It’s easy enough to feel motivated when you need to put food on the table, or when someone you care about is driving you – because of their need or desire – to accomplish something specific.
Motivating yourself, however, to do something you care about is an entirely different kettle of fish. For one thing, unlike external sources of motivation, self-motivation tends not to go away until you reach your goal. For another, it usually derives from your own values and desires. That’s a big reason why reaching your self-defined goals generally yields enormous levels of satisfaction.
So how self-motivated are you?
What follows are some indicators of self-motivation. Not so incidentally, they can also double as traits you can cultivate if you want to increase your level of interest in accomplishing goals that you – rather than anyone else – establish:
You Regularly Set Goals for the Future
People tend to fixate on the results they want to obtain. But some people simply yearn for those results. In contrast, people who are self-motivated about their work and their life tend to focus their attention and efforts on the relevant details, the appropriate timelines, the best methods of moving forward, and their progress so far.
You Work Hard Toward Your Goals
Goals your set for yourself tend to be the most meaningful and important. Because you set them yourself, they automatically come with that vital “buy in” that coaches say is so central to putting in effort and obtaining results. As a result, it’s natural for you to strive harder to reach them.
What’s more, because your self-established goals nearly always reflect your values and desires, working toward them is energizing rather than depleting. The more you accomplish and the closer you get to your goal, the stronger your drive to do even more toward achieving that particular success.
You Double Down on Adversity
It’s rare to glide all the way to any worthwhile goal without encountering at least a few difficulties or setbacks. When they (almost inevitably) occur, these often derail the efforts of people working toward externally-established goals.
On the other hand, those who are self-motivated tend to be far more reluctant to quit, or even ease off. Instead, they prefer to try again, to re-cast their plan, or to revise their goal to work through or around the problems they have encountered.
You are Optimistic About the Future
Not all goals are easy to achieve. That’s another reason why self-motivated people have an important advantage: they tend to pay most attention to the opportunities associated with their goals and the budding results of their efforts. They acknowledge the potential difficulties or barriers, of course, but avoid giving them too much importance or blowing them up out of proportion.
What’s more, self-motivated people usually feel an appropriate level of confidence in their own skills and abilities, and in the resources they can marshal to support their efforts toward their objectives. Their goals may be expansive, but are rarely out of reach.
You Enjoy Each Success
Goals that others set for you may carry important rewards, but for self-motivated people nothing beats the simple and direct feeling of satisfaction that comes with hitting their own selected targets. Such successes are the culmination of a complete, uniquely individualized process: conceptualization, planning, effort, and conclusion. In some ways, it’s akin to having a baby, and it quite normally results in far more joyful and long-lasting feelings than helping to deliver someone else’s baby.
If you feel you fall short on any of these indicators and would like to score higher, you certainly can.
The specific techniques for improving your self-motivation are beyond the scope of this piece. But they center around learning to set achievable goals, rewarding yourself for each one of your achievements, and checking your track record to recognize and honestly accept your talents, experience, skills, and abilities.
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