How to Increase your Motivation


Do you know what motivates you? Would you like to increase your motivation? Beverley from Meaningful Minds Psychologists looks at what motivation is and how we can increase it.

What Motivates You?

If you are like me, I am sure you have wondered why some people are more motivated than others. Additionally, where do they get their energy and internal drive to persist and keep on trying? Studies in motivation have become more attractive because everyone wants to know the secrets to being successful; we all want to be noticed as someone with motivation and drive to achieve our goals.

I suppose before we get into the nitty gritty of what motivates us, we need to define what motivation is. It can be described as a force that stimulates and guides our desire and energy to maintain goal-orientated activities. In other words, it is what pushes us to do something, whether it is to start up a new company, complete a degree or maybe it is just to do the dishes.

These motivational forces can be viewed according to biological, social, emotional or cognitive elements. Let’s take a closer look at some theories or explanations which may help us understand motivation a little better:

Instinct Theory

Instinct theories place emphasis on evolutionary processes and innate knowledge on how to survive in the world. For example, animals do not need to be told how and when to hibernate, build a nest or migrate. This knowledge has been preprogramed from birth and can be considered to be part of their DNA. Likewise, people can be motivated to engage in play, love and certain actions which promote survival. These behaviours can be described as instinctual as no one has to be taught how to do these.

Incentive Theory

According to the incentive theory, our actions are motivated by external rewards. For example, the motivation to get to work every day is the reward of getting a salary at the end of the month. Here, the salary acts as a positive reinforcement of behaviour thus we continue to do the action. However, should we feel punished in any way, such as being under paid, the motivation we once felt will start to decrease and it will become progressively more difficult to perform optimally or gain any satisfaction from our work.

This theory suggests that our actions are intentional and we engage in certain behaviours in order to gain rewards. The greater the reward, whether real or perceived, the stronger the motivation to pursue the goal will be.

Drive Theory

The drive theory proposes that people are motivated to perform certain behaviours based on their need to reduce internal tensions as a result of unmet needs. A simple example would be the motivation to drink a glass of water in order to reduce your thirst thus meeting your internal need and returning to an internal sense of stability.

This theory has been critiqued as not all behaviours are motivated by physiological needs, such as over eating or eating when you are not hungry.

Arousal Theory of Motivation

The theory of arousal suggests that people perform various behaviours in an effort to maintain a comfortable level of arousal. Therefore, when your arousal level gets too high, you are more likely to engage in an activity to decrease it, such as doing yoga or reading a book. When your arousal level gets too low, you will probably engage in an activity to increase the levels, such as doing something physical or watching a scary movie.

A matter to consider is that we are all different in terms of what constitutes a comfortable level of arousal, which is also likely to depend on the situation presented with.