Motivation – 4 Sources Of Motivation For Clever People

Clever Content

  • Why is understanding motivation important?
  • What is motivation?
  • What are the 4 main sources of motivation?
    • Extrinsic
    • Intrinsic
    • Introjected
    • Identified
  • What to watch out for
    • Amotivation

Why is understanding motivation important?

Understanding motivation is important in every part of your life. Finding the right combination of motivators will help you stay motivated even through the tougher parts of your day.

When you know how to stay motivated and achieve your goals, your self-esteem and overall sense of well-being will improve. Your self-confidence will grow along with your success and your performance will improve. You will soon start to achieve more than your less-positive counterparts as your success builds on success.

What is motivation?

Motivation is the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. It is what causes you to act, whether it is getting a glass of water to reduce thirst or reading a book to gain knowledge. Motivation involves the biological, emotional, social, and cognitive forces that activate behavior.

It is important to understand what motivates you (and other people). Understanding the main types of motivation will help you find the motivation you need to achieve your best in any area you choose.

What are the 4 main sources of motivation?

Extrinsic Motivation (External)

This form of motivation comes from things that are external to us. We do things because we are told to by someone who has power over us, such as our boss at work.

Extrinsic motivation is when we complete a task for external rewards, such as getting paid.

This type of motivation works for more simple tasks but being motivated for other reasons in addition to the external reward is much better.

Intrinsic Motivation (Internal)

This is where you are motivated to act for internal, personal reasons. You may be motivated to do something because you are interested in it or through pure pleasure. You may act because of the enjoyment of achieving a personal challenge, to better yourself or through personal interest.

At work, inspiring leaders may be able to generate some intrinsic motivation in their teams.

Introjected Motivation (Guilty mind)

This is your internal voice. The one that  bothers you to do something. It also lets you know how bad you are if you don't do something. It is an internal motivation similar to intrinsic motivation above but the main difference between the two is that if the task it is not completed then you will feel guilty.

For example: You always visit a family member on the weekend but this weekend you were too busy. You may not always enjoy the visits but you feel guilty because you did not go this weekend.

Identified Motivation (Self-improvement)

This is where you recognise that by doing something, it will help you achieve some form of future development. It does not have to be something you like doing and there does not have to be an immediate reward.

For example: You may exercise regularly, you may not always enjoy it, or see any immediate benefit but you know that it will be good for you in the long run.

What to watch out for


This is when you do not have the motivation to do something. You need to work out why this has happened.

"I can't do it"

One of the most common reasons for a lack of motivation is that you do not have the confidence in yourself to achieve the task.

You literally don’t believe that you can do it.

Many people with low self-esteem believe that they are less capable than they actually are so it is a good idea to push yourself. BUT, and this is a big but. Despite all the ‘you can do it’ motivation videos on YouTube, not everyone can do everything so don't be too hard on yourself - it may just not be for you. You can always try something else. 

However much you try to teach a goldfish to climb a tree it never will be able to do it – its a great swimmer though!

‘Why are we doing this?’

The second most common reason for a lack of motivation is not understanding the connection between the actions and the outcomes. The task may seem pointless or a waste of time.

When this happens, you need to look for the links that identify how the action can benefit your overall performance and lead to eventual success for you. 

If you cannot find those links then you may need to change your approach or even the task if you can.

See more Clever Motivation articles coming soon.

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Posted in Entrepreneur, Human Resource Management, Leadership Series, Life, Motivation.