Motivation to succeed comes in two flavors: external motivation, and self-motivation. There’s not much you can do to upgrade your external motivation, which depends mainly on the ways other people and situations arrange rewards and punishments to influence how hard you do or do not work.
Self-motivation, on the other hand, is much more under your personal control. You may be born with a high level of self-motivation. You may be raised to feel a steady, strong urge to accomplish your goals. But what’s most interesting is that you can increase your level of motivation by the ways you think and the things you do.
Self-motivation is largely comprised of the following:
- Positive thinking about the future.
- Focus on achievable goals.
If you’re not satisfied with your present level of motivation to succeed, you’ll be glad to learn about some of the methods that have worked to strengthen these factors and thereby improve results for lots of successful people. Read on:
A key element in feeling motivated from within is feeling self-confident. Having more of it tends to increase your willingness to set challenging goals for yourself, to put in strenuous efforts to achieve those goals, and to bounce back from difficulties, obstacles, and even failures you may encounter in your work and life.
To a large degree, self-confidence is the centerpiece of self-motivation, because if you’re lacking self-confidence, you’re less likely to set tough goals or try very hard to achieve them. With more self-confidence, however, difficult challenges generally won’t deter you from giving your all to overcome them.
In addition, people with more self-confidence readily acknowledge their successes and take pleasure in the results and rewards they accumulate as they move forward.
To build your self-confidence, regularly take time to acknowledge your past successes, and to enumerate your strengths, skills, and talents that contributed to those successes.
You should also think about your future, and what more you would like to achieve in the years ahead. It’s OK to set yourself some easy goals. But it’s even more conducive to building self-confidence when you aim for one or more objectives that will be difficult to achieve.
Then make a point of steadily working toward these goals.
A regular cycle of reflecting on past goals you have achieved and working toward new goals will tend to slowly but surely crank up your level of self-confidence.
Positive Thinking About the Future
It’s a fact of human life that the more positively you look toward the future, the more confident you’ll feel about the present.
Many people acknowledge that “seeing is believing,” but don’t understand that it’s equally or even more true that “believing is seeing!” In other words, your expectations tend to influence your results. But don’t take only my word for it. As Henry Ford famously said: “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
For this reason, it’s important to cultivate a positive outlook about the world and your life in it.
To begin this process, regularly reflect on your own chain of thoughts. Do they tend to be positive or negative? Pat yourself on the back for any positive thoughts, but analyze any negative thoughts you may have – perhaps with help from a friend or a colleague. To the extent possible, try to identify any “glass half empty” aspects they may contain.
In many cases, you’ll find that adopting a “can do” attitude coupled with a determination to take specific, practical actions will allow you to replace a “glass half empty” thought with a “glass half full” one.
Focus on Achievable Goals
Another element of self-confidence is a clear focus on tasks, projects, and goals you can actually accomplish. By setting your sights on such attainable objectives, you lay the groundwork for plans and actions that will yield satisfying results.
To get the maximum benefit from setting these kinds of goals, try to keep them:
- Clear, measurable, and specific.
- Directed toward actions you can take and performances you can deliver, rather than toward the results you hope those actions and performances will produce.
- Challenging, to some degree. For example, a goal of “getting up in the morning” is not going to build your self-confidence, even if you achieve it every day, because it happens automatically and it’s difficult not to achieve this one. But a goal as simple as “making your bed every day” will definitely help to build your self-confidence – although admittedly only a tiny bit. A more challenging goal, such as “campaigning well to win an election,” “increasing my production to earn a promotion,” or “training consistently to run a marathon” will build your self-confidence a great deal, even if you don’t win the election, earn the promotion, or compete in a marathon. Why? Because these goals are challenging enough to motivate a solid, long-term effort.
- Worthy of your commitment. A goal you don’t commit to is a goal that’s unlikely to motivate. The more important your goals, and the more you actually want to accomplish them, the more powerfully they will drive you to put in your best efforts.
Get the full value from setting self-motivating goals like these by retaining your focus on them. Review them and revise each one as necessary, perhaps monthly or even weekly, as a way to keep them working as motivational engines.
In addition, keep your time and effort focused on these goals by prioritizing them over other activities. To do this, create daily, weekly, and even monthly schedules that reflect your priorities.