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When You Lack Motivation, Remember This!

motivationThere are different kinds of motivation, but one particular type of motivation keeps working for you when all others fail – even when you’re discouraged.

I was reminded of this recently when reading Jen Gresham’s post, 7 Unexpected Reasons You’re Not Living Up To Your Potential. The kind of motivation I’m referring to is known as intrinsic motivation. If you don’t know what it is, you’ve got to learn.

If you already know what intrinsic motivation is, then you’ll want to make sure it plays a consistent role in your life.

What is intrinsic motivation?

Motivation from the inside out. Intrinsic motivation occurs when you’re doing things for the pure pleasure of doing them. You’re intrinsically motivated when you are enjoying yourself on the inside while engaged in an activity.

On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is active when you’re doing things because of some outside force or external reward. Status, external rewards, and outside obligations fall into this category.

Forget being intrinsically motivated 100% of the time. Life doesn’t work that way. We often must do things to appease outside forces. So, relax. That’s fine. We’re not seeking perfection here.

Here’s when you want to be SURE you are motivated from the inside out:

On the important things in life. Your career. Your close relationships. Your important hobbies. The stuff upon which your foundation in life is based should have a healthy dose of intrinsic motivation.

If not, your motivation will not be as solid as you’d like. And your happiness may suffer considerably. The inner gratification won’t last.

This premise was tested in one of the most rigorous contexts imaginable, West Point. Ten thousand cadets were assessed over 14 years as to their style of motivation. Those with intrinsic motivation were more likely to remain motivated and perform well than those who were motivated by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors.

In short, intrinsic motivation is the “it factor” of all motivation. It works all by itself!

How to become intrinsically motivated…

• Focus on why you’re doing things, based on your values
• Engage your world mindfully
• Look for the most enjoyable elements of what you do and pay special attention to those (but avoid neglecting the rest)

Of course, developing intrinsic motivation may sound simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. You may need to do some soul searching to define your values. You may need to give yourself permission to enjoy what you’re doing, and this is not always simple when you’re in a pattern of sabotaging yourself.

You’ll need to quiet your inner critic and get in touch with who and what you are on the inside. It’s the journey of a lifetime. If you ask me, this is what we’re here to do.


Learn about mindfulness. You can start by doing something as simple as joining Mindfulness Advice on Facebook.

Check out Jen Gresham’s awesome post on living up to your potential.

Learn how self-sabotage can ruin your chances at higher motivation and happiness by watching this free and enlightening video.

When You Lack Motivation, Remember This!

Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage and co-founder at The iNLP Center which offers online certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming and life coaching.

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APA Reference
Bundrant, M. (2016). When You Lack Motivation, Remember This!. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Apr 2016
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