According to Psychology Today, motivation is literally "the desire to do things." Therefore, self-motivation may be described as: the initiative to begin or continue an activity without any external influence.
Unfortunately, our motivation is easily affected by circumstances and predispositions, which can result in unfinished tasks, unfulfilled goals, and even apathy about a job, relationships, and life itself. What, then, is the remedy to guard against a loss of self-motivation and keep the fires burning to drive achievement and success?
Here are six pillars to construct a self-motivating mindset:
1. Purpose: You were custom-made by God Himself--handcrafted by the Master. Therefore, you have significant, eternal value. (Read that again.) Your purpose is found first in the One who ordains your life and every step you take. You have been gifted with talent and have much to offer the world and the people you influence. True motivation comes from knowing your purpose and the destiny He designed exclusively for you.
- "When you find your definitions in God, you find the very purpose for which you were created." --Dr. Ravi Zacharias
2. Peace: Everyone fails. Get over it. Make peace with your past mistakes and failures. Learn from them, but don't let them hold you back. Too often, we give up trying for fear of failing and lose motivation. Let it go, and keep moving forward.
- "I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work." --Thomas Edison
3. Perception: Your self-perception frames your thinking. A positive self-perception leads to optimism--the fuel required for action and achievement. Avoid over-inflating or undervaluing your capabilities. Both can cause a loss of motivation, because false self-perceptions lead to challenges with projects getting started, quality, deadlines, deliverables, etc. Instead, use sober judgment (and a coach or mentor) to objectively assess your strengths and limits.
- "You cannot consistently perform in a manner which is inconsistent with the way you see yourself." --Zig Ziglar
4. Positivity: In order to maintain an optimistic outlook, set mental and emotional boundaries as guards against pessimism. When negative or self-defeating thoughts enter your mind, move them out quickly, lest they lead to self-sabotage.
- "No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit." --Helen Keller
5. Prudence: Regarded as an ancient virtue, prudence is careful good judgment to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason. Thomas Aquinas said that prudence starts with the “act of inquiry.” To get the outcomes you want, take the time to do your homework. Read. Learn. Research. Grow. Avoid impulsive thoughts, words, and actions, which typically lead to undesirable outcomes, resulting in loss of motivation.
- "We must believe what is good and true about the prophets, that they were sages, that they did understand what proceeded from their mouths, and that they bore prudence on their lips." --Origen
6. Progress: Finding an answer. Completing a task. Achieving a goal. Each of these stimulates a strong positive emotional response within us. Even solving the simplest problems will kindle your motivation to achieve more. So always track your achievements and draw energy from them when times are tough.
- "Of all the positive events that influence inner work life, the single most powerful is progress in meaningful work." --Professor Teresa Amabile
Motivation is a very big topic and many excellent books have been written about it. To begin, start slowly and work your way through each of these six pillars, exploring how to apply them based on your circumstances.