What is Motivation?

Motivation is one of the most fundamental aspects of us human beings. It is, quite literally, the driving force behind all our actions. As humans, we perform a multitude of activities every single day.

It could be as simple as listening to music or as complex as playing a competitive sport. These all start with an internal force or drive called motivation. In very simple terms, it acts as our fuel and keeps us ticking.

According to Wikipedia, Motivation is the experience of desire or aversion (You want something, or want to avoid or escape something). As such, motivation has both an objective aspect (a goal or thing you aspire to) – and an internal or subjective aspect (it is you that wants the thing or wants it to go away).”

Understanding how motivation works will bring us a step closer to understanding ourselves. It provides answers to the mystery of human action – why we do what we do.

It helps us fathom the complexities of human behaviour. The insights we gain from this can be useful when it comes to shaping our lives the way we want to or influence others to do the same.

Why Is Motivation Important?

We are blessed with infinite potential, the proof of which can be found in our countless achievements over our history. Truly, we have repeatedly done things that were once considered impossible.

This goes to show just how much ingenuity, creativity and drive we all have within us that we can use to attain anything we set our minds to.

Who would have thought that one day, we would be flying in the skies in metallic cylinders or that we would have access to all of humanity’s knowledge in a device that fits in the palm of our hands?

Who could have imagined that we would step foot on the Moon and send satellites to the far reaches of the cosmos! We did it anyway. There are innumerable other examples showing how we conquered the difficulties in our paths and how we manifested, in reality, the intangible ideas in our heads.

None of this could have happened if we were not motivated to pursue our desires and wants. Motivation ignites within us a strong urge to take action and blazes a trail forward. It acts as a catalyst for us to keep pushing forward until we realise our dreams.

It helps us translate our potential into real-world results. Great leaders throughout history all understood this and used it to bring a real change in the world. Great entrepreneurs used this knowledge to catapult their organisations to new heights.

If we want to fathom the importance of motivation, we can simply notice the difference in the way two different people conduct their lives – one who is highly motivated, and another who is unmotivated.

Every single aspect of the motivated person’s life will be filled with positive energy and enthusiasm, while the unmotivated person’s life will be in a sad state of affairs. It really is amazing the effect that motivation can have on us and how it can change the direction of our lives.

Take a look at this fascinating video from TedX Talks.

What Are The Advantages of Motivation?

Whether we look at it from the point of view of our personal lives or from the point of view of an organisation as a whole, motivation can reap huge benefits for us.

That is why large corporations pay a lot of attention and spend a lot of resources to ensure employee motivation as it directly translates into great results. The following are some really important advantages of being motivated that we should all know about.

Increased Productivity

A person’s level of performance is directly proportional to the level of their motivation. When we are energized and enthusiastic about a task at hand, we naturally give it our undivided attention and utmost efforts to complete it.

This is similar to how we behave when we are doing something we absolutely love. We are naturally more involved, which leads to increased productivity.

Eagerness To Change

The world is a highly dynamic place. As they say, change is the only constant. To remain ahead of the curve, we must ensure that we constantly evolve into better versions of ourselves.

This will equip us with the necessary qualities to keep solving life’s ever-increasing problems. If we are motivated about our work and life in general, we will be keen to accept change and adapt whichever way we have to, to achieve our dreams.

Better Problem Solving

When our loved one’s need us, we are ready to help them in any way possible. We go above and beyond to solve their problems and do not rest until we find a solution.

That’s because we are highly motivated when it comes to the people we love. We wouldn’t necessarily do this for a stranger, though. The same goes for any other task at hand. If we feel motivated about what we are doing, we will do anything in our power to solve any challenges that come in our way.

Better Chances of Success

This is kind of an amalgamation of all the other advantages. Motivation causes us to be fully involved in our work and complete the milestones and goals that we set for ourselves.

Along the way, we solve one problem after the other. We find creative ways to bring our vision to reality. Basically, we give it our best shot and before we know it, success comes knocking at our door.

What Is The Best Form of Motivation?

Although it might not be instantly clear to many, there are many types of motivation. The difference can be easily understood by identifying the reason for a particular action.

The source of motivation also defines the type of it. It is important to understand the difference between each type, the benefits each provides, and where each may be best used.

Intrinsic Motivation

This type of motivation involves doing something because we personally enjoy doing it. As the name suggests, the drive to take action comes from within ourselves.

All of us have things we love to do. It might be listening to music, playing a sport, reading a book, taking a nap or any number of other things that we do just because they make us feel happy and satisfied.

This serves as the reason why we do these activities. Since this reason is internal, they are all included in intrinsic motivation.

This kind of motivation also includes all of our biological drives such as hunger, thirst, need for rest, etc. So, it’s because of an internal motivation that we eat, drink or sleep.

Our psychological needs such as the need for respect or love also form a part of intrinsic motivation. Other internal desires such as the desire to make money or establish dominance also fall under this category.

Having the awareness that a particular action is being done because of an internal drive or desire can go a long way in disciplining ourselves. We can make efforts to cut off all those activities that are harmful and focus on those that have benefits.

Extrinsic Motivation

When we are extrinsically motivated, we perform a certain activity because of external factors pushing us to do that activity. The external factor may be an anticipation of receiving a reward or a punishment.

The popular ‘stick and carrot’ theory applies perfectly here. It is mostly in organisational settings that we get to witness this motivation.

For example, we might be motivated to complete a project on time so that we might get a bonus. Or we might be motivated to be productive because of a fear of getting demoted.

Managers in organisations use extrinsic motivation to get the most out of their sub-ordinates and keep the morale high, which ultimately works for the greater good of the company.

Many a time, we are also extrinsically motivated in our personal lives. For example, being motivated to clean our house for relatives coming over.

Or being motivated to eat healthy due to the fear of getting sick. In this case too, the anticipation of a reward or the need to avoid unfavourable situations, provide the necessary nudge to perform or avoid a particular activity.

Intrinsic Vs Extrinsic Motivation

Although we might feel like it is better to be motivated by our own internal drives, the external forces can play a really important role too. Each type of motivation has its own place and benefits and it can’t really be said that one is better than the other. We should use both wherever applicable and enjoy the benefits.

How Can I Improve My Motivation?

It is vital to stay motivated if we want to achieve our goals. But motivation can be evasive at times even though our dreams mean a lot to us. It likes to come and go as it pleases. There are ways, however, in which we can improve our motivation levels.

Positive Self Talk

Positive affirmations go a long way to get us into a positive mindset. We can make specific mantras for different things or general ones that we can repeat to ourselves throughout the day.

What we keep repeating seeps into the brain, and it perceives it as reality. We might say things like, “I can do this well.” or “I got this” or anything else that resonates with us. This might sound a bit unorthodox, but it really helps lift our spirits. The more often we do it, the better the effects.

Find more Affirmations here

Set Small, Measurable Goals

When we feel like we are stuck, metaphorically speaking, we begin to lose motivation. This usually happens in work that takes too long to finish. Even though we make progress, bit by bit, it doesn’t feel like we are getting anywhere.

That is why it’s important to set small, measurable goals which can give us that sense of achievement we require to keep our spirits high.

Take Breaks

The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. A tired mind and body cannot harbour motivation for long periods of time. That’s because our biological need to be rested trumps any other drive.

Taking regular breaks will ensure that our mind and body are recharged. In fact, this can actually increase productivity as has been shown in many studies. That is why many countries in the world are pushing for a four-day workweek instead of five.

Practice Meditation & Mindfulness

Another huge reason we lose motivation so quickly is because of a build-up of stress. Any work we do comes with a set of challenges. This inevitably leads to stress, which can clog our minds with unnecessary thoughts and emotions.

Practicing meditation and mindfulness helps get rid of these unwanted thoughts and emotions and shifts focus back on the work. It also provides us with the clarity we need to complete our work.


A motivated person can move mountains, but an unmotivated person will struggle to put one foot in front of the other. We all have our own desires, wants and needs in life and we all want to make something out of our lives. We also have dreams that we would like to see fulfilled.

For all of this to happen, we need to foster motivation within us. The journey to success can be a long and difficult one, and motivation can serve as our companion to guide us along the way.

Only when we can use the flames of our desires to light up a path for ourselves, can we hope to make progress. Without it, we will find ourselves lost in the darkness of hopelessness.

In fact, many people in the world today feel lost and they just can’t seem to get anywhere. What they lack is the critical internal force that can show them the way.

A life without motivation is like pizza without the cheese. It will be a bland one.

We should ensure that we take the steps that can help improve our motivation and provide the push forward that we need so we can realise our true potential, achieve our goals and live the life that we deserve.

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