5 Things I've Learned About Motivation

motivation, self development
We all struggle with motivation, and here are a few things I've learned from that struggle.

Do you struggle with motivation? I do sometimes. Most people do.

It's a tricky thing, I'd say. Sometimes it's available in abundance that you end up doing a week's work in advance, and sometimes you're looking for reasons to get out of the bed.

Last year I decided to add a few new habits, and boy did I struggle! I ended up learning a few things about motivation during this whole experience. It's quite interesting to me because if you know the factors that affect motivation, you can manipulate yourself to stay motivated a little more.

And from my experience, here are the things that affects motivation the most:

5 Things I've Learned About Motivation

1.  It's Not Going to Come from Anywhere

One of the few things that I enjoy doing online is reading something inspiring or watching motivational videos on YouTube. I'm pretty sure you do it too. Heck, there are so many inspiring people out there sharing their stories and giving out some really good advice. How can you ignore that when it pops up in your recommended videos. Right? They are indeed a great place to get started. But there's a catch. Before we look into it, we need to understand what are the types of motivation.

Did you know that there are two different types of motivation? They are:

Extrinsic motivation; it is exactly what it sounds like-- external. The motivation that comes from an external source is extrinsic motivation. The inspiration TEDx videos and the inspirational words from your teacher/boss falls under this category. It's a short-acting motivation.

Intrinsic motivation; the motivation that comes from within. The preparation you did for your final exams or your job interview comes under this category. You build motivation from within, and that's what makes you work. This type of motivation helps you to finish your report before the deadline. In the long term, this is the type of motivation that sticks around.

The catch is that extrinsic motivation is temporary. You can watch hundreds of motivational videos and read a bazillion articles on how to be motivated, but the motivation thus developed is not going to last. Therefore, you need to work on developing intrinsic motivation. It is the intrinsic motivation that makes you take action.

Now, how do you develop intrinsic motivation? The reality is that there is no trick or step by step guideline. It is something that has to be created from within. It doesn't "come" from anywhere, rather you create it by forcing yourself. There is no motivation button that you can push and get motivated. There's no magic happening with the people who get things done. They just do what they have to do, and they do it by forcing themselves.

You have to force yourself to not hit the snooze button. You have to force yourself to start doing cardio. You have to force yourself to study. You have to force yourself to stop using social media. You have to force yourself to write the report. And when you watch those inspirational videos to get motivated, you have to force yourself to act immediately on it.

You have to force yourself. Period.

2.  What You Need More Is Discipline

I wanted to lose weight and so I started watching YouTube videos for inspiration. It worked! I got motivated (extrinsic) enough to take action, and I acted upon it immediately (intrinsic) by buying my jump ropes then and there before going to bed. I knew that if I waited till the next day I'll probably not do anything about it at all, but if my jump ropes are here I'll use it for sure.

So I took the action in response to the motivation. But here's the thing: the motivation only lasted for like a week and then it started to fade. It got to a point that it started to seem like a lot of work to get up early and jump, even though it didn't even require me to leave my home. I knew that I need to lose weight and that if I skip one day, I'll probably stop jumping rope eventually. So I pushed.

The thing is, I don't really "like" to work out, but I force myself every day to exercise.

It's not about forcing yourself for a day. It's about forcing yourself every single day.

Once the decision is made, disciplining yourself to stick to the plan is of utmost importance. Force yourself every day, so that you work towards your goals every day.

Motivation, both internal or external, will get you started, but discipline is what will get you actual results.

3.  It's Easier to Motivate Yourself If There's a Personal Attachment to the Goal

Human beings are creatures who are controlled by their emotions. Most of the things that we do are emotion-driven. We tend to perform well when emotions are involved. Say, you want to earn more money because you lived in poverty for a significant amount of time, or you want to lose weight because you feel you are not healthy, or you want to get at a better position so that you can earn more to save up for your kid's education. These are more emotions than goals, and you are more likely to succeed in such cases. The intrinsic motivation will happen naturally.

On the other hand, if there is no interest, there will be no driving intrinsic motivation.

So, to be successful at any goal it is important that you know you whys. You make a personal attachment to the goal by clearly knowing why you want to achieve this goal. Ask yourself: Why are you doing this?

My favorite thing to do is to take a piece of paper and write down all your whys. Write down how you would feel if you achieve this goal, and what effect it will have on you and your loved ones. Keep that paper, and every once in a while, especially when you are at a verge of quitting, look back at this paper. This will give you strength and a rush of positivity. JOURNAL IT UP!

Keep reminding yourself why you are doing this, and try to feel the emotion that is dominant. Use this emotion to guide you forward.

This works even if it is something that you don't want to do. Try to look for some (even 1 is good enough) positives; about how this can benefit you in some area of your life. Everything can benefit you in some way. That should make it a lot easier to get through.

4.  Motivation Will Work the Best When the Challenge Is Optimum

What is an optimum challenge? A challenge that's not way too easy, nor is way too difficult. It should be challenging, challenges do motivate us, but not too challenging. It should be in proper proportion to our existing skills.

Easy tasks usually get postponed because of...well... their easiness.

Also, if the challenge is too difficult than our abilities, you will quit soon. If you are someone who doesn't even go for a simple walk and are asked to run a marathon, you won't be able to do it because your abilities are not quite up to the mark to carry out the task. But if I ask you to just start by running 5 minutes a day, and increase 5 more minutes every week, you will be able to do that. It would be enough of a challenge for you, and yet not too challenging to land you a twisted ankle on the very first day.

There's a mark in between these two points of way too easy and way too difficult, and that is an optimum challenge, and that is what you should aim for. Be realistic and start small; no one gets better in a day or two.

Motivation will stick around if the challenge is optimum.

The optimum challenge will help you push a little further so that you improve and yet is not too overwhelming for you that you'd want to quit. It's just about right!

5.  It's Important to Keep Re-Motivating Yourself

As discussed already, motivation doesn't last for a long time, and therefore it's important to re-motivate yourself. Why? Because that will support you to stay disciplined. Because science!

Habits are actually neural connections that have grown stronger over time. So when you try to break them or form new ones, it just doesn't happen overnight. You have to keep repeating that habit (routine) till the neural connections forming them solidifies and becomes a normal part of your routine. But until that happens it's a little difficult to navigate your brain towards that new habit because it's not used to doing so.

This leads to the fall-outs that happen when we try to form a new habit, this is the reason why you end up eating junk when you are trying to lose weight, despite doing your best to discipline yourself.

This is totally normal, but you have to realize this that you are at a higher risk of slipping back to old habits when you are in the process of forming new ones. And so you might need a little help disciplining yourself because in early stages of forming new habits sometimes even discipline fails to work. It is then re-motivating yourself comes into play.

How can you do that? First way is to keep on looking on success stories. There is an abundance of resources today: internet, duh! People tend to share a lot, including the useful stuff. Follow that. Look at videos of people going through the entire process and their progress reports, and read blogs about it.

The second way to re-motivate yourself is to educate yourself more regarding what you are trying to achieve. Read more about it; books, researches, interviews. When knowledge increases, your confidence increases, which, by the way, is proven to increase motivation. It will also give you new ideas to try out.

The third way to do this is by tracking your own progress.  Don't ever forget to acknowledge your own success. There's no greater motivation than a positive result.


It is our responsibility to motivate ourselves. No one else has the ability to get you moving. Force yourself to take the first step. Once you do that, make sure that you be disciplined enough to carry out the task every time it is scheduled. Don't forget to make it a little challenging; push yourself a little further each time because that's the only way to really improve. And remember, if you keep on working you will see results, and those results should be acknowledged.

So these were my lessons about motivation. Now, I'd like you to tell me in comments about one of your goals where you struggled the most with motivation, and what you did to manage it.

Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough. 

-Og Mandino

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© Quirky Writes 2019


  1. I'd say more of the self discipline is a big one. When I was back in Uni setting myself strict deadlines and sticking to them (and if i didn't I didn't get to do something like, go out with my friends) really worked wonders for me. Everyone asked me how I was so organised and still had time to do things out of education!

    Shannon from www.atnumber20.co.uk

  2. This is a fantastic post that is different to most motivational reads. You are very accurate in what you are saying and I also truly believe things need to change on the inside first before they change on the outside.
    It's all about our mindset!
    Thank you for sharing.

  3. People do not understand what incredible power motivation has. I agree with Shannon as well, self discipline plays an important role as well.

  4. This is really a wide topic and sometimes a debate. Every person has his own answer on what really motivates him or what could motivate him. Personally, what motivates me are my goals, sometimes ironically, the negativity or down moments in my life that I'm experiencing. But in order to act on this motivation, we have to be disciplined and start acting on it.

  5. Some great insight on motivation here! You're right that discipline is really what matters. It's all too easy to get motivated, then run out of steam.

  6. "It's not about forcing yourself for a day. It's about forcing yourself every single day."

    This is the important (and hard!) part. Doing it every day it what gets you where you want to be.

  7. I need to work on the discipline. I liked when you said it’s not about forcing yourself to do it for one day but it’s about forcing yourself to do it everyday. :) great post

    1. I need to work on discipline more myself. It's very important that we keep pushing ourselves to get things done. Otherwise, it's never getting done. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. This is super helpful, and I definitely agree with self-discipline being important on the road to success x

    1. Thank you for stopping by. Yes, discipline is the most important factor of all.

  9. I love this, and I didn't know about the two different kinds of motivation before - it makes total sense. I really think every point you make is excellent - the one that resonates most with me most is discipline. I cycle to work every day, and unless it is literally dangerous (I'm talking ice, I will cycle no matter how hard it's raining) I force myself to go by bike and not take the bus. Now it's a habit! However, at the weekend, I find it really difficult to motivate myself to cycle into town, even though it's a similar distance - because I haven't made any effort to motivate myself to do it, and often just take the bus. It's such an interesting concept.

    1. I love that you use your bike as you main transportation- healthy and environmental friendly. Yes, discipline is where most of us fall back, and that's the most important factor of all. I'm glad that you found this post useful. Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Great tips and discussion. When it comes to work, I rarely lack motivation. But when it comes to health, fitness, exercise, healthy eating, that sort of thing, that's where I tend to struggle.


  11. I absolutely loved this post :) :) and couldn't agree more with you. It's indeed up to us. Thank you so much for sharing this motivational and inspiring post. xxx

  12. Not only do I feel more motivated now, but I feel smarter, too! It's really cool to see the scientific side of things; it really puts things in perspective. Anytime I've been successful with weight loss or just general fitness, it was always because I kept track of my progress. Also, having someone to hold you accountable is always a big plus! Usually my mom and I would double down together, and it really made things easier.

    1. I'm so glad that you found this post useful! Yes, it's a good idea to help you in the journey. Having a company indeed helps a lot. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insight! I appreciate. :)


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