Learn about motivation and how to feel more authentically motivated.
Motivation is an energizing force that drives you to act. When you’re motivated, you feel excited and driven to start working towards a goal and to keep working towards that goal, even in the face of obstacles (Parks & Guay, 2009). It can even feel exhilarating to be genuinely motivated to work on a goal that you care about (Cook & Artino, 2016).
How Basic Psychological Needs Contribute to Motivation
We are more likely to be intrinsically motivated to achieve goals that fulfill three basic psychological needs (Cook & Artino, 2016). These needs are:
In addition, you’ll feel more satisfied and more motivated if you can pursue goals that are consistent with your values and interests (Parks & Guay, 2009). If you can structure your professional, educational, health, domestic, and personal life around your values and interests, you’ll feel a greater sense of intrinsic and integrated motivation. This will make building habits and completing goals easier. When you’re acting in ways that support your values, you’ll likely feel happier and more motivated.
How to Get Motivated to Work
Generally, you'll feel motivated to work when you find your work interesting, when your work has clear and well-defined goals, and when you can link your work to a wider project. You can increase your motivation to work by addressing your basic psychological needs (Sharp et al., 2009).
You’re more likely to feel motivated if you feel a sense of ownership or choice over your work. When faced with a boring or unpleasant work task, you can increase your sense of autonomy and motivation if you can connect the task to a career path that you have chosen. Having some variety in your work can also increase your sense of autonomy and your feelings of motivation.
Work that is technically challenging will be more motivating than work that is too easy. You’re unlikely to be motivated by boring tasks that don’t fulfill your need to feel competent.
You’ll probably be more motivated to work if you have a sense of belonging within supportive workplace networks. Team-building exercises and happy hours with your colleagues may help you feel more connected and more motivated in your work. You’ll also feel a greater sense of motivation if you can connect your contribution to a larger project that is impactful and important.
Not all motivation is created equal. Intrinsic motivation, where joy is inherent in the performance of the act, and integrated motivation, where the act has become part of your self-identity, are the highest forms of motivation. So you probably feel happy and fulfilled when you work on something you love or when you work on something important to you.
Pamela (Pami) Parker currently serves as a holistic practitioner, coach and teacher. Her intention is to be a compassionate guide to those who choose to experience a healthier, happier and more peaceful way of life.