Motivation, the force behind goal-oriented behaviors, is not a one-size-fits-all concept. It’s a complex blend of personal aspirations, cultural backgrounds, and psychological factors.

It plays a pivotal role in shaping our professional efficiency, decision-making, and overall well-being. Understanding the factors that drive us – be it intrinsic joy, extrinsic rewards, or family commitments – can lead to more fulfilling and balanced lives.

Understanding motivation will help you succeed. Whether you’re in a bustling office in Manila or a startup in San Francisco, the fuel that drives us all is motivation. But what if the way we think about motivation is just scratching the surface?

Explore: Motivating Others: Unleashing the Power of Influential Leadership

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What is motivation?

Motivation is the force that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. It’s what makes us act, whether it’s grabbing a coffee to wake up or grinding through a late-night work session.

But this definition, while accurate, often confines us within a traditional box. It’s like looking at a vibrant city through a peep hole.

Motivation is not just a simple push towards goals. It is a complex tapestry woven with personal aspirations, cultural influences, and unseen psychological threads. Each thread colors our actions differently, influenced by our unique experiences and backgrounds.

In the Philippines, for example, we have the communal spirit of ‘Bayanihan‘. It might shape our motivation differently than the individualistic drive often seen in Western cultures. Understanding this can be a game-changer in how we approach motivation anywhere.

So, as we dive deeper, think beyond the textbook definition. Motivation dances differently in each culture, yet plays the same fundamental tune in the symphony of human behavior.

Why Motivation Matters

Understand how motivation works and what affects it. It can make a huge difference in both your professional and personal life.

Motivation boosts efficiency at work.

Knowing what motivates you can turn your workday from a slow crawl to a sprint. For example, if you’re driven by meeting client needs (intrinsic motivation), you’ll find ways to work smarter and more effectively to achieve that.

Or, if a potential promotion motivates you (extrinsic motivation), you’ll likely streamline your efforts to meet this goal.

You will align your daily tasks with what drives you, making you more efficient and focused.

It spurs you into action.

Ever had a project you kept putting off? Understanding your motivation can be the push you need. If you love the thrill of a challenge (intrinsic), framing the project as a way to test your skills can get you moving.

If you’re motivated by recognition (extrinsic), think about the accolades that completing the project could bring.

It promotes healthy behaviors.

At work and in life, motivation can lead to healthier choices. Say you’re motivated by personal growth (intrinsic). You might choose to take regular breaks, practice mindfulness, or engage in activities that reduce stress, boosting your overall well-being.

It helps you steer clear of negative behaviors.

It can help you avoid pitfalls like excessive risk-taking or falling into addictive behaviors. Being clear about your motivation makes you intentional.

Recognizing that you’re driven by external validation can help you seek it in healthy ways at work. You will strive for constructive feedback, instead of resorting to less healthy behaviors.

It helps you feel more in control.

When you know what drives you, you’re in the driver’s seat of your life. It’s like having a map and a compass; you know where you want to go and how to get there.

This can make you feel more empowered and confident in both your career and personal decisions.

It enhances overall happiness and well-being.

Being clear about your motivation ties directly to your happiness. When your work aligns with your motivations, it doesn’t just feel like work anymore. It becomes a source of joy and fulfillment.

Whether it’s the satisfaction of doing a job well (intrinsic) or the rewards that come with it (extrinsic), aligning your motivations with your actions can lead to a happier, more fulfilling life.

Know what makes you tick and use that knowledge to navigate both your career and your journey. So, take the time to understand your motivation. It might just be the most important compass you’ll ever use.

We have discussed why motivation matters, let’s discover the different types of motivation.

Types of Motivation

We usually hear about two main types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. But did you know there might be a third type that plays a significant role?

Let’s discover these types.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation shines on the rewards waiting for us outside our passion. In the workplace, extrinsic motivation plays a big role.

It’s about those tangible perks and recognitions that come from doing your job well.

Think about the last time your boss praised you in front of the whole team. Or when you received a bonus for completing a project successfully. That feeling of recognition and reward? That’s extrinsic motivation at work.

Extrinsic motivation is powerful because it comes from our human desire to be acknowledged and rewarded.

Extrinsic motivation takes various forms. Salary hikes, promotions, public recognition, employee of the month awards, and even a simple ‘thank you’ email for a job well done. These are all extrinsic motivators. They come from outside us and often influence our behavior and performance at work.

Research shows that while extrinsic motivators are effective, their impact can be short-lived. Their effect can diminish over time if not accompanied by intrinsic motivators.

This doesn’t mean that extrinsic motivation isn’t valuable. It plays a crucial role, especially in tasks where immediate results are needed. For instance, offering a bonus for meeting a tight deadline can significantly boost team performance. Sales incentives in the form of commissions can lead to higher productivity.

However, relying solely on extrinsic motivation can be a double-edged sword. If employees feel that the only value in their job comes from external rewards, they might not find long-term satisfaction or loyalty to the company.

This is why it’s important to balance extrinsic motivators with intrinsic ones.

Understanding the power of extrinsic motivation is crucial for leaders. It can be a valuable tool for encouraging short-term goals and boosting morale. It only requires simple actions. Recognize an employee’s effort publicly. Offer professional development opportunities. Or providing financial incentives for specific achievements.

Combine these external rewards with opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Extrinsic motivation in the workplace is a catalyst. It speeds up the reaction, gets things done, and brings immediate results. But it should be part of a larger strategy that also includes intrinsic motivation.

Create a work environment where external rewards are given, but not the only reason why people love their jobs.

Let’s now explore intrinsic motivation.

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Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is a journey inward, a quest to find what makes us tick. It’s not about the shiny trophies or the applause. No, it’s about that inner joy and satisfaction you feel when you’re doing something you truly love.

In the workplace, intrinsic motivation is the secret sauce that fuels passion and purpose. It drives us to excel not for external rewards, but for the sheer love of what we do.

Think about a time when you were so absorbed in a work task that hours flew by without you even noticing. Maybe you were crafting a creative solution to a complex problem or mentoring a younger colleague. That’s intrinsic motivation in action.

It’s when your work aligns with your personal interests and values. It makes even challenging tasks feel rewarding and meaningful.

In the context of intrinsic motivation, passion and purpose are two sides of the same coin. Passion is the fire that lights up when we’re doing something we love, while purpose is the direction that fire takes us.

When your work resonates with your personal passions and gives you a sense of purpose, that’s intrinsic motivation at its finest.

One fascinating concept that embodies this idea is Ikigai, a Japanese term that roughly translates to “a reason for being.” Ikigai lies at the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can be paid for. Ikigai encapsulates the essence of intrinsic motivation.

You find joy and fulfillment in what you do because it aligns with your deeper values and strengths.

When employees engage in work they find intrinsically rewarding, they are more likely to be creative, committed, and satisfied. Intrinsic motivation fosters a positive work environment where innovation thrives.

So, how can you tap into this intrinsic motivation?

Start by reflecting on what aspects of your job you genuinely enjoy. Is it solving complex problems, or working collaboratively with a team? Is it making a positive impact on others? Identifying these elements can help you align your work with your passions and purpose.

For leaders, foster an environment that nurtures intrinsic motivation. You may provide opportunities for employees to work on projects they’re passionate about. Offer autonomy in how they complete tasks. Or create a workplace culture that values creativity and personal growth.

Intrinsic motivation is a river that never runs dry. It’s not dependent on external rewards or recognition. Instead, it’s powered by an inner drive and a deep connection to the work itself. Employees don’t just work for a paycheck; they work because what they do matters to them on a personal level.

Intrinsic motivation is a crucial component of a fulfilling career. It’s about finding joy in the journey, not just the destination.

Family Motivation

When we talk about what drives us in our jobs, we often overlook a powerful motivator that’s deeply rooted in our personal lives – our family. Family motivation transcends the usual categories of intrinsic and extrinsic. It’s a profound force, often guiding our career choices and sacrifices more than we realize.

Let’s consider the example of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

The decision to work abroad isn’t about personal ambition or seeking external rewards. It’s about family. They provide for them. They secure their future. And often, sacrifice personal happiness in the process. This deep-seated value highlights how family can be a compelling motivator. It outweighs personal desires and external incentives.

In the Philippines, the concept of family goes beyond the nuclear unit. It encompasses extended family and even the community at large. This cultural perspective shapes professional choices.

Filipinos are known for their strong family ties. And this often drives their decision to work in challenging conditions abroad. The remittances sent back home by OFWs are not just financial transactions; they’re expressions of love, duty, and a deep sense of responsibility towards family.

I am not saying that only OFWs sacrifice for their families. I used OFWs here as examples. I am not working abroad, but I also love my family. And like most Filipinos, I am willing to sacrifice for my family.

However, this motivation extends beyond the Filipino community. Across the globe, many people prioritize family over personal achievements or rewards. Parents might choose jobs that offer flexibility over higher-paying ones to spend more time with their children. Others might pass up a dream job opportunity in another city to stay close to aging parents.

Research in organizational psychology acknowledges the impact of family on work motivation. Employees with a strong sense of family responsibility are often more committed and loyal to their organizations. They tend to value job security and workplace policies that support family needs, like parental leave or childcare support.

For workplace leaders, understanding the role of family motivation can be a game-changer. It means creating a work environment that respects and supports employees’ family commitments.

Consider flexible working arrangements. Create family-friendly policies and a culture that recognizes the importance of work-life balance.

Recognize family as a key motivator that can also guide how we interact with our colleagues. Understand that a team member might be working hard not just for personal gain. Perhaps, they support their family. You can foster a more empathetic and supportive workplace culture.

For many of us, family is the ultimate motivator. Our professional lives are deeply intertwined with our personal ones. Acknowledge and respect this to create a more inclusive, understanding, and motivated workforce.

In a world where work often takes center stage, remembering the value of family can help us maintain a healthy and fulfilling balance.

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10 Negative Outcomes of Low Motivation

When people experience low motivation, it can lead to a variety of negative outcomes, both for individuals and for the organizations or groups they are part of. Here are some of the key consequences:

1. Decreased Productivity

Low motivation often results in reduced efficiency and output. People may take longer to complete tasks, or they might produce work of lower quality because they lack the drive to perform at their best.

2. Reduced Quality of Work

Along with a drop in productivity, the quality of work often suffers. This is because low motivation can lead to a lack of attention to detail and a decrease in the effort put into tasks.

3. Increased Absenteeism and Tardiness

Individuals who are not motivated are more likely to miss work, arrive late, or leave early. This behavior not only affects their performance but can also have a ripple effect on the morale and productivity of their colleagues.

4. Higher Turnover Rates

Employees who feel unmotivated are more likely to seek employment elsewhere. This can lead to higher turnover rates, which can be costly for organizations in terms of recruitment and training of new employees.

5. Low Morale and Job Dissatisfaction

Low motivation often goes hand in hand with low morale and dissatisfaction with one’s job. This can create a negative working environment, affecting not just the individual but also their colleagues.

6. Impaired Team Dynamics

When one or more team members are unmotivated, it can disrupt team cohesion and effectiveness. It might lead to conflicts or a situation where other team members have to compensate for the lack of contribution from the unmotivated individuals.

7. Personal Stress and Health Issues

On a personal level, chronic low motivation can lead to stress and related health issues. This is especially true when the lack of motivation is due to factors such as overwork, lack of recognition, or misalignment with personal values and goals.

8. Stagnation in Personal and Professional Growth

Low motivation can hinder an individual’s willingness to take on new challenges or engage in learning and development activities, leading to stagnation in both personal and professional growth.

9. Reduced Creativity and Innovation

Motivation is often a key driver of creativity and innovation. When it’s lacking, individuals are less likely to come up with new ideas or approaches, which can be detrimental in roles that require problem-solving and innovation.

10. Impact on Mental and Emotional Well-being

Prolonged periods of low motivation can affect an individual’s mental and emotional health, leading to feelings of worthlessness, depression, or anxiety.

Addressing the underlying causes of low motivation is crucial to mitigate these negative outcomes and foster a positive, productive, and satisfying work environment.

Read: 10 Causes of Low Motivation (and Ways to Fix Them)

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15 Tips for Improving Your Motivation

Keeping your motivational engine running can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. But fear not! Like any skill, motivation can be honed and enhanced with the right techniques.

Here are 15 practical tips to help you boost your motivation. Remember, it’s not about trying all of them at once. Pick a few that resonate with you, experiment, and see what ignites that spark.

1. Set clear, achievable goals.

Setting goals is about creating a roadmap to success. Start by defining what success looks like for you in clear, specific terms. Then, break down your larger goals into smaller, achievable tasks.

This approach makes your goals less overwhelming and more manageable. Each small task completed is a step forward, a mini-victory that keeps your motivation high.

Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and each step counts.

2. Find your ‘Why’.

Find the fuel for your motivational engine. Ask yourself: Why are you working in this job? Is it for personal growth, financial stability, or perhaps a passion for the industry?

Your ‘why’ is your anchor; it keeps you grounded and focused, especially when the going gets tough. When your tasks align with your personal or professional values, they become more meaningful and motivating.

3. Celebrate small wins.

It is easy to overlook the small achievements. Yet, these small wins are the building blocks of larger successes. Celebrating them can boost your mood and motivation. It could be as simple as acknowledging a well-handled meeting or a project phase completed.

These celebrations reinforce your sense of achievement and propel you forward.

Remember, success isn’t just about the big moments; it’s also about appreciating the small steps along the way.

4. Create a positive work environment.

Your work environment impacts your motivation. A positive, inspiring workspace can lift your spirits and enhance productivity. Personalize your space with items that bring you joy or calm, like family photos, plants, or art.

Surround yourself with positivity. Also, cultivate a supportive network of colleagues who encourage and inspire you.

5. Seek feedback.

Feedback is a powerful tool for growth and motivation. Constructive criticism helps you understand your strengths and areas for improvement. Seek feedback regularly from supervisors, peers, or mentors. Use this feedback as a guide to refine your skills and approach.

Remember, every piece of feedback is an opportunity to learn and grow, keeping your motivation fueled.

6. Stay curious.

Curiosity keeps your mind active and engaged. Staying curious means constantly seeking new knowledge and skills. Attend workshops, read industry publications, or engage in discussions with colleagues.

An inquisitive mind finds new and exciting aspects in even routine tasks, keeping the flame of motivation burning.

7. Visualize success.

Visualization is a powerful technique. Picture yourself achieving your goals. Imagine the sense of accomplishment and the rewards that come with it. This mental imagery acts as a motivator, pushing you to strive towards making that image a reality.

Visualization not only motivates but also prepares your mind to tackle the challenges along the way.

8. Manage your time wisely.

Effective time management is crucial for maintaining high motivation levels. Prioritize your tasks based on urgency and importance. Use tools like calendars, to-do lists, or digital organizers to keep track of deadlines and commitments.

When you manage your time effectively, you reduce stress and create space for tasks that are more fulfilling and motivating.

9. Take regular breaks.

Non-stop work leads to burnout, which is a major motivation killer. Regular breaks, even short ones, can refresh your mind and improve focus. Step away from your desk, take a walk, or just do something different for a few minutes.

These breaks are like hitting the reset button on your brain, helping maintain a steady level of motivation throughout the day.

10. Stay physically active.

Physical activity isn’t just good for your body; it’s also great for your mind. Exercise releases endorphins, known as ‘happy hormones’, which can elevate your mood and energy levels.

Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine, whether it’s a morning workout, a lunchtime walk, or even stretching exercises at your desk.

A healthy body fosters a motivated mind.

11. Practice gratitude.

Practicing gratitude can shift your perspective and boost your motivation. Take time each day to reflect on the aspects of your job and life you’re thankful for. This practice fosters a positive mindset, making you more resilient and motivated to face challenges.

Gratitude isn’t about ignoring problems; it’s about appreciating the good alongside them.

12. Connect with your colleagues.

Strong relationships at work creates a support system that can boost your motivation. Engage with your colleagues, participate in team activities, and offer help when needed.

These connections provide emotional support, making the workplace more enjoyable and motivating.

13. Find a mentor.

A mentor can be a great source of inspiration and motivation. They can provide guidance, share experiences, and offer a different perspective on your career. A good mentor-mentee relationship can help you navigate challenges through various stages of your professional journey.

14. Embrace challenges.

Challenges are opportunities for growth. Instead of avoiding them, embrace them with a positive attitude. Each challenge you overcome not only boosts your skills but also your confidence and motivation.

Remember, overcoming obstacles is a key part of professional development and personal growth.

15. Reflect and adjust.

Regular reflection helps you stay in tune with your motivational levels. Take time to assess what’s working and what’s not. Be open to adjusting your strategies and trying new approaches.

Flexibility in your motivational tactics is crucial as your personal and professional circumstances evolve.

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