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Building Motivation: 6 Actionable Tips To Motivate Yourself (With Examples!)

I was a pot-smoking, 3-time high school dropout at age 16. That’s no secret. I’m open about this part of my past, as embarrassing as it is. The reason I share that is because the catalyst for that lowly period in my life was a complete lack of motivation. Since then, I have built a fulfilling writing career, accomplished many personal goals, and created a great life in the process. The lesson I learned? Building motivation is essential.

Without the motivation to do and become more, you’ll find yourself drifting through life, lacking any direction. “You become a ship without a rudder; sooner or later, you will end up on the rocks,” as the late personal development pioneer Earl Nightingale once said. In this post, you’ll learn 6 actionable tips for building motivation in your life.

What Is Motivation?

Motivation is the driving force for action and achievement. It’s the fuel in your gas tank that prompts you to move toward your goals. For this reason, it’s a critical factor for your success in life. While there are many definitions for this term, I think of motivation as an internal state that inspires the action needed to attain a predetermined outcome.

With this definition in mind, it becomes very easy to recognize the importance of building motivation. However, there’s still a lot of talk out there saying that motivation is useless and that it takes a backseat to discipline. Let’s explore that thought in detail.

What Makes Motivation Important?

Many people say, “Motivation is garbage; discipline is what you need for success.” While the notion isn’t necessarily wrong, it isn’t completely accurate, either. Here’s the deal: Building motivation is critical because it gets the ball rolling until discipline takes over. The discipline to follow through doesn’t exist if you lack the motivation to start in the first place.

For this reason, motivation is an essential piece of the puzzle when it comes to reaching your goals and ambitions. And that’s what many people don’t understand. Motivation can help you to:

  • Achieve your goals quicker and more efficiently
  • Increase your productivity and performance
  • Enhance your well-being and resilience
  • Stick to your plans for the long term
  • Build a sense of momentum in your life
  • Feel empowered to make positive changes
  • Create better habits more aligned with your goals and values

Here’s the deal: We all have varying motivation levels. Some are just motivated enough to go to work and pay their bills, while others’ motivation extends far beyond the average person’s. So, what separates one from the other?

Two Powerful Motivators That Drive Your Decisions

There are two primary motivators “pulling the strings” in your life. Both of them influence your thoughts, words, and actions. Therefore, understanding what they are and how to use them matters. Let’s explore them in detail.

Intrinsic motivation

Your internal psychology can—to a large extent—determine your level of motivation. Successful people the world over talk about the idea of “Following your passion.” That’s not a coincidence. When you love what you do, your internal motivation takes care of itself because of the innate joy you receive from your particular activity.

Think of the last time you were enthralled by something

I bet it was a subject/activity you were passionate (or, at the least, curious) about. And that is the secret to building motivation that lasts. There needs to be interest. You can’t get excited about left-handed puppetry when you feel called to electronics.

A perfect example of this is the late, great Steve Jobs.

steve jobs

Steve was driven by his love for technology and electronics. He dreamed of producing the best products not only in his industry but in the world. His biographer revealed that Jobs worked from 7 AM to 9 PM every day, building Pixar and Apple into the enormous enterprises they are today (with Apple valued at over $2.618 trillion in April 2024).

Before his passing, Steve Jobs consistently spoke about the role that passion plays in long-term motivation. Voice snippets, interviews, and full audio recordings of Steve Jobs can be found all over YouTube and Spotify, with him detailing the necessity of passion.

Intrinsic motivation comes from the deep-rooted, built-in love you have for something.

Extrinsic motivation

Your external circumstances play a major role in determining how motivated you are. If your bills are paid, you have money in the bank, and your dead-end job isn’t killing your soul (yet), you don’t have much emotional leverage on yourself to change. If things are at least halfway decent, then most people will carry the attitude of, “Why rock the boat?”

However, if you’re broke, in debt, and stuck in a job that sucks the life out of you, you’ll have an incentive to not only rock the boat but jump off of that sinking ship. Those who are driven by circumstances usually have the motivation to fight for a better life. That’s the power of extrinsic motivation.

Motivational speaker Eric Thomas is a great example of this.

motivational speaker eric thomas

Thomas shares his story of being homeless as a younger. For two years, he wandered the cold and unforgiving streets of Detroit, living in abandoned buildings. That is until he met a preacher who inspired and encouraged him to become more. As a result, Eric cleaned up his act.

He tirelessly worked day and night, taking 12 years to earn a 4-year degree. Regardless of the time it took, Eric never lost hope or motivation to fight for his dream.

What can you take away from Eric Thomas’ story?

True, long-lasting motivation latches on to those who are hell-bent on getting more for themselves. Eric was driven so closely by circumstances that failure was not an option. That 12 years could have taken 50 years, and it wouldn’t have made any difference to Thomas.

Why? Because of the external motivation he had in the form of his dier situation and the preacher who believed in him. Very few people retain their motivational streaks long enough to see results if they’re comfortable where they are. Building motivation in your life comes when you adopt the mentality of “Enough is enough!” 

3 Reasons You Might Lack Motivation

A lack of motivation can hinder your momentum in life. It usually stems from a few culprits. If you’re struggling with sustaining your motivation over the long haul, these variables may be the reason why.

1. No support from others

Who you associate with will determine your degree of motivation. You take on the attitudes, mannerisms, and, eventually, beliefs of the people in your inner circle. This is common knowledge in psychological literature. Think about it like this: What happens when you rip out a tree from its roots? Or when you take a fish out of water?

In both cases, the tree and the fish die! Now, I understand that’s a pretty elementary example, but try not to get hung up on semantics. The point is you’ll either flourish in the right environment or perish in the wrong one.

2. Not enough reasons to commit

It’s one thing to want a $1 million mansion, and it’s another to know why it’s important for you to have it. Why would you want that kind of estate? Just to have people look at it from the other side of your gated fence? That doesn’t sound too appealing if you ask me…

Now, if you said you wanted it to support your parents in their golden years…

Or to create lasting memories, hosting family reunions…

Or to own a valuable piece of real estate that could be passed down for generations…

That would be a worthy goal to aspire to attain. Building motivation that carries you from start to finish happens when you have enough reasons to support your ambitions.

3. Lack of self-belief

The most important thing you can ever do in this world is believe in yourself. I’m not talking about being conceited or arrogant. Inflated egos bruise easily. I’m talking about having grounded faith in your ability to get things done. Self-belief is the cornerstone of any success. And if you don’t have it, you will struggle with building motivation.

You can develop self-belief with consistent effort. So, if you lack this essential quality, start taking corrective steps to cultivate it, and watch your motivation skyrocket as a direct result.

6 Easy Tips To Motivate Yourself

Before I discuss the steps to help you motivate yourself, you must understand a simple truth: You can’t always rely on motivation. Yes, motivation is important; however, some days are just going to be tougher than others to get up and get going. That’s life. So, don’t think that you always need to be motivated to put in the work.

But with that in mind, there are some tricks and tips you can use to put yourself in the right frame of mind. These tips are game changers! Here are 6 step by step tips to help you build motivation toward your goals.

1. Set specific and achievable goals

Most people wait for motivation to find them before they begin taking action. This is completely backward. You take action first, and then motivation will find you! The best way to do this is to set specific and achievable goals. When I say “achievable,” I mean easy to attain. Why? Because you can achieve anything if you start small enough. 

A prime example of this principle in action is with Jerry Seinfeld.

jerry seinfeld image to describe a motivation method

As one of the world’s most celebrated and well-known comics, Seinfeld has become famous in self-improvement circles for his “Don’t Break the Chain Method.” When Seinfeld was a young comic honing his skills, he committed to writing at least one new joke every day. He then got a calendar and drew a giant “X” on each day that he honored his commitment.

Over time, a string of Xs filled his calendar. This tactic reflected Jerry’s commitment back to himself as he continued to practice and, eventually, master his craft. And it all stemmed from him setting the specific and achievable goal of writing just one joke a day.

This tactic works because the consistency you develop creates a sense of momentum in your life, which boosts your motivation to keep going! So, look at your objectives for a moment. Then, ask yourself this important question: What one small goal can you set and achieve each day that will move you closer to your ambitions?

2. Create a supportive environment

“As the twig is bent, so shall the tree grow.”

~ Alexander Pope

You would be shocked to learn the role environment plays in your success. But the truth is your surroundings will influence you more than anything else. Building motivation requires a supportive environment. The good news is you can cultivate this support right where you are simply by asking for it. You can turn to:

  • Friends and family
  • Associates
  • Accountability partners
  • Team members
  • Colleagues
  • A spouse

Sharing your ambitions with people you trust can boost your motivation to achieve those goals. I’ll explain why this strategy is so effective shortly. However, the main idea to remember is that you need to create a supportive environment for yourself.

This is one of those extrinsic motivators; moreover, it’s among the most practical steps you can take to start building motivation.

3. Look for sources of inspiration

You need inspiration to drive you when building motivation. Sometimes that second gear is only one uplifting YouTube video or podcast away. Delve into the archives of different content creators to find the inspiration you need to keep pushing. Here is a video example of what I’m talking about:

Videos such as this feature voice snippets of successful people—from podcasters to speakers—sharing their knowledge and wisdom on how to win. However, inspirational sources are not limited to content online. You can also find motivation in your daily life. For example, a good friend of mine recently bought his first home.

I think I was more excited to hear the news than he was to tell it. He’s been working hard for a long time, and he finally achieved this huge milestone that has driven his efforts for years. That inspired me to keep fighting for my goals. The point I’m trying to make is that you need to celebrate the success of others.

Why? Because we’re all cut from the same cloth. If someone is winning in their lives, that means that you can win in yours. You just need to view their success as evidence that you’re capable of the same results.

4. Visualize the benefits

If you’re lacking motivation toward your goals, try thinking about them more often. Seriously. Studies show that your brain can’t distinguish between reality and what you vividly imagine. What does this mean for you? If you can visualize your goals with as much detail and emotion as possible, you can convince yourself that your imagination is reality.

A great example of this would be MMA legend Conor McGregor.

conor mcgregor visualization

McGregor has said in many interviews that he visualized his success continually long before it ever happened. He saturated his mind with winning. He saw it, felt it, immersed himself in it wholeheartedly, and as a result, brought it to reality. Today, Conor McGregor is the most popular and well-known fighter in UFC history.

What can you take away from McGregor?

The power of simply seeing the benefits of your goal. Your imagination is a potent force; it’s like a mental vision board. The problem is that you’re most likely not using it correctly. Begin imagining accomplishing your goals, feeling the emotions of victory, and seeing success unfold in your life.

Although you haven’t achieved anything (yet), you will feel a sense of accomplishment beginning to build—provided you start taking action on your visualizations.

And that’s the key: You have to act! That’s one of the bad habits in the self-help space. You can’t just sit around thinking about what you want. Sooner or later, you have to actually do something to move yourself forward. Once you learn the delicate balance between dreaming and doing, building motivation will become a non-issue.

5. Establish a routine

You can’t accomplish anything worthwhile without consistency. The most successful people have routines. If a routine is good enough for them, it’s good enough for you. But it’s not enough to throw some arbitrary ritual together and then expect success. The secret is to align your routine with your goals and outcomes.

Look at someone like Jim Rohn, for example.

personal development speaker jim rohn photo

Jim Rohn (Sept 17, 1930 – Dec 5, 2009) was my favorite personal development speaker. He first discovered self-improvement at age 25 when he met his mentor Mr. Earl Shoaff. As a result, he saw an explosive transformation over the next six years of his life, going from, as he put it, “Pennies in his pocket” to millionaire status.

How did he do it?

He shifted his mindset, beliefs, and, most importantly, routines to align with his new goals. He began reading books and attending seminars on how to sell, lead others, accumulate wealth, etc.

Key takeaway? If you want to start building motivation, get serious about setting some SMART goals in your life. Then, align your habits with your daily routine, so they support your new objectives.

6. Find accountability

Sometimes regardless of the preliminary steps you take, you may still fall short. It’s impossible to cover every conceivable angle when it comes to these things. However, an effective strategy that has served me well is the power of accountability. Find an accountability partner who will hold you to your goals.

As of this writing, I have three accountability partners. Each one is like a shield against laziness and apathy. And I have to say: these relationships have been tremendously helpful in ensuring I hold fast to the standards that matter to me.

Your sense of motivation will skyrocket when you have someone else to answer to. Here are some other benefits of accountability partners:

  • Help you get a plan ready for your goals
  • Move you toward the action stage
  • Reduce poor health choices
  • Improved relationships
  • Help you achieve your ultimate goal

So, think of some positive people you know and trust. Can you ask them to be your accountability partner? You’d be surprised at how willing some people are to fill this role. One caveat, though: Ensure they are on the same (or similar) path as you.

Namely, that they also value personal growth and development.

Conclusion

Building motivation is essential to reaching your goals. It will keep you moving forward when you feel like giving up; moreover, it will increase your confidence, as you’ll know you have the ability to follow through—no matter what. If you still feel like you need some help, I’ve got you covered.

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