“How do confident people produce motivation from within?“
When people procrastinate on a goal they are working towards, something they commonly ask is
“How do I find more motivation to complete this work?”
Having to find motivation seems like the wrong approach when you are talking about something you want to do.
It is also a highly inefficient way of getting things done.
Think about it, if you constantly have to source motivation, then every time you focus to do the work, you have take a two step approach:
Step One: You have to locate a source to inspire action:
Whether you like watching testosterone fests like Rocky or 300, scroll through some Gary V advice on Instagram, read a self-help book, or you crack open YouTube and to listen to David Goggins shouting at you, you require an outside source to inspire you.
Step Two: You carry out the action.
Whether it’s going to the gym, studying, working on a business… something else, you’ve spent the time looking for motivational inspiration, now you’re ready to go.
But after a while the motivation gets depleted, meaning you have to recover before going back to step one for another endorphin rush.
By breaking down this process, hopefully you can start to see the issue, you’re using time that could be spent on the goal, to rouse you to act on what you supposedly want to do.
Therefore, wouldn’t it be more effective if you could skip step one? What if you naturally produced your own motivation, rather than having to consume it from other outlets?
In this article I explore ways of instilling that hunger in you, so you yearn to work on your objectives more efficiently and for longer, without needing constant encouragement.
The habits of the confident…
This post is part of my series The 42 Habits of Highly Confident People, which takes a look at the attributes of a confident person:
Does not need motivation from external sources to get things done
This relationship between confidence and motivation comes about because typically confident people are more willing to take risks, they recover from failure recognising it as a learning experience, and they are much better at following their own path.
Confident people dream big – even if the achievement is far off, or beyond possible this does not deter their motivation to work to these objectives.
To understand where they get this persistence, let’s have a look a bit more closely at motivation.
How does motivation work?
Motivation, simply is what causes us to act, we use it to explain why a person does something, for example the police might say:
“We haven’t yet established what motivated him to murder his wife…”
Okay I’m messing about with the extreme example because, perhaps worryingly, it was the first thing that came to mind when trying to explain the concept.
Generally, not all motivation is equal, we are more motivated to do some things more than others – some come naturally without thought like getting out of bed in the morning, others require a bit more persuasion, such as being offered money to complete a survey.
In psychology this is referred to as extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.
- Extrinsic motivation – arises outside of the individual, can be trophies, money, social validation, or praise.
- Intrinsic motivation – arise within the individual, such as working on a task, driven by the satisfaction of reaching the achievement.
(Definition provided by: Very Well Mind: What is Motivation?)
It’s important to understand these differences when setting goals says Ayelet Fishbach in Harvard Business Review because when setting objectives, we need to have intrinsic motivation of personal achievement, because it’s rare that we would receive some extrinsic compensation to keep us going.
Hypothetically, if you are only motivated to achieve a goal because you feel it will gain validation from others, means it could be problematic if you stop receiving this attention from others, you either have to source new motivation to keep you going, or more likely, stop.
Confident people are full of intrinsic motivation, they don’t need someone else to tell them what they need to achieve and take personal responsibility for their actions, having a belief in their wider vision.
But how can we increase this internal motivation from within?
Successful, confident people with high intrinsic motivation realise the following:
Have a Clear Why
“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”Mark Twain
In his best-selling book Start with Why, Simon Sinek accounts what drove the Wright Brothers to achieve flight using a heavier than air powered aircraft.
During this time, their biggest competition was Samuel Pierpoint Langley, he was the favourite to achieve this feat, which made him a celebrity of his time, with the press following him everywhere ready to capture the historic moment.
Pierpoint was also well connected with the support of big business men, the government, and had access to the best tech and minds of that era.
Despite these odds, it was Orville and Wilbur Wright who took flight first near Kitty Hawk in 1903.
Sinek attributes this success to the Wright Brothers having a clear why – they dreamed of making a man fly.
When you compare the Wright Brothers and Langley further, it’s a good example of the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.
Langley was largely motivated by the extrinsic, being given a massive sum of money for it’s time, $50,000 from the War Department, surrounded by constant social validation and praise for his efforts as his team attempted to achieve this goal.
The Wright Brothers were working of intrinsic motivation, so driven in their vision, accounts were reported of the brothers copying the wing movements of birds to understand the mechanics of flight!
Not only did they not mind looking ridiculous to achieve their goal, the whole operation was a DIY approach, with a plane engine designed by one of their bike mechanics, and funding provided from small profits the shop made.
With such confidence in their belief of making a man fly, they returned several times to their bike shop in Ohio, to learn lessons and replenish funds, before heading back to the windy spot they’d identified in North Carolina, where the first task was often repairing their lodgings which had been destroyed by the harsh weather conditions.
The Wright Brothers were not driven by extrinsic validation – when Flyer I took off in the air for the first time, they had no one watching except a small number of volunteers and interest locals. This historical event was so low key that it didn’t officially get reported in the media until much later.
The lesson is simple if you have a clear purpose and vision with your goals – your why, you’ll have that confidence to keep persisting to achieve them.
Understand consequence of inaction.
There is an approach managers apply to encourage organisation staff to changes. It’s pretty simple:
“If we don’t change, then this [bad thing] will happen…”
For example, a company looking to implement a new IT system, may respond to pushback cries of “We’ve always done things this way?”
Leadership will respond using this “If we don’t change…” script.
“Look, the executive management team at Faceless Corp understand your concerns, but if we don’t change, then we will not be able to keep up with our competition, and may have to downsize our staff…”
The employees understandably are frustrated at having to learn how to use the computer programmes to do their job, and may reluctantly grumble at the prospect of the change, but now approach the change with a bit more acceptance.
In other words, they have been extrinsically motivated by the threat of losing job security.
Reading back, I realise how crude this example is, it sounds like a horrible company to work for, if this was a real situation hopefully they would be much more emphatic, and there would be more support and training to help their staff adjust to the change.
If the company had a clear why, which the workforce is fully invested in, then they maybe get more intrinsic motivation from staff getting involved to support the change.
By understanding this simple change management theory, you can understand how you can inspire some motivation from within – simply by setting a sense of dread in yourself so you realise the consequences if you are lazy and don’t work on your goals!
“If I don’t change, then…”
- I will be unhappy with how my body looks and feel physically unattractive.
- I will never be able to establish a happy fulfilling relationship.
- I will never change jobs and be unhappy with my career.
- I will never write that book and hate myself for never sharing my brilliance.
- I will always have low self-esteem and be taken advantage of it by others.
You can see how using dread can be quite self-depreciating, but often successful people use their mortality as a motivator. Gary V when once asked for inspiration famously said
“You’re going to die.”
The meaning is clear – if you can’t inspire extrinsic motivation from within, then on the day you die you’ll wished you had made the effort.
The risk with this approach as a primary method to motivate you is it can be deeply depressing, and leave you unsatisfied feeling like whatever you have achieved, still isn’t enough.
Which is why you should always keep practicing gratitude – recognise all the good things you already have and appreciate all the things you’ve achieved.
To continue quoting Gary V:
“Whenever I have lost a deal to a competitor, or an incredible employee, or millions of dollars in revenue, I default to gratitude. Why? Because I recognize that even if bought the Jets tomorrow, none of it would matter to me at all if I got a call the next day that someone I love was sick or had died.”
The problem a lot of people suffer with their motivation is the lack of urgency, therefore the solution is simple, live everyday like it’s your last – work on goals that inspire and fulfil you, be grateful for everything you do have and make sure to love and appreciate those closest to you.
Establish clear routines and habits
Have you ever noticed when you start a new interest it seems much harder to find the motivation? Yet after a while in your routine it becomes such a habit you no longer need to think about doing it, it just happens?
What’s that about?
Author of Atomic Habits James Clear notes motivation comes after starting a new behaviour, not before. Therefore, when you are working on a new goal, make sure it becomes a part of your daily routine, it will become such a habit you won’t need to psyche yourself up.
Having a clear schedule eliminates the need to make decisions. If you workout at 6am everyday as per usual routine, you don’t need to think “shall I work out this morning, at lunch time or just before bed?”
Not enough routine and too many decisions, increases the possibility of not bothering to even try.
Bodybuilders, recognise this by preparing meals in large quantities. By carrying out this ritual it means they eliminate the need for decisions, the possibility of errors, or being tempted by foods which take them away from their end goal.
Decision making requires motivation, and we only have so much of that in day, so it’s important if you can remove as many small unnecessary decisions out of your day, so you can apply the energy to your goals.
Remember: The most successful people have clear routines, and schedule when they do everything – when they wake up, workout, read, work…. so, whatever your goal set a schedule around them so you know when you are going to do the work.
Just as a final note, you should consider the importance of momentum with motivation. The hardest part of writing for example is being able to write those words on a blank page, which is why I recommend approaches like the 10-minute rule, which encourages you to start, and give permission to stop if you are unable to progress. Most of the time inspiration kicks in to keep you going longer.
If you’re a blog writer you should check out my post The Blog Writers Guide to Overcome Writers Block to kick start your motivation around a slump.
You may have heard of growth mindset – that is a person who believes they have the potential to grow and improve through continued effort and persistence.
The opposite is a fixed mindset, where the person believes their abilities are fixed and cannot be changed.
(Definition provided by: Screw the Nine to Five: The Difference Between a Growth Mindset And A Fixed Mindset)
When you have a fixed mindset, this will impact your extrinsic motivation, meaning you lack the persistence to keep working at a task after failing, as you believe you have reached the limit of your abilities, you won’t have the motivation to continue.
If you are one these types of people, start changing your outlook, recognise you can do anything you set your mind to, use feedback as an opportunity to grow, be inspired by others and keep trying new things. You are what you believe, and you will never be motivated to achieve your goals, adopted a growth mindset and be hungry for success!
During my research for this article, I kept coming across the same word – hungry.
- The Rock is so succesful in everything he does… because he is so hungry!
- Gary V explains the secret behind staying motivated… be hungry!
- Arnold Schwarzenegger attributes his hunger to why he was able to make his mark.
This is an interesting term to use to refer to motivation, by its most basic definition to be hungry means you have a craving to eat.
We enjoy food as it gives us the energy to keep on living, if we don’t eat, we will starve.
At a primal level there is no greater extrinsic motivation, this is not something we can do without, because if we choose to do nothing – we die.
When a certain personality type view their goals on the same level as their basic survival needs, they have a relentless appetite to make sure this doesn’t stop that pursuit.
For most of us our motivation can be quelled when we start thinking about our fears – someone will laugh at our failures, judge our ambitions, or tell us we should be spending our lives pursuing something else.
Recently I watched a group of Kenyan hunters, they’d come across a pack of lions with it’s kill, motivated by their hunger and the hunger of their families they bravely overlooked the threat that the lion could rip them apart at any second, working as a team to harass the lions who eventually run from the threat of the tribesmen, who get a nice cut of meat before the lions return!
Someone who is hungry is fearless. They have no regard for the consequences, they fail and keep going back, they lose and learn their lessons, they put on a brave face when humiliated, they may even risk death…
Learn to harness that feeling of hunger, a motivation so bad nothing will stop you from putting in the steps to achieving your goal
How motivation works:
- Motivation can be fueled by extrinsic (inspired by external sources) or intrinsic (comes from within).
- How much of this motivation you have depends how much you want the desired end state.
- When achieving goals consider how to boost your intrinsic motivation to encourage you to keep working more efficiently.
How to boost:
- Have a clear why for what you want to achieve, this will provide you with the vision and drive to keep working on it
- Instill a feeling a dread in your mind of what the consequence of inaction is, this can simply be a realisation you will maintain your status quo if you do nothing, or something a bit more morbid, like regretting on your death bed, that you didn’t take more risks.
- Work on having a clear routine and habit of everything you do. By scheduling you avoid wasting time having to make decisions and finding sources of extrinsic motivation.
- Ensure you have a growth mindset – believe you can improve and get better. If your mindset is fixed then you are inadvertently setting the false belief you’ve reached a limit.
- Be hungry with your ambitions – this means being fearless in what you pursue, where nothing will stop you from taking the steps to achieving your goal.
It’s you vs you…
When finding motivation to do that task you’ve been putting off, the biggest rival is yourself!
Therefore, make sure to approach your day with passion and find enjoyment in what you do. This is the secret of highly motivated people; they do not need to be directed in their goals.
In life you will come across duties you aren’t enthused to do like cleaning the house or doing gardening. If you can’t outsource this work, then use intrinsic methods to increase motivation – for example by listening to music or rewarding yourself with a visit to a restaurant.
In this post I’ve shared some ideas how to increase that extrinsic motivation, this can be used to help you understand why you keep procrastinating and drive your self-belief to achieve your dream.
What other ways do inspire motivation in yourself?
Wishing you the best of success.
James @Perfect Manifesto.
References & Inspiration:
Busby et al (2014), The Effective Change Manager’s Handbook, Kogan Page
Carro, Guillermina (2019), GQ India: The key to not leaving the gym and staying motivated, according to The Rock
Cherry, Kendra (2020), Very Well Mind: What Is Motivation?
Clear, James (2018), Atomic Habits, Random House Business
Clear, James: Motivation: The Scientific Guide on How to Get and Stay Motivated
Fishbach, Ayelet (2018), Harvard Business Review: How to Keep Working When You’re Just Not Feeling It
Flynn, Suzie, Screw the Nine to Five: The Differences Between A Growth Mindset And A Fixed Mindset
FS Blog: How Clever Leaders Overcome More Talented and Better Funded Competitors
McCullough, David (2016): The Wright Brothers: The Dramatic Story-Behind-the-Story, Simon & Schuster UK
Shredded Academy: The Rock Reveals His Secret to Staying Motivated
Sinek, Simon (2011): Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, Penguin
Vaynerchuk, Gary (2017): Two Secrets to Staying Motivated & Hungry
if you want to keep a handy copy of this post – then you can download a copy from gumroad for absolutely free!
Get it now! How Confident People Stay Motivated (2021), by James M. Lane
13 thoughts on “How Confident People Stay Motivated”
My motivation can tank at the drop of a hat, but then I’m clinically depressed, which doesn’t help. As such, procrastination is high. It improved briefly when I was on antidepressants, but they ended up causing psychosis at the same time. Fun. Hopefully the next one I try will work out better, then maybe, my discipline will help keep everything on track
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Damn that really sucks! Hopefully they will workout and help with how you feel and have more motivation.
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I read Dr Steve Peters book The Chimp Paradox and recall a section were he said we shouldn’t rely on motivation alone, as motivation can come and go so easily. Instead we should make a commitment to whatever goal we have, as a commitment to ourselves can get us moving on it whenever we look for any reason not to. I’ve often found this really useful.
Thanks for your post, really interesting,
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Thanks for your comment Paul, glad you found it useful.
That’s interesting to note and feeling motivation come and go is something I can relate to! I’ve never read this book but will look into it!
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It’s a fascinating book and one that, unlike a lot of books I’ve read that could be termed self-help, it’s one I regularly dip back into. If you do read it I’d be interested to know what you think of it. But either way, enjoyed your post, thanks for your reply.
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Whoa, what a comprehensive article. The ‘understanding the consequence of inaction’ is a big one for me, because I tend to stay inert A LOT, and if I could only associate terrible things to that, I think I could be a tad more productive. Anyway, thanks for this post!
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Thanks for checking out my words! I think understanding consequence of inaction is an interesting one as its probably the biggest self improvement trope to hear ‘regrets for what you didn’t do on your death bed’ despite this people still procrastinate taking action. I guess it has similarities to an alcoholic who knows drinking is bad for them but cant stop.
How to find motivation? I find I do best when I am happy and excited to do something. Exercise? I choose to walk, so after work I change, stop by a park and walk. I’m happy to do it, because I GET to go for a walk! When I write? I’m happy because I GET to share my thoughts and I GET to encourage others!
By framing my thoughts that I GET to do XYZ, I feel privileged to be able to do it and then I feel grateful!
This in turn helps me to look forgot doing MORE!
When I told myself I HAVE to do XYZ, it created dread, and I needed to conjure up motivation to do it!
Having flipped the script, I feel lucky to participate in things which make me happy!!
what an impressive post, James. I loved all the research, and the Gary V quotes. I believe that a combination of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is needed for us to reach our goals. And speaking of hungry, one of my favorite quotes is “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.” I first heard of it from Steve Jobs’s graduation speech at Stanford, which he originally took from last page of the Whole Earth Catalog published in October 1974. Talk bout motivating; his 20 minutes speech is inspirational…
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Thanks very much Jim! I really enjoyed writing this one – with it being my most extensive piece I wasnt sure how many people would read it, so really grateful for you checking it out and commenting!
I think that combination is needed especially for doing new things were you might not always have routine going, though I admit even for the most established habit I need extrinsic motivation.
That’s an interesting quote had to look up its meaning but now I get it. I’ve seen clips of that graduation video but will check out the full speech.
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I did enjoy reading your post, provides good motivation!
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