What motivates you in life?

Learn the keys to what motivates you to succeed in life

When was the last time you smiled, not because you felt like it, but just for the sake of smiling? You’d probably do it more often if you knew that smiling was making you happier. That’s right! If you made all the facial expressions you make when you’re excited, elated and thrilled, even when you don’t actually feel those emotions, the truth is that you’d see an immediate improvement in your mood. Why does this matter? Because your mood is everything, especially when it comes to what motivates you to succeed in life

In fact, take a moment to smile right now. Why does something like a grin have so much power to dictate what motivates you? How do you feel, physically and emotionally, when you allow yourself to smile?

Your mind interprets the events we experience within the framework you set for yourself, meaning that whether an experience is positive or negative is largely determined by our mood and state of mind. Think about it: The emotion and meaning our minds attach to events ultimately count more than the experiences themselves, because they condition our willingness to experience and pursue them. This is the key to uncovering what motivates you in life and how to use it to achieve your dreams.

What motivates you to succeed in life?

Researchers generally split motivation into two different types: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from your own personal desire to meet your Six Human Needs. When you are intrinsically motivated, you want to do something because of the way it makes you feel – not for someone else. Examples of intrinsic motivation include:


Contribution is one of our most vital human needs because it brings us fulfillment. If you want to volunteer and give back, you’re likely motivated by contribution.


As Tony says, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Growth is a powerful human need that drives us to master new skills, climb the career ladder and more.

Extrinsic motivation comes from people outside of yourself, like your boss, coworkers or partner. When you’re extrinsically motivated, you want to earn a reward from someone outside yourself. Examples of extrinsic motivation are:


Many people are driven by acquiring material things – yet they may find that this ultimately doesn’t bring them fulfillment in life. You may need to dig deeper to discover what motivates you to succeed in life beyond money.


Our craving for praise and attention is a part of our deep need for significance: to feel unique, important and special. This need can be an effective way to reach short-term goals, but when the praise goes away, so does our motivation.  

Both types of motivation play a part in what motivates you in life, depending on what it is you want to achieve. For example, extrinsic motivation like monetary rewards is surprisingly not effective when it comes to workplace achievement like completing tasks or being more innovative. But it can also be highly effective – for example, the power of proximity is an extrinsic motivator that can drive you to raise your standards.

action and motivation

How to get motivated

Whether you’re working toward a long-term goal or want to learn how to motivate others to take action, it all begins with you. As Tony says, “Changing an organization, a company, a country – or a world – begins with the simple step of changing yourself.” As you consider what motivates you to succeed in life, get and stay empowered for success with these motivation tips.

Examine your mood

A positive state of mind can be what motivates you in life, and a negative state of mind can be what holds you back. Mood is affected by two different things: your physiology and your energy.

What does it mean to say that your mood is partially determined by your physiology? Consider the signs and vibes that a motivated person radiates. They smile, laugh and more often than not shine with unbridled optimism. They often have better posture and more approachable body language than someone who’s not as motivated.

It’s true that certain goals and experiences cause these reactions, but this is only half the truth. Thanks to the law of attraction, being happy, open to change and optimistic also work the other way making you predisposed to positively evaluating the task at hand, your life and what the future brings if you accomplish your objectives. This can help you get motivated and discover what drives you.

Evaluate your energy levels

motivation for success

Mood is influenced by energy levels, too. It’s important to eat right, exercise and to otherwise take great care of yourself. Think about it: How can we expect our minds and bodies to tackle our responsibilities and ambitions when we starve them of nutrients and TLC? When you make the commitment to maintain your energy levels through natural means, like healthy eating and exercise you enjoy, you’ll find that your state of mind will improve over time as well.

Good energy levels, got it – but how exactly do you maintain them? Treating your body and mind right via exercise and diet plays a big part in finding out how to be motivated. There are other factors as well, like making sure to breathe correctly. You’d be surprised how much of your energy comes down to breathing and to giving yourself enough time to reflect through morning meditation. If you really are serious about restoring that passion, that motivation, to succeed — not just professionally, but within all aspects of your life — you can start by taking the 10 Day Energy Challenge, which is built to comprehensively tackle this part of improving your mood and your day-to-day drive.

If you want to get motivated, you have to start by being in the mindset that you already are motivated. Remember the emotions you feel when you’re passionate about something and bring those to mind when tackling new projects and objectives. Finally, treat your body right — keep your chemical balance in line, eat the right foods and remember to breathe. Now you’re ready to turn your experiences into beliefs, and your beliefs into convictions.

Turn beliefs into convictions

what motivates you to take action level of beliefs triangle“Beliefs have the power to create and the power to destroy. Human beings have the awesome ability to take any experience of their lives and create a meaning that disempowers them or one that can literally save their lives.” – Tony Robbins

Our beliefs create our world. They have varying levels of emotional intensity and they possess the power to change our actions. There are three categories of beliefs with varying abilities to motivate you. Understanding each of the three types of beliefs – and how to adjust them – will empower you to make the link between action and motivation in every area of your life.

1. Opinions are something we feel relatively certain about, but the certainty is only temporary and can be changed easily. For example, you might think that the head of your company’s accounting department is not qualified for his position, but your opinion may change quickly when you see how effectively he manages his staff.

2. A belief, on the other hand, is formed when you develop a much larger base of reference, one that’s often associated with strong emotions and based on experience. Beliefs can create such a level of certainty that they close people off to new ideas. For example, some people believe that money equals success. Other people may have a different — yet equally passionate — belief as to what success truly means.

3. A conviction, however, eclipses a belief, primarily because of the emotional intensity a person links to the idea. A person holding a conviction feels so certain that he or she will be completely resistant to new input, often to the point of obsession. One of the best things you can do to create mastery in any area of your life is to raise a belief to the level of conviction. Convictions are at the core of what motivates you to succeed in life.

Because conviction inspires passion,  it has the power to drive you to action and push you through all kinds of obstacles. For example, the conviction to never let yourself become out of shape will compel you to create consistently healthy eating habits, empowering you to get more enjoyment out of your life in the long run. The conviction that you are an intelligent and resourceful person can become what motivates you in life during incredibly tough times.

what motivates you to succeed in life

So how can you reinforce a belief and turn it into a conviction that will help you make a positive, lasting change in your life?

  1. Identify the basic belief that you want to elevate.
  2. Reinforce your belief by adding powerful references. To create a conviction around a healthy lifestyle, you might research the medical consequences of gaining weight. Then talk to people who have lost weight and kept it off. The more references you develop, the stronger your conviction.
  3. Then find a triggering event — or make one of your own. You need to raise the emotional intensity of the belief. If you want to give up smoking, you might visit the intensive care wing of a hospital to see the effects of emphysema firsthand.
  4. Finally, take action. We know that action and motivation are closely linked: Each action you take strengthens your commitment and raises the level of your emotional intensity and conviction.

Pick one of your beliefs and create an action plan using the four steps above to influence what motivates you. Remember to put dates on your plan to keep yourself moving forward and track your progress.

Learn goal-setting strategies

We all have the same amount of hours in the day – successful people just know how to use them better. You may feel deeply inspired and ready to take action, but without effective goal-setting and time management strategies, you’ll never be able to capitalize on what motivates you to succeed in life.

  • Set specific goals. If you want to write a book, set a concrete objective, such as, “I want to write 200 pages.” Don’t lose steam tracking undefined goals. By setting metrics, you can better gauge your progress and get the positive feedback you need to feel motivated to continue. When you reach your goals, celebrate! Happiness and optimism breed productivity, so the more you achieve, the better you feel and the more you can do moving forward.
  • Chunk your tasks into manageable, actionable goals. This way, you resist feeling overwhelmed, but even more importantly, you attach emotional significance to your goals.
  • Turn shoulds into musts and make your goals a priority. If you don’t, they won’t get done. As Tony says, “Don’t should all over yourself.”
  • Stay committed. When you achieve a goal that is part of your action plan, reward yourself with something meaningful — and don’t skip it. Still not feeling motivated? Use a commitment device: Penalize yourself monetarily if you don’t complete your task. Whether you donate the money to charity, your kids or a friend, you’re out $50 (at least for a good cause). Follow through!

Adopt healthy habits

It is often the ability to take action that leads to motivation, not the other way around. In order to have that energy and vitality, you must take care of yourself. Create a cycle of action and motivation by adopting healthy habits:

  • Feed your mind as you consider what motivates you in life. Every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things. Read success stories, books, blogs and inspirational quotes to keep your motivational fire burning bright. Tell yourself that if people you admire can accomplish their goals, so can you.
  • Recharge your batteries. Deep breathing can release toxins and flood your cells with oxygen. Additionally, get the sleep you need to perform at your peak level.
  • Get results coaching. Sometimes it’s tough to get a neutral perspective on your goals, your progress and your strengths and weaknesses. A Results Coach can give you the sound feedback and motivation you may be missing now, and can also serve as an objective sounding board.
Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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