How To Get Motivation Every Day?

Where does motivation come from? Why are some people born with a “fire-in-the-belly,” while others never seem to get their pilot light lit? We have all heard of families who produce both over-achievers and under-achievers, such as the Jimmy and Billy Carters, the Jeb and Neil Bushes. 

Most families have some member that is referred to as “the black sheep” because they don’t fit in with the rest of the family, and have usually gone astray. If motivation is mainly genetic, how could all of these people come out of the same gene pool?

Motivation, like any other personal characteristic, comes from genetics, environment, and experience. Ongoing studies of identical twins (Kluger) that have measured achievement, motivation and ambition in identical twins separated at birth found that each twin’s profile overlaps 30% to 50% of the other’s. 

In genetic terms, that’s quite a lot, suggesting that genetics plays a major role. However, that number still leaves a great deal that can be determined by experiences, upbringing and environment. Motivation may be weighted on the genetic side, but for most of us, it’s just a matter of finding the right thing to be motivated about.

Motivation occurs in a large variety of forms and contexts. Within the field of psychology, motivation is divided into categories: It can be geared towards power, affiliation, aggression, and achievement. It can be a sudden and internal surge of passion or it can be adopted more slowly and grudgingly, because of the knowledge that one should improve something about one’s life, even if one doesn’t really want to do the work that is involved.

Motivation mostly comes from somewhere deep within the individual.

This means, discovering your “core” self – who you are, what you want, where you want to go. It involves “living who you are.” Fortunately, even if you weren’t born with an enthusiastic, high energy personality, you can become motivated by just knowing who you are and living your authentic self.

The word motivation is derived from the Latin word movere, meaning: to move. Thus to motivate someone is to incite motion. Motivation is brought about by having a motive, a drive or impulse that causes one to act. You must first define what your motive is in order to begin the process of change. 

Are you trying to work towards a goal, such as changing bad eating habits or losing weight? You must examine “why” you want this goal – what is it that drives you – what is your motive. Or, are you trying to motivate someone else, such as helping your child to attain better grades in school or motivating an employee to be more productive at work? 

Whether your purpose is to motivate yourself or motivate others, the following chapters will move you forward.

Internal V.S. External Motivation – Which Works Better?

Motivation is both internal, or intrinsic (coming from within you – your innate being) and external, or extrinsic (coming from outside of you – others and society). You can be motivated intrinsically, extrinsically or both. 

For example, if your goal is to lose weight and your motivation is intrinsic, it will be because you want to be healthier, live longer, feel better, etc. This motivation would provide you with the willpower to resist certain foods as well as exercise more. 

If your motivation is extrinsic, it will be because you want to look better to others, get more social approval, be more attractive, get a better boyfriend, job, etc. This motivation would also provide you will the willpower you need.

When your motivation is both extrinsic and intrinsic, you will have bonus motivation. If you are finding that you lack the kind of motivation that provides willpower and self-discipline, you need to look at what you are “claiming” to be the reasons you want that particular goal.

Albert Einstein is an example of someone who was intrinsically motivated, but not at first. As a young child, Einstein’s teachers told his parents he was a “dimwit” with little drive to learn. They even thought, because of his unusually misshaped head, that he might be mentally retarded. 

His parents decided to have him homeschooled since he wasn’t keeping up with the other students at school. His private tutor “sparked his curiosity” when he introduced Einstein to higher mathematics. And the rest was history in the making.

Ultimately intrinsic motivation will be the most powerful and longest-lasting, however, it’s okay to start with extrinsic if that’s all you have! Many highly successful people have been extrinsically motivated. 

Donald Trump has said that money is not important to him, but that accumulating wealth is like

keeping a scorecard – it tells him how he is doing in comparison to others. Michael Jordan has said that he is more likely to achieve an amazing feat when others say he can’t do it. Find out what works for you!

The 3 Keys to Unlock Your Hidden Motivation

The three magic keys to unlock your hidden motivation are what I call your “VEE.” VEE stands for Values, Enjoyment, and Empowerment. The three magic keys have to do with being, doing and having. And they must be done in this order in order to remain successful.

1. Values

Values are what you truly believe in – what is most important to you — your life force. Values are what inspire you to live, grow, love and learn. The root word in values is “val” which means “inspire.” The word “inspire” means “in spirit.” Values are what inspire you to live, grow, love and learn. Your personal values are who you are deep down. You need to become aware of who you are — your authentic self — in order to become motivated! 

Remember, your goals need to reflect YOUR own values, not those of OTHERS. Do not base your goals on what you think your family, friends, peers, teachers, society, or country want for you! Base them on what you want for you, as long as you aren’t hurting any of the above in the process. Values are the being part of your process.

2. Enjoyment

You will be motivated by things you enjoy or those things which bring you joy. Some of these things can be good for you and some of them can be bad for you. 

Hopefully, your values of goodness and healthiness will overcome the desire to do things that may be fun but will harm you in the long run (such as over-using drugs or alcohol). The root word in enjoyment is “joy.” 

Do that which brings you the most joy. Just keep in mind that what brings you the most joy in life will require a great deal of work on your part. The word “work” doesn’t have to have a negative connotation! 

Those who love their art also love the practice. You may not like the work involved at first, but over time it can become quite enjoyable. Many people surprisingly find that the process is more enjoyable than the attainment of their goal. Enjoyment is the doing part of the process.

As a motivation quote says, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

3. Empowerment

Lastly, you will be motivated by empowerment. When you are empowered you feel strong, confident, safe and secure. Empowerment is validation from yourself and the world that you have done something great. 

And it feels great! It has to do with how you see yourself in relation to others, your place in the world, how others see you, your relationships with others and your interpersonal needs. Empowerment is having part of your process.

Use these three keys throughout this book to unlock your motivation!

Theories of Motivation – Which One Fits You?

Motivation can be defined in different terms according to different psychological theories. Some of these theories are described in brief: Psychoanalytic theory states that motivation represents the pursuit to fulfill repressed needs and drives. The goal is “fulfilment and self-knowledge.”

Freud contributed greatly to the field of motivational change by defining his pleasure principle. He believed that motivation is governed by the tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain. People generally will be much more motivated (and act much more quickly) to avoid pain. Once they are in a “comfort zone” they will move diligently toward pleasure. Jung’s motivational theory is based on consciousness-raising — the individual’s innate need to uncover the “self” – one’s true, authentic being.

From a behavioural standpoint, motivation is expressed in terms of physical drives: desires and needs. The goal is “to get what we want.” The major premise of leading behaviourist B.F. Skinner’s work was, “we do what we do because of what happens to us when we do it.”

The existential theory discusses motivation in terms of the person’s innate need for meaning. The goal is meaning and purpose, or “a reason to live.”

Victor Frankl’s study of Holocaust survivors revealed man’s meaning was primarily social interdependency. Alfred Adler believed that all our drives have a purpose — to feel important — to move us from a feeling of minus to a feeling of plus.

The scientific theory focuses more on intrinsic motivation and defines it in terms of innate curiosity. The goal is “to know.” People who are drawn to the fields of science and technology are motivated by this theory.

The social or systemic theory of motivation can be defined in relation to societal pressures, to the surrounding people who exert influence and thus define the terms of motivation. Thus the goal is “acceptance and approval.” Alfred Adler felt strongly that people could not be studied in isolation, but only in terms of social context. We are motivated by the effect we will have on others. 

It is important to note here that many people are conflicted about which “society” to seek approval in. For example, a teenager may want peer acceptance more than family acceptance or may want a certain peer group acceptance more than another one. An Asian immigrant may have conflicts between his/her Asian cultural ideas and those of his/her new culture.

The cognitive-behavioural theory states that the primary factor involved in motivation is feeling in control of one’s situation rather than being controlled by external agents. Also important are autonomy, a sense of competence, and perceived self-efficacy. The goals are self-determination and freedom. 

In several studies, Bandura tested the role of self-efficacy as it related to motivation and demonstrated that an individual’s belief about his or her ability to accomplish an activity directly affected performance. 

If a person believes that he/she is capable of succeeding at something, he/she has a much greater chance of performing well at that activity or task. Thus, the ability is not fixed but depends on self-perception.

The humanistic theory believes that motivation entails the journey toward self-actualization. The psychologist Abraham Maslow is credited with the “needs hierarchy” that is referred to throughout psychology and self-help books.

He believed that as the lower levels of needs are satisfied, people move up the hierarchy of needs ladder. The goal of self-actualization is that of reaching a state in which one feels fulfilled in life and can live in the present moment. This hierarchy of needs is as follows:

  • Level one of the hierarchy represents the most basic needs — to survive and stay alive.
  • Level two is the need for safety, security and protection.
  • Level three is the need to be social – to respond, communicate, love and belong.
  • Level four is the need for self-esteem – to respect oneself and receive respect from others.
  • Level five is the need for self-actualization – to be creative, to imagine, to self-motivate, to realize one’s full potential.

Spiritual/New Thought is not really a theory, but a belief system and warrants mention here. As mentioned previously, motivation is largely values-based. The idea is that you will be motivated most by what you truly believe in– what is most important to you. 

Your personal values are who you are deep down. It is your core, your soul, your spirit, the God within you, your innermost self, your true, authentic self. Your life force, or chi, is what causes you to survive, to create, to procreate, to produce, to care for and to love. When you are “living who you are” you will be your most motivated self.

As you can see, we have an abundance of scientifically, psychologically and spiritually based theories. While these were the predominant theories in my research, there are many more. Although my emphasis is on humanistic, spiritual and cognitive-behavioural theories, each of these theories has legitimacy, and it is possible to support any or all of them. This book utilizes an integrated approach.

Abraham Maslow, the great humanistic psychologist, said there are two types of motivation, deficiency motivation and growth motivation. Deficiency motivation is the desire to fill a perceived void in one’s life, particularly a basic need such as food, water, air, shelter, or warmth. Growth motivation is the desire to improve one’s life after all the basic needs and comforts have been met. 

This article focuses predominantly on growth motivation.

Growth motivation is really what I call achievement motivation. There are several elements to keep in mind. One, which I’ve already discussed, is the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation — namely, whether one is motivated because of an inherent curiosity and desire for knowledge or productivity (intrinsic), or because of pressure exerted from the outside, such as from teachers, employers, and family members (extrinsic). 

Another factor is a person’s value system, which I have already discussed. A third issue is that there are several phases, or steps, of motivation. All of the following phases need to be considered when assessing the whole process of motivation:

  • Determining what motivates you
  • Deciding on a goal
  • Implementing a course of action that leads toward that goal
  • Commitment to the goal and course of action
  • Persisting in one’s quest of the goal over a period of time and in the face of difficulties, obstacles and setbacks
  • Achieving the goal successfully
  • Maintaining the success over time

What is Success?

Success can be defined in a number of ways, depending on who is defining it, his or her perspective, and the type of activity being evaluated.

Success for a student who is math-phobic may mean passing calculus and never having to take another math class, whereas success for a student who excels in math and hopes to attend MIT may mean getting an A in the same calculus course. 

Success can be defined by external criteria such as money, fame, love, recognition, and by internal criteria such as fulfilment, happiness and peace, or a combination of the two.

External criteria are factors such as material wealth and the perceptions of others. In this regard, success might mean earning more than $100,000 dollars a year or receiving an award as Outstanding Teacher of the Year.

External criteria are influenced by one’s culture: success may be defined very differently in Kenyan culture and Thai culture — or even in the cultures of Northern California and Southern California. Internally defined criteria consist of one’s own perceptions and definitions of success. Internal criteria may consist of satisfaction of goal fulfilment, a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of meaning in one’s purpose in life. 

My definition of success is simply “doing who you are.” Just as long as “who you are” isn’t hurting anyone else.

What I have learned from helping clients either in coaching or psychotherapy is that most people are in some level of denial about their life satisfaction. One of the first steps to getting motivated is to acknowledge that you definitely need or want improvement in some area. 

The following exercises are designed to assist you in determining your current satisfaction level in your life. Once you have determined the areas that you are not satisfied with, you will be able to set goals around improving those areas.

The question of whether internal or external motivation produces more effective and/or longer-lasting results is the subject of ongoing debate, and many theorists are now stressing the interrelation of the two types. Jung’s work focuses on the integration of both the “ego” (external) and the “self” (internal).

Also, it has been shown that as one pursues a goal for extrinsic reasons, the motivation often transfers into intrinsic needs. Thus, what starts out simply as a desire for a material thing, can evolve, over the course of time, into a part of the person’s being, or core self. 

For example, a teenage boy who gets a part-time job at an auto garage to make some extra money for a car finds out that he loves working on cars. He then enters full-time training as an auto mechanic and loves his work.

Your values, those things most important to you, will also have an effect on your motivation. Is it more important to you to be very wealthy or to have free time to pursue family or hobbies? If your answer is “free time,” then you would be more motivated to attain a sales quota at work if your boss offered you a day off rather than a bonus. 

For the person who values wealth, the bonus would be a more motivating reward. Therefore, it is vitally important to understand what you (or others) value most in life.

In summary, the main points in determining what your level of motivation will be are as follows.

  • How you feel about your goal in relation to self, others and your environment during the pursuit, attainment, and post-attainment of goals.
  • Whether your goal is what YOU want, or what you think OTHERS want for you.
  • Your goals take into account your well-being, as well as the well-being of others, and of society.
  • Your goals are “optimally challenging” – realistic –attainable – neither too easy nor too difficult.
  • Your goals have a holistic framework – consider your overall health during the pursuit of goals.
  • Your goals are congruent with your core values and are prioritized, yet, flexible.
  • Your goals bring up passion, desire, joy.
  • Attainment of your goals causes you to feel validated and empowered.

I think the purpose of life is to do something that contributes and helps you to touch people beyond your lifetime.

I think the purpose of life is to do something that will outlast it.

— Anthony Robbins

Life Satisfaction Rating

Place a number between 1 and 10 next to each area of your life, with 10 being the most satisfied and happy. Not all categories will apply to you. Feel free to add more categories that may fit you. Repeat this rating every few months to see if your life is improving.

  • Date
  • Love Relationships:
  • Friends/Social:
  • Family:
  • Physical Health/Appearance:
  • Emotional/Mental Health:
  • Spiritual Health/Peace:
  • Career:
  • Finances:
  • Home/Living Space:
  • Hobbies/Recreation:
  • Education/Learning:
  • Productivity/Creativity:


The whole point of being alive is to evolve into the complete person you were intended to be.

— Oprah Winfrey

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