Whether you're a seasoned entrepreneur or just starting your career, your success will depend almost entirely on how well you can motivate yourself. Consider: A self-motivated but otherwise average person always outperforms a genius who can't get going.

Unlike many elements required for success--financing, connections, experience, or education--self-motivation lies entirely within your control. It doesn't matter who or where you are. You can always motivate yourself to take action.

Self-motivation is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. And like a muscle, it needs to be exercised in different ways so it becomes resilient and always ready to serve your goals.

Following are multiple methods for strengthening your self-motivation. Some of these techniques you can apply immediately, while you're actually reading this post. Others lay the groundwork for making self-motivation into a daily habit.

Get Motivated Right Now

The easiest way to get yourself motivated is to surround yourself with people who are motivated. That's not always possible in the physical world, but it's always possible to draw upon the energy and wisdom of the past.

I recommend the posts "12 Great Motivational Quotes" and "Motivate Yourself in 30 Seconds." These posts (especially the first) have inspired as many as a million people to get up and moving.

Finally, review the posts "14 Easy Ways to Get Insanely Motivated" and "5 Ways to Get and Keep Motivated." Use them as touchstones for the rest of your day, so that your actions and activities continue to keep you motivated.

Cool trick: Email the "14 Ways" post to yourself and insert it into your calendar as a daily event that pops up right when you start work. Review it each day to get a quick motivation boost and keep your self-motivation on target.

Get Motivated Going Forward

As I mentioned before, you must build your self-motivation "muscle" so that it can sustain you through any doldrums and delays you might encounter.

I firmly believe that the absolute best way to achieve long-term self-motivation is to read (and reread) the classics. In "Top 10 Motivational Books of All Time," I provide my favorites (and why I like them), and readers have added their favorites as comments.

Another cool trick: You can make motivational books more compelling by listening to them. So rather than just buy books, buy audio books, so that you can listen to them whenever you have alone time.

Some people (and I'm one of them) need to know the science behind something before committing to it. That's why I researched and wrote "The Neuroscience of Motivation" and "The Deepest Source of Motivation."

Broaden Your Motivation

As I'm sure you can imagine, I'm a very self-motivated person. Even so, about six months ago, I started feeling burned out. Then I made what turned out to be a dumb decision: I pointed my dwindling self-motivation solely at my work.

I let everything else slide so I'd get the "important" stuff done. But despite all my self-motivation skills, I was really struggling to get things done. (Ironically, I'd warned about this very phenomenon in "Stop Working More Than 40 Hours a Week.")

Then as the result of a conversation with a friend, I realized that I was using self-motivation in the wrong way. I was using it to focus on one thing, rather than expanding it to encompass my entire life.

You see, I love writing this blog. I love giving speeches. I love helping people and companies be more successful. But in order to do those things well, I must simultaneously be doing multiple projects that have nothing to do with work.

I'm now putting fewer hours into my business, but I'm getting twice--no, three times--as much work done. And I'm having a blast doing all the nonwork activities that I'd unwisely put on hold.

The lesson (which I learned the hard way) is surprisingly simple: Use self-motivation to make yourself successful at life rather than just at work.