The Ultimate Motivation Guide – Drive your Self Improvement

“Do the things you know you should do, especially when you don’t feel like doing them”

Motivation is an all too common topic among the self improvement community as well as many other communities. In modern-day life, it’s used in many different ways. It’s used as fuel to achieve goals, as well as a conversation topic and even an excuse to not do work.

In this guide, I’ll be going over everything you need to know about motivation as well as the big catch that you must understand in order to master the art of motivation.

Without further ado, let’s do this.

What is Motivation?

I know pretty much all of you who clicked on this already know what motivation is and it’s the very reason you clicked on this post. However I’ve gotta do a ‘what is’ section for the sake of the post and you may be surprised at how complex motivation is.

At its core, motivation is what drives us to keep on going and to achieve our goals. The official definition of motivation is ‘the willingness to do something’. At times, motivation is the only thing that keeps us going and at other times, it isn’t there at all. However no matter what, motivation will always drive us towards goal-directed behavior and action-taking. I heard a quote recently that sums it up pretty well:

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily” – Zig Ziglar

This quote perfectly highlights the nature of motivation as well as how complex of a concept it actually is despite how simple it initially seems. What many people don’t know about motivation is that it has many different faces and types. There are also many different theories about how motivation works which are primarily used in business environments.

In its simplest form, motivation is what makes us willing to do something however it goes so much deeper than that. So let’s dive in and see how deep it goes.

Understanding Motivation – The Types of Motivation

If you search the internet for types of motivation you’ll probably find about a billion results saying a billion different things. This is mainly due to the many different environments and situations motivation is used in like work and self improvement. However, I’ve found 2 main types of motivation that you can apply regardless of your situation.

Intrinsic Motivation

Instrinsic motivation refers to persuing a goal or engaging in an activity for the sole satisfaction and enjoyment that the activity provides, rather than relying on the external rewards it provides.

A good example of this would be pursuing a career in something like acting because you love drama and enjoy playing different characters instead of just doing it for the money.

Intrinsic motivation is driven solely by an individual’s own desires and interests. It gives a sense of purpose and more enjoyment from life. If you want to nurture intrinsic motivation from within yourself then you should have a serious think about what you enjoy the most and how it aligns with your goals and dreams. Then, make sure you set out and give it everything you have got, even if you don’t feel like it at times.

The key characteristics that define intrinsic motivation are:

  • Autonomy. Autonomy refers to one’s ability to act upon their own values and make their own decisions. Often refered to as self-governance, it allows you to feel a greater sense of control and responsibility over your own actions. As a result, high autonomy in a person often leads to enhanced intrinsic motivation
  • Competence. Competence is the ability to do something successfully. To be competent at something means to be skilled at something. Seeking opportunities to show your competence in something you’re passionate about leads to enhanced intrinsic motivation.
  • Relatedness. Relatedness is the desire to build connections with and be meaningfully involved with someone or something. Often, establishing meaningful connections with the work we are doing and the people who help us do it will lead to higher intrinsic motivation.

Overall, intrinsic motivation can be an extremely powerful force that helps to sustain long-term engagement with the things we love the most. It leads to greater satisfaction, well-being, and an overall happier life. Nurturing intrinsic motivation requires a deep passion for your work and an environment that can enhance the key qualities of intrinsic motivation. Being intrinsically motivated will overall lead to a more fulfilled life and I suggest that you find something that intrisically motivates you.

Extrinsic Motivation

On the complete other end of the spectrum, we have extrinsic motivation. When you are extrinsically motivated, you’re pursuing a goal or doing an activity for the external factors and rewards that the activity provides.

The most common example of this would be not liking your job but going anyways because you need to get paid. It’s actually kind of sad how common this is among people these days. That combined with the internet are the two leading factors in the global mental health decline but that’s a whole other post in of itself.

The main motivators behind extrinsic motivation are money, praise, social recognition, good grades, promotion, etc. These factors can at times be the only things keeping us goin and tend to play a huge role in our decision making and work drive.

The key characteristics that define extrinsic motivation are:

  • Tangible Rewards. Tangible rewards lie at the very core of extrinsic motivation and they the main reason in why one becomes extrinsically motivated. These rewards mainly come in the form of paychecks and promotions however they can also be material rewards too.
  • External Expectations. At times, extrinsic motivation may arise from societal expectations, pressure from others and the need to meet a certain standard. When extrinsic motivation arises from these needs, it can turn into pressure if built up too much.
  • Performance-based focus. Extrinsic motivation can also arise from an internal need to achieve specific outcomes, meet certain deadlines and revieve validadtion as a result. The need for validation can often drive us to achieve higher however seeking too much validation can be harmful to a person.

Extrinsic motivation can be highly effective in driving short-term engagement to an activity and giving you the boost you need to keep on working. However, it may not lead to long-term satisfaction or engagement. This is mainly due to the fact that at times, tangible rewards aren’t enough. Sole reliance on extrinsic factors can diminish intrinsic interest, creativity and satisfaction which will not help out your self improvement journey at all.

Finding a balance

Despite its flaws, it’s important to remember that extrinsic motivation isn’t all harmful and can do lots of good. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are extremely effective tools when they coexist and it’s important to find the balance to enable the coexistance.

External factors and rewards can serve as the perfect kick start to iniate action taking and can help to reinforce why you are taking these actions. Over time, you can internalize these external factors through engaging with and improving at whatever you’re doing to form intrinsic motivation.

The perfect example of this would actually be me. I started this site with the hopes of growing an audience so I can become a total sellout and promote products through affiliate links (still working on that). At first, I found it pretty hard to write but I kept going so I could be one step closer to achieving that goal. Now I’m starting to notice that I’m enjoying the time I spend writing and I’m constantly coming up with new ideas for posts (lucky you eh?).

If you also want to find the perfect balance of intrinsic and extrinsic then you need to ficus on one thing.

Finding Your ‘Why’ Factor – The Core of Your Motivation

I decided to start this section off with a quote that is not only relevant for the entire post but also for the entirety of your self improvement journey. This quote is perhaps one of the most legendary quotes of all time, said by an incredibly legendary person. If you incorporate the mindset behind the quote into your daily life then you’re bound to live a more fulfilling life.

Now, back to the topic at hand.

What Is the ‘Why’ Factor?

Put simply, the ‘why’ factor is the very thing that drives your motivation. It lies at the core of it and is essentially the reason why you do your work. Our ‘why’ factor influences our aspirational drive heavily and can have a huge effect on the decisions we make. At times, the ‘why’ factor will be the only thing keeping you going and at other times it can boost your productivity immensly.

Finding your ‘why’ factor is extremely important when it comes to driving your incentive to work and is essential if you want to be correctly motivated. Just remember that finding a strong ‘why’ factor is even more important than having one as the wrong why factor can be detrimental to you in many ways.

Ways To Find a Strong ‘Why’ Factor

There are many different ways through which you can find the underlying purpose that will fuel all your future actions and I’m sure you’re to dive in and learn. However, we should first go over the ‘why’ factors that are detrimental to you and will not lead to a successful drive to do great things:

  • Materialistic pursuits. This is probably the most shallow ‘why’ factor. While it isn’t inherently bad to do things for money, doing things solely for money can often be to your detriment. If your sole drive for working is money, this can often diminish your imagination and creative side. This is due to the lack of engagement you have with what you’re doing which doesn’t give anything a deeper meaning and will decrease your overall happiness and personal growth. Materialistic pursuits should be a side piece that accompanies your main ‘why’ factor.
  • External Validation. I shouldn’t even need to explain why this is bad. By constantly seeking validation from others, you’re placing them on a mental pedestal. This will to you value them more than yourself and will overall decrease self-esteem. This behavior is also described as being a simp so avoid it at all costs.
  • Comparison to others. I’m all for a bit of friendly competition, but doing things solely to do them better than others is ridiculous. Not only are you decreasing your overall engagement with the activity you’re doing but this will also inflate your ego. You will eventually become arrogant and an overall shallow person if this is sustained for a decent period of time.
  • Social Pressure. Feeling pressured to persure certian goals and do certain things out of societal and peer expectations ins’t really motivation at all. It’s quite the opposite in fact as you’ll probably not feel any drive towards something you aren’t passionate about. As the quote goes “Everyone keeps telling me how my story is supposed to go. Nah, Imma do my own thing.” Carve your own path in life instead of going dwn the expected one.
  • Fear of Failure. If you’re only incentive to take action is based on being scared of failing, it can be extremely detrimental to you. This is because every time you work, instead of focusing on the work, that fear is constantly in the back of your mind. If you struggle with this, I suggest you take a deep breath and remember that you only fail if you give up. Remember the quote from earlier and believe in yourself.

Most detrimental ‘why’ factors tend to be related to extrinsic impulses. This is mainly because extrinsic factors lack the proper depth to sustain healthy work ethics.

Now that we have gotten what isn’t a good ‘why’ factor out of the way, let’s go over how you can find the perfect ‘why’ factor that will drive you to achieve your goals:

  • Reflect on What Matters to You the Most. If you want to find the perfect incentive, you should take time to explore your passions and embark on a quest of self-discovery. To do this you can meditate, practice journaling, or a similar activity that helps you think. Remember to always remember what is most important to you when doing this as your ‘why’ factor can often emerge when your passions align with your goals.
  • Identify Personal Meaning. To be fully passionate about something, you have to have a personal investment in it. This can be key to uncovering your ‘why’ factor. Make sure to dig deep into your goals and why you have them in the first place. Ask yourself questions like “What would achieving this do for me?” or “How would this affect me and those around me?” to invoke meaningful responses from within. Make sure to envision the emotions that achieving your goals might invoke as they may be the key to finding your ‘why’ factor.
  • Delve Into Past Experiences. To push forward, we often have to take a second to look back. Finding your drive can sometimes require reflecting on past experiences that gave you a great sense of fulfillment and analyzing the reasons why they were important to you. Consider the feelings you associate with that moment as well as the personal growth it gave you. This can give you insight into the underlying incentive behind your actions and help you bring it to the front and center.
  • Seek Inspiration From Others. When you’re lost, one of the best things you can do is seek inspiration from others. It can be through interviews of celebrities you look up to or having a talk with someone in your family you look up to. No matter what it is, it can sometimes help to seek outside inspiration to help you your reason.
  • Trial and error. The final thing you can do is simply test out stuff that relates to your interests. Notice how you feel when doing it and see how engaged you get. If it’s right for you you’ll often feel a natural curiosity in the activity and you’ll be having fun doing it. Remember to always evualuate your activities to see whoch one you resonate with the most to ultimately find your ‘why’ factor.

Remeber that finding your ‘why’ factor is a continuous and evolving process and it will take time to fully uncover it. For this reason, it’s important to embrace the journey of self discovery rather than just the destination of it. Along the way, you should work hard, be open to change and be willing to adapt and evolve your ‘why’ factor.

The Obstacles – Overcoming the Challenges of Motivation

Motivation is hardly ever as simple is feeling like doing something and doing it. More often than not there will be a feeling opposing your desire to achieve your goals and it will be putting you off doing the work. However there is a light. What you have to do is endure and do the work anyways.

To help you out, I’m going to go through some of the most common obstacles that opposite your aspirations and give you ways to overcome them.

Self Doubt

Self-doubt is an extremely common reason why many refuse to take action. They simply believe that they can’t do it or that it’s too hard for someone like them to accomplish big things in their life.

Self-doubt mainly stems from low self-esteem a lack of confidence in one’s skills and for many, it starts at a young age. For example, when I was a kid, I thought that getting a girlfriend was borderline impossible and that someone like me could never get one (no I’m not a r/foreveralone user I literally run a self improvement page) . I would also apply this mindset to many other things in life as well. Thankfully, I grew up and it went away however many keep this mindset throughout their entire life and it’s such a bad mindset to have.

If you go into everything thinking you’re going to suck at it, then you will suck at everything. Why though? Because your mindset always translates over into your actions and if your mindset is “I’m gonna suck,” then you will suck, simple as that.

If you want to stop doubting yourself then you have to open your mind a little. A self-doubting mindset is a closed mindset which means you likely have a narrow train of thought. It’s an extremely limiting way to live. What I want you to do is take notice next time you doubt yourself, and challenge that thought with a positive thought. You should also cut out bad habits that make you self-doubt and instead fill your life with more positive habits (Here are 7 habits you can adopt today to get started) and thoughts. By doing surrounding yourself with more positivity, you’ll become a more positive person and you will be able to stop self-doubting.

Fear of Failure

The fear of failure is another extremely common reason that many refuse to take action and it’s not hard to see why. Our brains are hard-wired to seek safety, this is why mental comfort zones exist. When we do leave that comfort zone, we feel afraid and uneasy because our brain isn’t used to being in this space (be it physically or mentally) and it hates the uncertainty.

It is for this very reason that people find it so hard to quit smoking, their brains hate not having the false comfort that smoking provides so they go back to it. The same can be said about chasing dreams. Many people will neglect their ambitions in favor of the easy path provided by society where the chance of failure is way less.

To help eliminate your fear of failure I have a quote for you:

“What some see as failure, others see as learning opportunities. True failure only occurs when you give up.”

You have to stop seeing failure as the be-all and end-all when it really isn’t. The world is gonna keep spinning regardless of what you do. If you view your mistakes as learning opportunities it will help you eliminate that fear and have a more positive outlook on life.

External Distractions

In order to achieve your goals you need momentum and consistency. You need to keep on working hard every day and always make sure that you’re better off than you were yesterday. In order to build momentum you need to put your full focus on your work and external distractions can complete ruin that focus.

Distractions like social media, smoking, vaping, etc. can completely break that focus and slow down or shatter your momentum altogether. If you’re constantly getting distracted from doing your work by picking your phone up every 5 minutes it’s gonna take you longer to get your work done and the quality of the work will be worse due to the lack of focus

If you want to stop getting distracted then I suggest you quit the bad habits that are impeding your progress and remove your phone from the room. Although, despite doing that, that voice in your head will at first be constantly tempting you to go back to the bad habits or to pick up your phone. It’s your responsibility to say no to that voice and to not give in to the temptations, even if it’s hard at first you still shouldn’t give up. Instead you should solely focus on the task at hand and build up a strong mental shield that says no to temptations and distractions.

Lack of Results

When you’re first starting out, especially in those first few months, you won’t see many results and this can kill your motivation. You feel like you’ve put in so much effort and you’re not seeing hardly any reward for the effort and it’s easy to give in to the feeling of despair and give up as a result.

However, this is where one of my favorite quotes comes in:

“What some see as failure others see as lessons, true failure only occurs when you give up.”

A lack of results at first is normal and instead of using it as a reason to give up, you should use it as fuel to work harder and get the results you deserve. Even if you’ve been going for a while and still haven’t seen results, you should take a step back and see if there’s anything more you can do and get to it. I know it’s hard not to feel put off by the lack of results but remember that it isn’t over until you say it is.


This one kind of applies to most of the previous factors as well but is also its own thing, it’s confusing. Procrastination is probably the most common reason that many people don’t take action. The reason I said it applies to all previous factors is because something like the fear of failure can lead to procrastination.

Procrastination is the very act of putting off your work and as a result, it is your biggest obstacle on the path of self improvement and will impede you from doing many great things if you allow it to.

Luckily for you, I have some advice to help you beat procrastination.

One thing you can do is imagine how good you would feel if you actually did your work. You know you’re going to regret it, no matter what your mind tries to deceive you with. Another thing you can do is imagine your ‘why’ factor. Reminding yourself of why you started is often great fuel to keep you going. The final thing you can do is just say no to delaying work and get on with it. This one is really hard, especially at the start, but that’s no excuse to give up

Final Thoughts

Obviously, these aren’t the only obstacles you might face along the way. They are some of the most important ones though. Even though you’ll probably face other obstacles, you shouldn’t worry about it as there is one thing you should always remember:

You already have the strength to solve your problems, you just need to show yourself you do.

Building a Positive Environment – Enhance Your Motivation

What you surround yourself with both internally and externally can play an extremely important role in your motivation levels as well as how productive you are.

If you’re constantly surrounded by distracting thoughts or friends who bring you down instead of lifting you up (in that case they’re not really your friends are they?) then it can have a real impact on your motivation levels.

If you want to build up a positive environment then here’s a few things to consider:

Always Keep Your Goals In Mind

If you want to create more positive surroundings, then that has to start in the mind. By constantly having your goals in mind, you’ll constantly be reminded to do productive things.

However just having your goals in mind isn’t enough, you also need your plan to accompany them. Your plan should be well thought out and adaptable, if it’s not adaptable then unexpected situations will make it fall to pieces faster than a jenga tower.

With these 2 things in mind you’ll be surrounding your mind with that will have a positive effect on you and as a result, will make you feel more fulfilled and help you make better choices.

Set Up a Good Physical Workspace

If you want to achieve great things, then you’ll be spending a lot of time in your workspace. If that workspace is messy, noisy, and unoptimized then it’s not exactly the most optimized workspace for working hard and pursuing your goals.

If your workspace isn’t a good one, then you’ll find yourself constantly losing focus, getting distracted as well as just sitting there doing absolutely nothing. Many people overlook this however and continue to work in environments that are detrimental to them.

If you want to build a positive workspace, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Reduce Clutter. Having a messy workspace is not only visually unappealing to look at, but a messy workplace can often reflect a messy life. If you look at people who have messy rooms and workplaces and then look at their lifestyle you’ll more likely than not find a correlation between the two. Fixing some aspects of your life often helps you fix others too.
  • Remove Distractions. If you keep your phone, your vape (throw it away), or any other distractions around you while you work then you aren’t gonna get much done. The temptation of going on your phone will be constantly in your mind if you keep them right next to you when you work. You should keep your phone and any distractons far from reach.
  • Make Sure It’s Well Lit and Located. If your workspace isn’t well-lit, then you obviously won’t be able to see much. However this isn’t just about the things you can use to light up the room, this is also about what kind of room you’re in. If you’re stuck working in a room like a basement, where you see almost no daylight, then this can affect your motivation and mood pretty eaisly. Make sure you work in somewhere where you can get enough daylight so your mental health doesn’t take a hit.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the state of your workspace on how motivated you feel and how productive you are. Make sure you set it up to optimize productivity with minimal distractions and potential for time wasting.

Surround Yourself With Supportive and Like Minded People

To start this section, I’m once again going to reference one of the most famous quotes used in the self improvement community.

“You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with”

You’ve probably heard this quote a thousand times by now and it especially applies to building a positive environment.

If you surround yourself with negative people who often partake in bad habits and things that are detrimental to them, then you will likely head down the same path. Their self-destructive ideas and tendencies will constantly echo in your mind and even if you don’t follow their path, you’re still surrounded by the influence of their lifestyle (and the stench of beer/cigarrettes). They’re overall just people you would rather not being around

However, the opposite is also very true as if you make friends who genuinely wish the best for you and don’t associate with bad habits. Their positive influence will rub off on you and will inspire you to follow in their steps and take action. You may even foster a friendly rivalry with them for some healthy competetion.

It may be hard for you to find someone who has the same mindset that you do, but that doesn’t mean you should give up searching. You’ll be thankful that you didn’t give up searching as it is one of the best things you can do to surround yourself with more positivity and boost your motivation

Smile and Be Grateful

Sometimes all you need to boost your positivity is to just smile more and be more thankful for the things you have in life.

No one likes a complainer and it isn’t uncommon to see many people constantly complaining about what they don’t have in life. What you don’t see as much is people being grateful for what they do have in life. Just being here on this world and having a roof over my head is something that I’m very grateful for. This obviously doesn’t make your problems invalid but you shouldn’t complain about them and instead take action.

If you’re constantly complaining then that’s just filling your mind with negative thoughts for no reason at all. Instead, make sure to fill your mind with positive thoughts and beliefs. Over time, this will have a profound impact on you and you’ll start to view the world through a more positive lense.

Being more grateful and complaining less will also make you a better person to be around and you’ll become a magnet for positivity whose presence will be enjoyed by all.

The Catch

I’m guessing around half of you got curious and jumped straight to this section.

Ok so we’ve gone over what motivation is, the types of motivation, the ‘why’ factor, the obstacles that stand in the way of motivation and how you can create a positive environment to nurture your motivation. Where is the catch in all this?


There will be days when, despite having a perfect ‘why’ factor, being in the perfect working environment and having overcame many obstacles already, that you just won’t feel motivated.

Yes, there will be times that you just won’t be feeling it no matter what kind of situation you’re in. This is perfectly natural and it happens to all of us. However, when one question is answered, another question often arises:

What do you do then?

You already know the answer.

You keep on working, regardless of how you feel.

That is the only acceptable answer to that question. Sometimes we just won’t be feeling it, but we have to keep working regardless of how we feel. This is a true test of our resolve and if you can put in the hard work every day regardless of how you feel, then it’s only a matter of time before you see the results you deserve. It may take a while but it’s coming.

This is why you shouldn’t rely on motivation when it comes to success.

I know what you’re thinking “You’re telling me you wrote over 4000 words of advice and that I shouldn’t follow any of it?” No, I’m not. Motivation should be a side piece to accompany what you should really rely on, discipline. Discipline will always be there, unlike motivation. Motivation helps tremendously when it is there and is useful, but it’s discipline that will get you over the finish line.


Motivation doesn’t seem so simple anymore does it?

Many people believe that at first and it’s not hard to see why. However now you know that deep down, there are a whole host of factors that play into motivation and that there are many challenges that oppose it.

For me, the most important takeaway from this is that you cannot rely on motivation to get your work done. If you did do that, then every time you didn’t feel motivated you would just slack off and waste time. Compare that to the person who relies on discipline and you’ll see that they never miss a day of hard work.

Make the most out of motivation when you have it and when you don’t have it, work like you do have it.


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