What is the Best Source of Internal Motivation?

Motivation comes from within. In most instances, the best source of internal motivation is to be focused on your purpose, and on what you stand to lose. Following this, the best way to manage your motivation is to make sure you have small daily victories, keep at it and be mentally attuned to the bigger picture.

This post gives a simple 5 step process to keep you on track with motivation and to help you achieve your goals.

We all drift off-course from time to time, and simple reminders about what we want and how we are progressing are powerful aids.

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Best Source of Internal Motivation

Step #1: Focus on Your Purpose

The Importance of Purpose

Purpose underpins everything. Everything is done for a reason.  If you want to get somewhere you firstly need to know where it is you want to go. Obvious really, but something that is often easy to forget.

Your purpose is the driving force of your motivation. It is your bedrock.

As the Chesire Cat said to Alice – “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

Another insight comes from Yogi Berra of the New York Yankees – “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.”

It’s also true that if you spend all your time thinking and planning, you will achieve very little. Action is the key ingredient, and a poor plan vigorously executed will generally beat a great plan that never gets any momentum.

 “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Joel Arthur Barker

The motivation to act springs from the groundspring of your purpose. Today’s actions all lead you towards your purpose. Purpose is the best source of internal motivation, so it needs to be framed properly.

Think big! Make your purpose inspiring and something to aim for. Small goals lead to small achievements.

Purpose is more than just an objective – it should define you as a person and reflect who are really are. Your purpose stems from your character and values. Achieving your purpose defines your destiny and creates your legacy.

Focusing on purpose clarifies the mundane, it makes you realise the routine is needed and excites a sense of urgency. You never feel like you’re wasting your time if you’re laser focused on your purpose. Everything is being done for a reason.

Visualize Your Purpose

To help focus on your purpose, visualize success and attainment. Play a mental movie in your head and imagine what it will feel like, what it will mean to you. Don’t just feel the emotions, imagine them in full colour and 3D glory, and renew your dedication to achieving your ultimate goal.

Step #2: Focus on What You Stand to Lose

Internal motivation also comes from a fear of failure. Yin and Yang, good and bad, winning and losing – they are all motivators.

When you focus on what you stand to lose, and what that might mean to you, these emotions can be harnessed to motivate you to action.

This can be a focus on the possible losses. These might be financial, but they may also be career based or social, such as loss of reputation, loss of face, social standing, respect and the like.

Think about the disappointment that comes with failure, or the hassle and complications of having to start over. Consider how pointless it is to wander around aimlessly without direction or purpose. There are many people who experience failure and the regret of not having tried hard enough.

Don’t be afraid to slap yourself around a bit, confront your fears and reluctance to “give it a go”.  Be prepared to take the harder road, and not settle for the quick and easy.

Step #3: Stay Motivated by Daily Mini-Victories

The old saying that nothing succeeds like success is very true. When you taste achievement, your confidence builds and you are more motivated to keep going, to continue.

There are opportunities for achievement and making progress towards your purpose and your goals every single day. Many of these are small steps, but they all count. They may only seem like small tasks, but if they are relevant to your purpose, you move closer to it.

Use these as a source of motivation. Celebrate these small successes, get pumped up and push yourself to do more. Go to bed at night feeling satisfied that you have made progress – that your goal is getting closer. You will wake up ready  to tackle the world and build on these foundations.

The objective here is to achieve a streak and to build momentum. This will in turn lead to bigger accomplishments and scale towards more complicated tasks.

Start by scheduling your time by difficulty. Its good to start the day by getting a few small and easier tasks out of the way. This not only stops these clogging up your day and distracting you when you are tackling the bigger tasks, it also gives you that sense of momentum.

Don’t spend all your day doing the smaller stuff though.

Celebrate these early steps – feel good about yourself and your capabilities, then get enthusiastic about tackling the bigger, more complicated stuff.

When you break the bigger ones into smaller chunks, this gets even easier, as you can map your progress.

Keep pushing for a 1% improvement every day – it’s amazing how quickly these small steps can build a skyscraper.

Managing Your Internal Motivation

Step #4: Get Some Help From Others

Life is not a single person journey. We all need a little help from our friends and colleagues. Others are often an important source of internal motivation – either from a direct request for help, or as role models and inspiration.

Sometimes this is a direct request for help – e.g. “I’m feeling a little down today, can you help me with this or that task?”

Or it might be a help to build your motivation – e.g. “I’m not really on the ball today, can you give me a kick up the backside to get me going?”

One of the best sources of internal motivation however is to model yourself on others.  Compare yourself to the successful people you know. Then consider how are able to push through barriers and problem times. Develop an attitude that says – ‘if they can do it, I can do it too.’

Look at how these people go about their jobs or tackling their problems. Do they have a single line of attack, or are they flexible in their approach – for instance, if they can’t go under, do they go through, go over, etc

It is useful to look to others for inspiration – role models and heroes are an important part of our chemistry.

Step #5: Keep Note of Your State of Mind and Flow

There is increasing evidence that outperformance occurs when we get into a state of flow. It brings to mind a heightened awareness gives precise focus on a particular task.

The next time you achieve a state of flow, internalize it so that you can replicate it. Take notes, savour it, try to remember every detail of your emotional and mental state. Simplify it into a form you can quickly call into mind.

Test it – if you think about it your motivation and mental clarity will spike up and keep tweaking until that set of mental images have this effect on you

Try it – when you feel your motivation lagging, spike it up with your flow form. Then just let it happen, don’t put a brake on it, or edit it by mentally saying “what am I doing?” Let the focus it brings drive you and be your (heightened) motivation.


I hope you have found the above information useful and will help you on your journey to a better life. If you have any feedback or want more information, please do not hesitate to leave a comment.

“Yesterday was the last day of your past. Today is the first day of your future.”

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2 Responses

  1. Dan says:

    Great list Steven. What really helps me out is the small daily victories. A guy I listen to a lot calls it “stacking those W’s”. As soon as you wake up you have the opportunity to start stacking this wins and doing what you need to do. Things like making your bed and getting up early. I find that stacking as many wins as I can keeps me motivated and feeling good throughout the day. I really like your advice of aiming to improve just 1 % each day. I think that’s the way for most people. Trying to make huge leaps and gains usually derail people overtime because it’s difficult to maintain. Thanks for the great read!

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