How to self-motivate

What goal are you working toward right now? Maybe it’s getting in better shape or advancing in your career. Perhaps it’s discovering how to be a better romantic partner or parent to your children. Whatever the goal, think about why you haven’t reached it yet. What’s holding you back?

The answers that first come to mind might be external factors. You don’t have the time. You don’t have the skills. You don’t have the money. While these things might play a role in your lack of progress, what it really comes down to is a lack of self-motivation. When you’re driven and resourceful, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to – as long as you have the willpower to achieve it.

What is self-motivation?

Most self-motivation definitions consider how you can find the ability to do what needs to be done without influence from other people or situations. Self-motivation is encouraging yourself to continue making progress toward a goal even when it feels challenging. It’s turning your shoulds into musts. 

Think of some of the most successful people you know. Are they the smartest people you’ve ever met? The wealthiest? Chances are, they’re not – but they are the most motivated to succeed. As Tony Robbins says, “The one common denominator of all successful people is their hunger to push through their fears.” When you have enough hunger, you can easily learn how to self-motivate to meet the goals you’ve set your mind and focus on.

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Why is self-motivation essential?

The ability to self-motivate is the only sure-fire way to achieve your goals and get everything you want in life. You won’t always have parents, teachers or bosses to direct your energy or provide external motivations. You need to cultivate and draw on inner strength – a deep confidence in yourself that is completely unaffected by outside events and experiences. When you have this type of belief in yourself, you’ll be unstoppable.

Self-motivation is also essential to finding a fulfilling career – and to acing job interviews. The question “Are you self-motivated?” often comes up during the interview process, and it’s not always easy to answer. Employers ask this to see if you’re a good culture fit and if you’ll be enthusiastic about the work you’ll be doing. To be prepared, think of a few examples: times that you felt especially motivated about your work or when you set a big goal and achieved it with self-motivation. You’ll demonstrate your passion and make a connection with the interviewer.

lack of emotion causes lack of progress

What drives self-motivation?

So, why do so many people find themselves lacking motivation? The truth is that self-motivation techniques all come down to your psychology. First, you have to clearly know what it is you want. Why do you want to improve your connection with your partner? Is it so you can deepen the trust and love between you, ultimately creating a healthy relationship and long-lasting bond? Think of the reason why you want to succeed and turn to this when things seem tough and you need help with self-motivation.

Then, you need to assess the emotion and meaning you’re attaching to your successes and failures.

When you face a setback, do you tell yourself you’re not good enough to succeed? If so, it’s time to seriously change your psychology. To truly answer the question “What is self-motivation?,” you need to be in the mindset that you’re already motivated. When it’s time to self-motivate, think of the positive state you want to be in to get things done. How does your body feel when you’re motivated? Where are your energy levels? What messages are you conveying with your body language?

By tapping into the positive state that you associate with self-motivation, you’ll be able to self-motivate more easily and often.

13 self-motivation techniques for reaching your goals

1) Take responsibility for your life

Self-motivation is often difficult because it comes from you. If you don’t take care of the underlying issues that keep you from making progress, you can fall back on blaming others for your failure. In some cases, you can rely on external factors and friends for motivation, but at the end of the day, you’re the one who has to put in the work. You’re the one who must take charge of your life.

2) Find your why

Tony often says that, “People are not lazy. They simply have impotent goals – that is, goals that do not inspire them.” Before you can learn how to self-motivate, you need to find your why. You need a compelling purpose that goes beyond material things or climbing the career ladder. Why do you want to build a business? It likely goes back to the ability to do what you want, when you want and with whom you want – the true definition of success. Connect your goals back to your purpose and you’ll never lack self-motivation.

3) Reevaluate your goals

 Tony also says, “At any moment, the decision you make can change the course of your life forever.” If you’re focused on your vision and purpose, but you’re still not feeling inspired, you may need to make a decision to go in a new direction. In other words, if your why isn’t motivating you, then you may need a new why. Reevaluate your blueprint for your life and don’t hesitate to create new goals. As long as you’re making progress, you’re ahead of everyone who isn’t making an effort. 

smart goals examples

face your fears

4) Create empowering beliefs

The only limitations in our lives are the ones we put on ourselves. If you don’t have enough self-motivation, it comes down to one reason: you don’t see yourself as a self-motivated person. Change your negative beliefs into positive ones by conditioning your mind and creating empowering beliefs. Catch yourself when you think negatively about yourself and transform that self-talk so that it motivates you instead of holding you back.

5) Learn better time management strategies

Sometimes the key to self-motivation is having the necessary time-management tools and strategies under your belt. How are you managing your time? Find ways to stop procrastinating and start making progress, like chunking, the Rapid Planning MethodTM and N.E.T. time (No Extra Time time).

6) Create a massive action plan

Self-motivation techniques can be as straightforward as creating a massive action plan: writing down what it is you want, identifying your purpose behind it and creating a series of steps to help you reach your goal. Once you have your plan documented, you can refer to this for additional motivation when things get challenging along the way.

7) Look to the success of others

Turning to inspirational quotes for motivation or looking toward a mentor for advice can help you on your path to success. Read more about famous role models or leaders you look up to and see how they utilize self-motivation. You may be able to pick up some techniques or gain some inspiration as you read about their strategies and struggles.

8) Use the power of music

Our brains are hardwired to respond to music. Tapping into the types of beats and rhythms that boost your mood and energy levels is a great way to get yourself out of a slump and more focused on the task at hand. Always have a pair of earbuds and your favorite playlist nearby so you can harness the power of music when you need a jolt of self-motivation.

self motivation

what is self motivation

9) Schedule outdoors time

Even the most energized people will eventually get run down if they spend too much time in cramped spaces with artificial light. When learning how to self-motivate to reach your goals, don’t make the mistake of burning the midnight oil and staying confined to your office. Getting outside and spending time in nature every day is a perfect way to take a break, boost energy and replenish your self-motivation.

10) Banish multitasking

You may think that working on three projects at the same time is the best way to get things done and that your self-motivation will soar when you can simultaneously check multiple to-dos off your list. You’re wrong. Multi-tasking diminishes focus, and as Tony says, where focus goes, energy flows. Select the most important task you need to work on and concentrate solely on that until you’ve accomplished what you need to, then move on to the next one.


 11) Get moving

Self-motivation becomes much easier when you’re already in motion. It doesn’t matter whether you are figuring out how to self-motivate toward working out, tackling your tasks at work or preparing for that big presentation; the more you move, the more energy you will have. Movement doesn’t have to be limited to the gym. You can easily incorporate movement throughout your day by taking the stairs, walking around your home while on the phone or incorporating these desk exercises into your day.

12) Visualize your self-motivation

Having trouble taking those first steps toward a goal? Visualize yourself as already active in that part of your life, when the goal is achieved. Use this priming exercise first thing in the morning: When you do this, you bridge that gap from inaction to action just by priming yourself for success.

13) Focus on gratitude

It can be very difficult to learn how to self-motivate when you get caught up in negativity. Focus on gratitude and adopt an abundance mindset. Be thankful for all the good things in your life and steer your focus from all the things you wish you had. Stop comparing yourself to others and understand that life is happening for you, not to you. The more you look at everything good in your life, the more of it you will attract and the easier it will be to self-motivate to attract even more.

Ready for the motivation boost you need?

Find the self-motivation you need to conquer the obstacles hindering your progress. Take Tony Robbins’ Driving Force quiz and discover what drives your every action.