in ,

What Is Motivation?

What Is Motivation?

The Motivation Behind Human Behavior

The word “motivation” refers to the reasons behind someone’s actions. It is what motivates people to act in the way they do.

For instance, motivation is what drives you to earn that promotion at work or helps you lose additional weight. Simply put, motivation pushes you to do actions that move you toward your goals. The biological, emotional, social, and cognitive variables that drive human behaviour are all included in motivation.

Additionally, motivation involves elements that guide and sustain goal-directed behaviour. Even so, these motivations are rarely plainly visible. As a result, we frequently have to extrapolate from observable behaviours the motivations behind people’s actions. 1

Discover the various types of motivation and how we employ them in daily life. Furthermore, do not worry if you feel as though you have lost motivation. We also offer some tips on how to increase or develop your levels of self-motivation.

Types of Motivation

The two primary motivational styles are frequently distinguished as intrinsic or extrinsic.

  • Extrinsic motivation comes from sources other than the individual and frequently entails material rewards like medals, cash, accolades, or social recognition.
  • A simple example of intrinsic motivation is completing a challenging crossword puzzle solely for the satisfaction of resolving a dilemma.

A Third Type of Motivation?

There may be a third type of motivation, according to some studies: family motivation. Going to work when you are not intrinsically motivated to do so but are doing it to provide for your family financially is an example of this type.

Why Motivation Is Important

Therefore, it is crucial to understand motivation and the variables that may affect it for a number of reasons.

Knowing what motivates people can:

  • As you go toward your goals, increase your effectiveness.
  • Motivate you to take action and encourage you to adopt healthy habits
  • Assist you in staying away from harmful or unhealthy behaviours like risk-taking and addiction
  • Aid in making you feel more in charge of your life
  • Boost your general happiness and well-being

Mental Health in the Workplace Webinar

“Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, moderated a virtual webinar on “Mental Health in the Workplace” for Verywell Mind on May 19, 2022. If you missed it, read this summary to find out how to promote positive work environments and practical tips to enhance your wellbeing at work.”

Components of Motivation

If you’ve ever set a goal for yourself, such as wanting to run a marathon or lose 20 pounds, you are probably already aware of the fact that having the desire to do so is insufficient. Additionally, you must be able to overcome challenges and possess the fortitude to continue despite hardships.

To become and maintain motivation, one needs to have these various factors or elements. Activation, persistence, and intensity are the three main factors that make up motivation, according to research.

  • The choice to start a behaviour is known as activation. Enrolling in psychology courses to acquire your degree is an example of activation.
  • The continuing pursuit of a goal in the face of challenges is known as persistence. Showing up for your psychology class despite being exhausted after staying up late the night before is an example of tenacity.
  • The concentration and zeal used to pursue a goal are both examples of intensity. One student can put out little effort (low intensity), whereas another student diligently reads, engages in class debates, and takes advantage of opportunities for research outside of the classroom (greater intensity).

“The strength of each of these motivational factors will determine whether you succeed in reaching your objective. For instance, if you are highly activated, you are more likely to begin pursuing a goal. If you keep working toward that goal and how much effort you put into achieving it depends on your persistence and intensity.”

Tips for Improving Your Motivation

The level of motivation and willpower varies for everyone. You may experience moments of intense motivation to accomplish your goals. Other times, you might feel drained or unsure of your goals or the best way to pursue them.

There are actions you can take to help boost your drive if you’re lacking it. You can do a variety of things to increase or develop your motivation, such as:

  • To concentrate on things that truly matter to you, change your goals. More than goals based on low-importance objectives, focusing on things that are really essential to you will help you get through your obstacles.
  • Break a task up into smaller, more manageable pieces if it feels too enormous or overwhelming to handle all at once. Then, focus just on completing the first step. For instance, instead of attempting to lose 50 pounds, aim to lose five pounds each week.
  • Boost your self-assurance. According to research, motivation and self-assurance are related. 6 Therefore, increasing your self-confidence and skill level may help you reach your objectives.
  • Remind yourself of your past accomplishments and your areas of strength.
  • Try working on making changes in the areas where you feel insecure so that you feel more skilled and capable.

Causes of Low Motivation

There are a few things you should watch for that might hurt or inhibit your motivation levels. These consist of:

  • One tiny slip-up or relapse can sap your enthusiasm to keep moving forward if you believe that you must be totally perfect in order to achieve your objective or that there is no sense in trying.
  • Having faith in rapid fixes If you don’t quickly achieve your objective, it’s simple to lose motivation, yet most goals require time to accomplish.
  • A generalisation that one size fits all It does not guarantee that a strategy or method will be successful for you just because it was successful for someone else. Look for alternatives that will work better for you if you lack the drive to pursue your goals.

Motivation and Mental Health

“An ongoing lack of motivation can occasionally be linked to a mental health issue like depression. If you experience signs of apathy and depression for more than two weeks, consult your doctor.”

Theories of Motivation

Psychologists have put forth numerous theories over the years to explain what drives human behavior. The main theories of motivation include the ones listed below.


Psychologists like Sigmund Freud, William James, and William McDougal have proposed a number of fundamental human drives that underlie behavior. They include biological instincts that are important for an organism’s survival—such as fear, cleanliness, and love.

Drives and Needs

Biology serves as the basis for many actions, including eating, drinking, and sleeping. For biological reasons, we must eat, drink, and sleep. We are so driven to eat, drink, and sleep. According to the drive reduction hypothesis of motivation, people have four fundamental biological drives, and our actions are driven by the desire to satiate these urges. 8

Another theory of motivation based on the need to satisfy fundamental physiological needs is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Our other needs, such as those related to safety and security, social needs, self-esteem, and self-actualization, become more important once those needs are satisfied.

The Bottom Line

Psychologists have proposed many different theories of motivation. The reality is that there are numerous different forces that guide and direct our motivations.