Definition Of Motivation

No one single definition of motivation exists, so when you’re doing your research, you’ll need to take the bits that most fit your needs. Motivation is such an incredibly important part of your journey towards self actualization as it will be the power that helps you to achieve your goals.

Knowing about different definitions will help you identify your motivators as well as giving you ideas about how to use motivation to reach your goals.

Basic Assumptions


Every definition of motivation is underpinned by a set of basic assumptions about life. If you fulfill these assumptions, as nearly all people do, then you be able to find a definition of motivation that fits your needs. These basic assumptions of the best motivation theories include:

  • Socialization – your relationships play such a large part in so many different aspects of your life. They impact on your family life, your work as well as providing you with a support network when times get tough. It’s understandable therefore that most theories of motivation look at your relationships as a way to increase your self esteem and reach self fulfillment.

Reading List

  • Economic safety – in today’s capitalist society, many people match their success to their financial earnings which is why it’s such a big motivation in the workplace. While it might not seem like a big assumption for your day to day life, your goals will be intrinsically linked to the level of comfort that your earnings can bring you.
  • Complexity – the assumption about the complexity of existence means that you desire for a complex and rich lifestyle. A life devoid of challenge, risk and adventure will not be fulfilling and people will instinctively be motivated to make their life more complex.

These assumptions underpin most theories of motivation because they lay the groundwork for our most basic goals as well as identifying why we are motivated to make changes in our lives.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

In nearly every definition of motivation, there will be mention of the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. To paraphrase Abraham Maslow, the father of the self actualization movement, motivation should be something that we do ourselves, rather than having someone do it for us. This basic concept has been expanded into the ideas of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation is where everyone starts as children. It simply refers to things that other people offer us to help motivate us. This may be a sticker chart at school, money for doing chores around the house or the reward of a trip somewhere on the condition of good behaviour. By the time they reach high school, most people move beyond this need to be motivated by others, but you’ll still set it in place in bonus salary schemes, supermarket reward schemes and holiday giveaways.

Intrinsic motivation is much more complex and much harder to achieve than extrinsic motivation. You are intrinsically motivated if you do things because they make you feel good, make someone else feel good or because it’s the right thing to do. Think of it as having a set of inner needs that you meet through your actions. Having intrinsic motivation is a key characteristic of self actualization as you are entirely self-sufficient in setting and achieving your own goals.

Using intrinsic motivation as the cornerstone of your own personal definition of motivation will help you immensely. It takes a lot of self discipline to motivate yourself and you’ll need plenty of motivation tips to help get you started. The easiest of these is to have some self motivation quotes scattered around your home, as well as a daily motivation target for a certain area of your life.

More about Motivation

Return from Definition Of Motivation to Home

Visit BrainyQuote for more Quotes