What exactly is motivation?

Motivation,Have you or your team ever lost motivation half way through a long season or in your business life?

Have you ever wondered what you could do to have greater motivation in your sport, business or even just in life?

There have probably been times where you had difficulty getting psyched up for a game or pushing through the drudgery of training. As your season ended, you may have pointed to a lack of motivation as the cause of a sub-par season.


What exactly is motivation?

Motivation is the mental process that starts, sustains and guides our behaviours to get us through training, managing adversity, and achieving our goals.

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation.


Intrinsic motivation refers to internal or personally meaningful rewards, which drives our behaviours. Intrinsically motivated people participate in sport or business for reasons such as:

  • The enjoyment of taking part
  • The challenge of competition
  • The self-achievement of reaching new personal levels

Intrinsically motivated people typically concentrate on skill improvement and their development of self.


Extrinsic motivation refers to behavior that is focused toward achieving external rewards or avoiding punishment.

Extrinsically motivated people who participate in sport or business are driven by rewards such as awards, trophies, scholarships or even media attention. They also tend to try to avoid negative consequences such as being left on the sideline, falling out with their boss or disapproval from respected others.

Extrinsically motivated people tend to focus more on outcomes rather than processes.


Which is better, intrinsic or extrinsic motivation?

Extrinsic rewards are an important element of sport and business. It would be hard to imagine for example sport without trophies or medals.

Extrinsic rewards, when used correctly, can be hugely beneficial for people to succeed.

However, overuse or an over-focus on external rewards can negatively affect your performance by de-motivating you when they are not achieved.

If your primary motivation is extrinsic, a greater amount of competitive anxiety and pressure can occur. If you are constantly comparing yourself unfavourably to others you can find it difficult to deal with failure as you diminish your self-worth.

For this reason, you want the higher amount of your motivation to be intrinsic.

When you increase your level of intrinsic motivation, you will find that you are better equipped to focus in the present moment and are able to maintain a consistent level of motivation for a longer period of time.

Increasing your intrinsic motivation will also allow you to experience far less stress when you make mistakes and create more confidence and greater enjoyment in what you do.


Here are two tips to increase your level of intrinsic motivation:

  1. Create personal meaningful goals and performance objectives that challenge you to improve one aspect of your performance each day.
  1. Write down why you want to achieve these goals. What feelings are you going to get from the accomplishment?

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