What Is Motivation?

What is Motivation? Principles, Theories & How it Works

What Is Motivation?

Motivation comes from the root “motive” and defines the driving reasons behind our actions and behaviors. It’s a physiological desire fueled by specific internal or external rewards or incentives. There are many variations of motivation best for different situations, but all motivational-types are comprised of three similar components you can use to increase overall motivation.

By understanding the science and theories behind motivation, its types and their component parts, you can increase your motivation as well as motivate others in the pursuit of higher-level goals. Read this article for the ins-and-outs of motivation and how to harness it to achieve your dreams.

How Motivation Works

Motivation identifies the specific why behind someone’s thoughts and actions and is typically explained by either internal or external rewards or incentives.

Motivation driven by internal factors is known as intrinsic motivation while externally-driven motivation is known as extrinsic motivation.

Within these two motivational-types are many variations that point to a specific motivating reward or incentive.

For example, those motivated by internal factors may be driven to get a promotion because of the learning and personal growth while those motivated by external factors may be driven to get a promotion because of the raise. Neither is bad, but both types are explained by a separate and unique motivating incentive or reward.

This means that if you can identify your underlying motivating factor you can use it to increase your motivation.

To help, there are many motivational theories that use a blend of biology and sociology to point out and explain why people are motivated by specific rewards or incentives.

None are perfect, but most provide insight into the inner-workings of the human mind and how we can motivate ourselves.

The same also goes for motivating others. Some people around you will be more motivated by an internal driver while others are motivated by an external factor. The key is to identify the motivating factor of the individual (or group of individuals) and focus on cultivating that that in an effort to increase desire, action, and performance.

Ultimately, whether you’re trying to motivate yourself or others, remember the following:

  • Motivation is a specific internal or external reward or incentive
  • All motivational-types are typically comprised of three interdependent parts
  • Most people are motivated by biological needs, emotional wants, or social desires
  • Identifying the underlying “motive behind the need, want, or desire can increase motivation

3 Main Components of Motivation

Motivation may appear to be an abstract concept, but it actually consists of three interdependent parts. The three key components of motivation are activation, intensity, and persistence.

These three components work together and compel people to act in a certain way.

Understanding these components will help you better cultivate motivation as well as better understand the types and theories that come next.

1. Activation

Activation represents the decision to commence a behavior in order to achieve a reward or incentive. Also known as direction, activation involves committing to action in pursuit of a greater goal, such as taking a coding class in order to make a career-change or saving money in order to retire early.

Think of this first component as action. Regardless of the motivational-type and the specific incentive or reward, at the end of the day, all motivation starts with action. For this reason, the level of activation will be largely dependent on the importance of the reward or incentive you’re trying to achieve.

2. Intensity

Intensity is the dedication and effort committed to pursuing a reward and is driven by your expertise and level of desire.

For example, those who demonstrate high intensity strongly desire something and will effectively prioritize their time, energy, or resources to get it. However, not all individuals operate with the same intensity.

For some, it may take less effort while others need higher levels of intensity to achieve the same thing.

For example, a student who easily grasps material and doesn’t need to devote much time to studying demonstrates low intensity.

Conversely, A student who needs to study hard in order to get the same grades demonstrates greater intensity.

This means that high or low intensity isn’t necessarily bad or good, but that intensity is the degree to which you must take action in order to achieve your desired reward.

3. Persistence

Persistence represents the ability to stay on course through challenges or setbacks and maintain your required action and intensity over time in order to achieve your reward.

As I’m sure you know, often it’s not just action and intensity that will cultivate the motivation necessary to achieve your dreams.

You’ll also need a healthy level of persistence because anything worth achieving will take time and will need consistent effort.

Types of Motivation

All motivation includes the components above, regardless of the type or theory behind the motivating driver.

That said, there are typically two broad types of motivation: Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation represents all internal rewards or incentives while extrinsic motivation represents all external rewards or incentives. Together, they represent all internal or external “motives”.

These motivational types shouldn’t be confused with motivational theories. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation define the broad incentives or rewards that drive our desires while motivational theories suggest specific ways to increase motivation specific drivers. Let’s look at intrinsic and extrinsic motivation first and then move onto the theories which use them.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation refers to someone’s internal drivers. Behaviors driven by intrinsic motivation are implicitly rewarding or satisfying to an individual and are typically not dependent on anyone else to achieve. An example of this is someone who learns an instrument for enjoyment, challenges themselves with games or puzzles, or takes a class to indulge their curiosity.

There is no external reward money or praise driving these behaviors. Instead, it’s an internal reward the joy of learning driving these actions.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that intrinsic motivation is better or worse than extrinsic motivation.

Still, it’s often a good idea to identify a motivating factor within your control rather than basing it on something given to you, an award or praise.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation represents behavior driven by external rewards. Extrinsic motivation is typically used in situations when the action or reward for performing such action may not be personally satisfying. These rewards can be tangible, such as money or a prize, or intangible, such as praise or public recognition, but are typically not within your direct control.

For example, if you’re motivated to do a good job because of the incentive of a raise, you’re externally motivated. Using another example, writing a screenplay in the hopes of earning an Academy Award is an extrinsically motivating factor. Neither is bad, but the best solution is perhaps to find something that is intrinsically rewarding but also has an external incentive if achieved.

Tip: Within each of these broad types are more granular variations that point out specific external or internal motivating factors. For more information on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and their sub-types, check out my article on the top types of motivation and which one is best for you.

Top Motivational Theories

There are many theories on what motivation is, the rationale for why it exists, the specific internal or external drivers behind it, and the process for cultivating it within yourself and others. To help, I’ve put together a short list of the best theories below. However, if you want to learn more about each, be sure to check out my in-depth article on the top motivational theories.

Here’s the truncated list of the best motivational theories to know and use:

  • Expectancy Theory of Motivation: States that people are motivated by the expected result of their actions, and the more sure someone is of the result, the more motivated they are to take action.
  • Equity Theory of Motivation: Posits that people are motivated by their perceived level of fairness rather than a reward or expectation. The more fair things are, the more motivated people are.
  • Arousal Theory of Motivation: This theory explains that a person’s level of motivation is equal to their mental alertness or “arousal”. However, if arousal becomes too high or low, it causes demotivation.
  • Goal-Setting Theory of Motivation: Self-explanatory theory stating that challenging goals can be motivating. If you want to learn more, check out my article on SMART goal-setting.
  • Acquired Needs Theory of Motivation: States that people are motivated by their desire to acquire achievement, power, and social affiliation. More of these desires results in more motivation.
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory: Well-known theory stating that people are motivated by five specific needs, and can only move onto the next need after the previous one is fulfilled.
  • Three-Dimensional Theory of Attribution – Attempts to explain how people interpret events and how those interpretations affect their motivation. If we view an event positively we will be more motivated to have that event recur.

While these are all important theories of motivation, it only scratches the surface on the breadth and depth of this motivational topic. If you want to see the full list of top motivational theories, be sure to follow the link above and read my full article on motivational theories.

How to Motivate Yourself & Others

While there are many motivational tips and strategies that can help motivate yourself and others, I’ve found that you can break down the process into a few tried-and-true steps. These are my own experiences trying to motivate myself as well as those around me, both in workplaces as well as in other social settings.

How to Motivate Yourself

Motivating yourself is the first step towards achieving much of anything. Self-motivation is unique to the individual, but when I need to motivate myself I typically do the following:

  1. Make sure I have a positive outlook and growth mindset
  2. Ensure I understand my ultimate end-goal
  3. Identify the “why” behind my desire to achieve said goal
  4. Create a series of smaller stretch goals that help me get closer to my ultimate end goal
  5. Find an accountability partner you can use to keep yourself accountable
  6. Celebrate each of these small wins as you approach your larger goals
  7. Always focus on the process and the learning experiences along the way
  8. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture as you focus on the smaller goals

For more information on the repeatable steps you can use to self-motivate, check out my article on how to motivate yourself in eight key steps

How to Motivate Other People

Even though it may seem similar, motivating other people is different from motivating yourself. Often times, this happens in the workplace and you want to motivate a team member or employee. If you need to do this, try the following, which has worked for me as a leader of a larger team:

  1. Understand the person’s personality type
  2. Help them learn the skills necessary to be successful
  3. Come up with a set of shared goals and expectations
  4. Give the person a sense of autonomy over their day-to-day work
  5. Make sure you give them consistent feedback and coaching
  6. Praise them when there is work well-done and coach them when they need to improve

For more information, read the full article on how to motivate other people to succeed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Motivation in Business?

Business-related motivation can be either self-motivation or the motivation of individuals or teams. Typically, it represents motivation driven by external rewards a raise or praise. However, internally-driven motivation in a business-setting can often be just as powerful and rewarding, if not more so.

What is Motivation in Management?

business motivation, motivation in management is a tool used in a company setting where managers use motivation to inspire their team. For this reason, it is usually focused on team-level motivation but also includes individual motivation for a manager’s direct reports.

What is Motivation in Psychology?

Motivation in psychology is usually related to the academic theories of motivation rather than applied science. Still, psychological discussions about motivation can still be valuable because it can help dissect the biological and sociological reasons behind someone’s motivation.

What is Motivation in Education?

Similar to motivation in psychology, motivation in education is related to the academic theories and research meant to explain motivation rather than the applied science. For this reason, many students or people in school-settings seek academic research rather than actionable tactics on motivation.


Motivation is often something that seems intangible and ephemeral, but you can motivate yourself and others consistently if you follow a few directions. Remember that all motivation is some sort of internal or external incentive, and if you’re able to identify that and create an environment that supports the pursuit of that incentive, you will become more motivated over time.

Источник: https://www.evantarver.com/what-is-motivation/

What is motivation? Definition and meaning

What Is Motivation?

Motivation is why a person acts or behaves in a particular way. It also drives people’s willingness and desire to do something. When there is motivation, there is enthusiasm. Motivation is an internal phenomenon, i.e., it is within us. It drives us to behave and act in certain ways.

The term ‘motivation’ may also refer to a set of arguments or facts we use when supporting a proposal. Look at the following sentence: “We submit the following proposal and motivation for consideration.”

In the world of business and management, motivation has a specific meaning. It is all about the factors that encourage individuals to be continually committed and interested in their jobs.

Motivational factors help people push themselves to reach a goal or objective.

Some people are easy to motivate if one offers them a financial incentive. Financial incentives include monetary rewards, bonuses, commissions, or tax deductions.

The BBC says the following regarding motivation in a business context:

“Motivation is about the ways a business can encourage staff to give their best. Motivated staff care about the success of the business and work better.”

Motivation vs. happiness

A ‘happy’ employee is not necessarily one with motivation. Although they are similar, the two words do not have the same meaning. A worker may be extremely happy but does very little work.

Motivated workers want to perform, even if they are unhappy. When motivation pushes us to reach a goal, and we reach it, we’re usually happy.

However, that happiness is just a consequence of having a sense of achievement. When what we have done pleases us, we are generally happy.

A workforce that is adequately motivated to excel will be more productive. Their sense of commitment will also be stronger. The workers will invest more of themselves in what they are doing.

Motivation vs. incentive

Although motivation and incentive may appear similar, their meanings are, in fact, different.

If I want you to ‘want what I want,’ the best way is to pay you a lot of money. Therefore, money is your incentive.

As soon as I stop paying you, you stop ‘wanting what I want.’ You only wanted what I wanted while the incentive, i.e., money, was there.

Motivation, on the other hand, is a force within you. It is a force to which you commit yourself.

People who are motivated are more generally enthusiastic about doing something for its own sake.

Perhaps because they think it is important and that their function matters. Therefore, they take pride in what they are doing.

If you want a team of people to work hard and well for you, it is possible to dangle lots of money. In other words, you can use financial incentives and achieve your purpose that way.

Workers are more effective if they care about what they do because they believe in it. In other words, because they are motivated.

Money is only part of it

This does not mean that money is not a motivator. In fact, it often is.

However, if you give employees more autonomy, their motivation will grow dramatically. It will also grow if you allow them to bring their own ideas into the work process.

Put simply; incentive depends entirely on the promise of something from outside, i.e., something external. Motivation, on the other hand, is inside the individual, i.e., it is internal.

If your workers have no pride in their work, their ability to perform effectively is only temporary. They will look for a position where they can derive pride from their work. In other words, they will seek employment in a place where their work makes them feel good.

Motivation vs. inspiration

Many of us regularly use the words ‘motivated’ and ‘inspired’ interchangeably. While the two terms may appear similar, there is a difference.

Motivation builds in people’s mindset. It gathers their senses and pulls them up from laziness and inactivity to achieve something, to build something. It makes people feel good about their function.

When we are motivated, we work harder and better and are subsequently more successful. People with motivation have a good sense of self-worth.

A motivated mind is highly energized – it can be taken into any direction. The direction it takes you is your inspiration.

MOTIVATION QUOTE: Confucius (551-479 BC) a Chinese philosopher, teacher, editor and politician, once said: “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” (Image: biography.com)

Inspiration – the light-bulb

Inspiration is that little light-bulb we see in thought clouds in cartoons – an idea that tells your mind to be creative. It shows you the path that you should follow.

If inspiration is the seed, motivation is the water. We can sow many seeds, but they will only grow with water. Inspiration does not get anywhere without motivation.

We need motivation to accomplish things. Typically, in the realm of motivation, there is a lot of ‘measuring’ – checklists, goal posts, targets, etc. Inspiration, on the other hand, is magnetic. Inspiration’s reasoning does have to make sense, i.e., you just ‘gotta do it!’

Danielle LaPorte says on her website:

“What is motivating you, i.e., pushing you?”

“What is inspiring you, i.e., pulling you?

MOTIVATION QUOTE: Winston Churchill (1874-1965) once said: “Never, never, never give up.” (Image: churchillcentral.com)

Managers and motivation

The responsibility to motivate employees to do a good job lies with their managers. They encourage their workers to be productive and effective.

How employees are motivated depends on several factors, including their age, socioeconomic and academic level, national culture, and the availability of work elsewhere.

Example of national culture

In Japan, when workers call in sick, their immediate manager will probably visit them at home after work. This is a form of encouragement, i.e., the boss cares about his or her workers.

If this happened in the USA, UK, or other Western nations, the worker would probably think the manager was suspicious. The worker might wonder whether the boss only came to determine whether he or she really was ill.

If you are a manager and want to encourage productivity, you should work to make sure your employees:

  • take pride in their work, feel that what they do is important and has meaning,
  • believe that you will reward them for good work, and
  • feel that you are treating them fairly.

Motivation, intelligence or imagination, cannot be observed directly. It is inferred by observing an individual’s behavior.

The five levels of motivation described by Abraham Maslow.

Motivation theories

Researchers have put forward theories that attempt to explain motivation in human beings. These theories include Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory and Drive Reduction Theories.

Drive Reduction Theories

These are theories of motivation developed by Clark L. Hull (1884-1952), an American psychologist. Hull proposed that individuals’ behaviors are external displays of their desire to satisfy physical deficiencies.

He believed that people have motivation to act in a certain way in order to minimize needs and maintain a constant physiological state. For example, we consume nourishment in order to reduce our need for food, or we drink water to avoid feeling thirsty.

Hull said that a ‘drive’ is a state of tension or arousal triggered by our physiological or biological needs. These needs include thirst, hunger, sex, need for warmth, etc. In his theory, he stated that drives give rise to our motivation.

Central to the drive reduction theories is homeostasis – keeping conditions within our bodies in a state of equilibrium (maintenance of a constant internal environment).

Hull’s theories failed to explain several aspects of motivation, such as why some people fast for long periods in protest, despite experiencing extreme hunger, or why individuals continue eating even after they are no longer hungry.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), an American psychologist, proposed – in his 1943 paper ‘A Theory of Human Motivation,’ which was published in Psychological Review – that humans are motivated by a hierarchy of needs.

  • Level 1: our most basic physiological needs, including the need to drink, eat, to be safe, and have somewhere dry and warm to live in. If we do not meet those needs, our bodies cannot function properly and will ultimately fail.
  • Level 2: our needs for social interaction, such as the need to belong. This need is more acute during childhood and may sometimes override the need for safety. That is why many children with abusive parents do not want to separate from them.
  • Level 3: our needs for esteem, which include our desire and need for respect for ourselves and from others. Esteem presents our typical desire for other humans to accept and value us. Individuals commonly engage in a hobby or profession to gain recognition. These activities give us a sense of value or contribution. Most of us have a need for stable self-respect as well as self-esteem.
  • Level 4: This is where we strive to realize our full potential – through our needs for self-actualization. Maslow once said: “What a man can be, he must be.”

Gains Sharing is an effective way to boost worker motivation. Each worker who manages to boost productivity or reduce waste gets a bonus.

Источник: https://marketbusinessnews.com/financial-glossary/motivation-definition-meaning/

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