March 4

Motivation – The Energy To Achieve


In the realm of achieving goals and maintaining productivity, the role of motivation cannot be overstated. Understanding the sources of motivation, particularly distinguishing between external and internal motivation, is crucial. Recent research in emotional intelligence highlights this differentiation and its impact on our energy levels.

External vs Internal Motivation

External motivators include recognition, monetary rewards, and social media validation. These can indeed provide a temporary boost in motivation, but their effect is often fleeting. A pay raise or social media likes may energize us briefly, but this motivation diminishes quickly.

In contrast, internal motivation is derived from within and is linked to our core beliefs and values. This form of motivation is more sustainable and has a profound impact on our daily energy levels and overall life satisfaction. Emotional intelligence research emphasizes the importance of internal motivation in fostering positive emotions and energy required for long-term success.

The Pathway of Internal Motivation

  1. Beliefs and Worldview: Our internal motivation starts with our beliefs about ourselves and our place in the world.
  2. Rules and Standards: From these beliefs, we establish personal rules and standards to live by.
  3. Self-Talk: Our self-talk, heavily influenced by these beliefs and rules, plays a critical role in shaping our motivation.

Self-Talk and Motivation

 The nature of our self-talk can either drain or enhance our motivation. Negative self-talk ("I can't do this", "Another failure") depletes our internal well of motivation. Conversely, positive self-talk ("I can learn from this", "I'll try even if it's challenging") can replenish it, boosting our energy and drive.


Let me share something with you. You may have had a similar experience in your life. There have been times when I just felt like giving up. Most of those were preceded by some major negative or traumatic event. I remember a time when I lost a job due to a company being bought out. I had just been awarded Sales Manager of the year, taking my division from last place to first place in a short 12 months. As I sat across the table from the VP of Sales, and he gave me the news, I literally could not hear anything else he said for a few minutes. Going from a major win to a huge loss just did not seem possible.

In that moment, it felt like all of my energy drained away. I literally felt sick. It was impossible to think clearly. I honestly do not remember if I said anything or not. How was I going to tell my wife what had just happened? How would I support my family? These are the types of thoughts that go through your head at a time like this. Then the emotions started to kick in. Fear, anxiety, stress were some of the first.

Thankfully these emotions do diminish in intensity given some time. I wish I knew then what I know now about emotional intelligence skills like navigating emotions, intrinsic motivation, and exercising optimism. I really struggled with emotions that kept me stuck for longer than I would have liked. Resentment and anger at what had been done to me were the primary emotions that set in. The problem with reliving the "event" is that you rekindle the emotions every time you do. This creates a pattern that becomes more difficult to break out of the longer it is sustained.

I was finally able to break out of this pattern when I reconnected with my deepest held beliefs, values, and goals. These reminded me that a job does not define me. That the praise and appreciation of people in a given organization is short lived. This actually enhanced my self-awareness. I realized that while I cannot control the circumstances, or even the emotions I have about those circumstances, I can control how I respond...and THAT was motivating!!

I was able to restore my energy and focus on more productive efforts. More importantly, I was able to let go of the hurt and resentment I had toward people who were probably just trying to do the best they could under difficult circumstances.

The lesson I learned from this experience is that I control what I do with what comes my way. Life has speed bumps. Looking back, I can see that these speed bumps were actually an opportunity to slow down enough to go in a new direction. I have been blessed that these new directions have led to more enjoyable and rewarding directions in my life.

Building and Sustaining Internal Motivation

So how do we build the skills we need to face the speed bumps of life? Internal motivation is a great place to start.

  1. Assess Your Beliefs and Rules: Examine the beliefs and rules that may be draining your motivation.
  2. Transform Your Self-Talk: Shift your self-talk towards a more positive and motivating narrative.
  3. Regular Evaluation: Continuously evaluate and adjust your beliefs, rules, and self-talk to maintain high levels of internal motivation.

The Role of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence plays a vital role in recognizing and altering our self-talk and beliefs. Developing this competency enhances our ability to sustain internal motivation, which is pivotal for long-term success and fulfillment.

There are specific EI (emotional intelligence) competencies and skills that are primary drivers of internal motivation.

Intrinsic Motivation

Definition: Gaining energy from personal values and commitments vs. being driven by external forces.

Importance: People who require external reinforcement to be motivated are always at the mercy of others’ approval or reward system. This ultimately reduces self-efficacy.

 Engaging Intrinsic Motivation helps you develop and use lasting inner drivers. This allows you to stand up, challenge the status quo, take risks, and persevere when the going is tough – and it helps you inspire that in others.

Exercise Optimism

Definition: Taking a proactive perspective of hope and possibility.

Importance: This learned way of thinking + feeling gives you ownership of your decisions and outcomes. Everyone uses both optimistic and pessimistic styles of feeling + thinking, some tend to use one more often.

 An optimistic outlook increases the pool of choices and the opportunity for success. This provides a solution-oriented approach, helps you innovate, and allows you to engage others’ positive energy. Optimism helps you see beyond the present and take ownership of the future.

While external motivators have their place, the key to sustained motivation and energy lies within us. Cultivating internal motivation through emotional intelligence and mindful self-talk can lead to more consistent and fulfilling achievements.

 Do you want to be able to navigate life's speed bumps better? I know I do. Start by building your internal motivation, the fuel that keeps you going no matter what the road ahead looks like!


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