necessary as self-motivation. None of them can survive without the other. When self-motivation is absent, self-discipline steps in. When self-motivation is there, self-discipline retreats.

How to Maintain Long Term Self-Motivation?

Since self-motivation is based on moral beliefs, lifestyle, and attitude rather than momentarily speeches and stories.

Therefore, self-motivation is a long-term process that each individual should design, build, and develop. It is a learning process where your experience adds to your self-awareness and consequently, your self-motivation grows.

Accept the Cycle

Accepting that self-motivation is a cycle of continuous ups and downs makes things easier. The sooner we understand this cycle, the easier we maintain our self-esteem and confidence during the time when we are down.

In addition, it fashions us to act because we aim to progress rather than act because we have an anxiety of missing a deadline.

Prepare the Day to Day Motivations

Self-motivation is not just about end goals, life achievements and the bigger picture. While these are important perspectives, in real life we do not achieve these big dreams overnight.
We get through life day by day, some days we wake up motivated, other days we do not.

Prepare a daily routine that motivates you. It could be a music playlist, your favorite drink, something to read, an early walk, or a challenging crossword.

Do more of whatever keeps your mind stimulated and your body energetic on a daily basis.

Moreover, do not just set long term goals and plans. We live every day, not every five years. So, always keep in mind that daily, weekly, and monthly goals matter just as much as long-term plans do.

Reward Yourself

Everyone loves to get recognised and validated from others. Sometimes we forget that self-validation is also central. Sometimes we accomplish tasks that seem regular to others, only we know how hard we pushed ourselves to finish them.

The best person to know your worth should be you. Reward yourself for finished tasks, after a long productive week, or after accomplishing a huge project.

Do Not Overwhelm Yourself

Sometimes we commit ourselves to more than we can handle hoping this will help us become motivated and finish more in less time. In many cases, this does not end up nicely.

There’s a misconception that the most successful people are the ones that work the hardest. In reality, the people who work the hardest are often the ones who suffer the most. This can include stress, illness and even death from burnout:

Burnout stats
Working too hard can ruin your motivation and harm your health. Image credit:

In the best case scenario, burnout will lead to you losing motivation and failing to meet your business goals. As such you need to recognise the signs of burnout.

Burnout happens when we become overwhelmed, exhausted, or lose focus. This leads to frustration and losing any sense of self-motivation. We have different capacities for work based on our schedule, our abilities, and the nature of the task we associate ourselves with.

An important part of knowing yourself is to know how much you can handle at the same time. You should also have a picture of how you work best, whether that be in short bursts or in longer sessions.

Learn to Rest, Not to Quit

When faced with the situation of draining yourself with work, many of us doubt the purpose of their effort. Many think quitting is the solution. When you feel tired, the solution is to rest, not to quit.

As you rest, give yourself the chance to think whether this feeling was merely provoked because you overworked your mind, or truly because you are not passionate about what you are doing. Rest will give you the time to think clearly and evaluate the situation.

Do Not Compromise Your Integrity or Values

This is a killer. Working at a company whose core values contradict your principles and moral beliefs destroys your self-motivation. Your mind knows that deep down, you do not believe in what you do.

Why would you be moved to put effort to do something that you do not believe in in the first place.

The “why” behind any business is what sets its vision. If you, as an individual, do not admire that “why,” you would not have any self-motivation to grow your business.

Create a Support Network

While this is an external factor, it is something that you can count on in the long run. Your work environment may not be positive, or too stressful to give you any inspiration. You can create that support circle outside work.

This can happen by making friends with people in the same industry, but not necessarily in the same company. Or you can choose to surround yourself with those of a different mentality at work.

Building Your Self-Motivation and Achieving Your Goals

Most of all, don’t wait in gloom for the great moment where you will always be motivated. Self-motivation is something that you should cultivate and nurture every day.

Self-discovery, motivation, patience, and determination are all difficult qualities to attain, so don’t expect the journey to end overnight.

However, every little step counts, and should be enjoyed and celebrated. That is what makes it worthy and enjoyable.

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