improve motivation – illustration of a woman sitting in a chair with her laptop on her lap, and in the background, a rainbow with lightbulb and heart icons around it.


What is motivation and how to improve it: simple tips

Learn everything there is to know about motivation and check out some books, apps and videos that can help you a great deal.


06/19/2019 | By Hotmart

The word motivation is widely used in our daily life and carries a huge responsibility. It represents a decisive feeling for our personal fulfillment, our professional success and — why not? —, for our happiness.

But where does it come from? Why does lack of motivation have so many consequences? It there any technique to develop it? And how do we sustain this state of mind? And finally, how to increase drive and motivation?

In this text, we’ll explain a little about this dense and complex, yet essential subject.

Shall we? Check it out!

After all, what is motivation?

According to the word’s epistemology, motivation comes from the Latin word “moverè“, representing a driving force that drives behavior. In other words, in basic terms, we can say that it means movement for action.

This concept isn’t hard to understand based on our common sense. Motivation is what drives us to act.

But not acting mechanically, without awareness. When we are motivated, there’s something inside us that instigates us to it. There’s an internal force that drives us to accomplish things.

So, when we say that we’re unmotivated, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t do something, but that this action will be performed superficially.

It’s what happens when we work without motivation, for example.

You wake up, have breakfast and start your professional activity “just because” your bills still have to be paid, without a job there’s no buying power, and so on.

But motivation doesn’t refer only to your professional life; although, as we’ll see later, this is a topic of great importance. More than this, the state of demotivation can reach other parts of one’s life.

A romantic relationship that is only held together by self-indulgence. A college major that is decided on the basis of social pressure. A project that isn’t dropped because, at this point, going back isn’t worth it.

Terrible sensations, huh?

Yes, but very common. It so happens that, however essential motivation is for personal and professional achievements, it’s constantly changing. Both external, as well as internal, factors can affect it. Improve motivation, is therefore, key to improving one’s quality of life.

Let’s learn more about this.

Extrinsic motivation

Everything extrinsic comes from outside. In this case, we’re talking about motivation that is external to the individual, i.e., environmental: it comes either from the place in which we’re inserted or from those people present.

This sense of motivation is very important in the corporate world. The reason is simple: a business needs to extract the most out of its team.

But, since results depend on this exchange, managers can’t expect all employees to be self-motivated.

So, they invest in external elements that can contribute to this feeling:

These initiatives are quite valid! This is because they really influence the team’s state of mind and are key for a business’ health.

However, the effects of extrinsic motivation are more short-lived than those of intrinsic motivation, which is the type of motivation that comes from the individual.

Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation comes from within. This is the most important type of motivation for our personal fulfillment, because it’s closely related to success in the pursuit of dreams.

It is linked to individual purposes and identity. We can also say that intrinsic motivation is capable of either cancelling or boosting extrinsic motivation.

An individual can have the best job in the world, with several external elements that would normally be uplifting.

But, if these individuals cannot stay self-motivated, outside initiatives cannot bring out their best performance.

The opposite also happens: when intrinsic motivation is strong, even the greatest external adversities cannot corrupt this movement into action.

How to improve motivation at work and in personal life?

Have you ever noticed how one’s personal life interferes with professional motivation?

Yes, this is real. Whenever the internal aspects of our life aren’t going well, lack of morale at work is expected. This happens because everything is connected.

All areas of our lives communicate and have a factor in common: they revolve around the individual.

For this reason, even if a business is great at motivating teams, employees that haven’t found their true personal purposes might not perform well.

For example, receiving negative feedback at any point is absolutely normal. If you know that your work is important for any personal fulfillment, constructive criticism won’t take away your desire to act.

Just the opposite is true, you will use this to learn and improve as a person. However, for someone with a fragile intrinsic motivation, a misinterpreted comment is enough to make their work become synonymous with frustration.

What we learn from this is that motivation is essential for personal and professional success. And we aren’t even talking about accumulating fortunes or being the happiest person in the world. The small daily successes are influenced by the state of morale and genuine engagement for any action.

When you feel motivated, even the simple act of choosing your outfit in the morning has greater importance. You are thinking about your personal marketing, which leads to establishing contacts, which will contribute to your professional goal, which will advance towards your big career goal.

How to increase your motivation

Do you recognize your own everyday life in these descriptions about the impacts of lack of motivation?

Well, this is a warning sign for you to improve this aspect of your life. How about working to improve motivation?

But, where do you start?

Below, we’ve listed a few habits that should help you! However, focus on this word: habits.

What do we mean?

Well, motivation is very volatile. Some people tend to be more self-motivated, but still, it’s a constant exercise.

Therefore, transform the tips below into a new way of living your everyday life, with the concern about each of these aspects daily. Shall we?

Do a self-assessment: Who are you and who do you want to be?

The first step to improve motivation is— can you guess? —, finding what motivates you. Kind of obvious, right? Not so much.

Have you noticed how hard it is to understand who we are, and especially, who we want to be?

From childhood and teen years, our instinct is to seek adaptation, and not self-assessment.

For example, the so-called “cliques” are quite common at school, aren’t they? The queen bees, the jocks, the nerds. But we can agree that human beings are much more complex than these stereotypes indicate.

What happens is that we give up on part of our personality, of our tastes and even of our values in order to fit into somewhere.

And what you need to discover — or rediscover —, in order to be more motivated, are precisely these traits that we often leave behind, over a lifetime of adaptations.

Try going back to your childhood impressions: Who did you want to be when you grew up? What were the most important things in the world in your uncorrupted view as a child?

Are these tough questions?

Yes, very tough! But understanding your true purpose is the first key step to becoming a self-motivated person.

After all, when we have a greater understanding about what impels us, increasingly less external influences —such as a bad day at work, a personal disappointment or a door that closes for you —will be capable of shaking your movement for action.

Set objectives and goals: Where do you want to go?

After this veritable leap into yourself, let’s do a more practical exercise to improve motivation.

Considering your reflections on who you want to be, how about seeing these aspirations as something possible?

Yes, you already know: it’s time to set goals!

It is through them that you’ll be able to gradually shape your routine so that it becomes more aligned with your positive ambitions.

The result is that the actions of your everyday life will be easily self-motivated. After all, you know exactly where you want to go with them and what they add to your life.

For this purpose, you can build a mural of dreams! And we have a tip: In order for your goals to be more effective, it’s worth using the SMART goal method. They are as follows:

  • S — Specific: Say yes to clarity and not to generality;
  • M — Measurable: Must be possible to be objectively evaluated;
  • A — Attainable: Dream big? Yes! But no utopias, okay?
  • R — Relevant: Remember what you learned about yourself in the previous step and set goals that will make a difference in your life;
  • T — Time-based: Set a deadline to achieve each goal.

Have self-discipline: Is the motivation truly spontaneous?

With your main life goals clearer, motivation will come naturally. But be careful! It isn’t as spontaneous and requires a lot of dedication. If you deviate from the goals defined earlier, the effect will be the opposite of what you want: demotivation for sure!

There’s nothing that knocks your motivation down more than feeling that we have sabotaged our dreams ourselves, right?

Therefore, make it happen! Focus on your goals is essential to keep your motivation high. To do so, perfecting your time management is essential.

We are often unmotivated regarding a certain aspect of our life — be it work, school, love life, etc. —, not because it is, in fact, bad.

What happens is that an uncontrolled routine can trigger generalized stress. The tendency is to always blame external factors for our internal lack of order.

Invest in self-development: How about valuing yourself more?

Another key step to being motivated is taking care of yourself. So, remember this: self-development! Don’t forget about you: learning new things always adds extra spice to our motivation for life.

Remember that you need to become an incredible person, the one we discovered in the first step. So, how about taking a course, learning a new language or maybe starting your own business?

You don’t know what you’d like to do for your self-development? There’s a very useful tool to help you with this called personal canvas.

It works as an evaluation of your life project. By building one, you’ll discover your strengths and weaknesses for example, with whom you can relate in order to turn your goals into reality, among other things.

Stay away from what limits you: What demotivates you?

Okay! You know who you are, what drives you, what you need to achieve personal and professional fulfillment and how to stimulate your self-development. It’s all there; motivation will always be present, right?

Well, not exactly. Because of a major problem: the limiting beliefs. Human beings are filled with thoughts that prevent their actions, which consequently, leads to demotivation.

These beliefs can make you throw away your mural of dreams; therefore, it’s worth paying attention to them.

It’s important for human beings to take risks, even when you fill your head with insecurities that direct you to the opposite side: conformity.

For example, does your work demotivate you? Doesn’t it add anything to your life goals? Well, a career change might be a good idea. How about creating a digital product and start teaching classes?

But what if you’re not good enough to teach? Your public speaking skills aren’t up to par, right? The verdict: the security of this demotivating job is better than an internet pipe dream!

These are limiting beliefs that you need to eliminate from your life! In their place, make the effort of maintaining positive thinking.

Make a change of perspective and open up to liberating beliefs. You can do it! You are capable! You deserve it!

Do you want a bonus? Check out 9 tips that can help improve motivation

So, do you feel the motivation growing inside of you? We’ll help you a bit more.

Below are 9 tips of applications, books, and videos to help you become even more motivated!

1. App: Thirty – Get Inspired

improve motivation - Thirty app logo

If you’re one of those people that loses motivation when you don’t obtain fast results, this app is perfect for you!

Thirty lets you manage life challenges, which must be concluded in 30 days.

It can be anything: reading a book, concluding a vocational course, learning something new, and so forth.

The idea being the app is interesting because, since the deadline for the conclusion of the goal is short, it becomes more “palpable” and encourages changes in habits.

2. App: Get Sh*t Done

improve motivation - Get Sh*t Done app logo

This app has the same purpose as the previous one: get you to complete goals and finish what you start.

However, its major difference is in the style of language and the jokes in its content – starting with its name.

Get Sh*t Done works like a very funny, but mean, “virtual torturer”. It’s an efficient way of avoiding procrastination and improve motivation with humor and a few punishments from the app.

3. App: Shuffle My Life

improve motivation - Shuffle app logo

Now, if your lack of motivation comes from a mechanical routine in which you gradually forget your true purposes, how about trying the Shuffle My Life app? The name is self-explanatory and it can definitely help you improve motivation.

Yes, this app’s purpose is completely different from the previous ones. The idea is that you do something different every day.

This way, your routine gets broken with random activities, such as:

  • Learn a survival technique in case you get lots in a forest;
  • Buy a new decoration item;
  • Prepare a recipe with at least 7 ingredients that you’ve never used in your life;
  • Write a bucket list with at least 20 items;
  • Draw the floorplan of the house of your dreams, etc.

Perhaps you need a little unexpected fun in your life in order to have more daily motivation, don’t you think so?

4. Book: Drive

improve motivation - cover of the book Drive

Directed towards professional motivation, this book by Daniel Pink, a leading expert in management and leadership, criticizes the most popular corporate motivational model — financial rewards and promotions, in addition to punishments as productivity incentives.

According to the author, the motivation that contributes the most with someone’s professional and personal performance is the one that comes from the deepest sense. Finding one’s purposes, values and identity makes one feel more energized to meet challenges.

5. Book: Girl Boss

improve motivation - cover of the book Girl Boss

If you love stories about people who overcame difficulties — a must for motivation, isn’t it? — You’ll love this book: Girl Boss, which tells the story of Sophia Amoruso.

The young woman’s trajectory shows that you can overcome difficulties, even when lack of motivation does not depend on environmental difficulties, but of your own choices. In her case, concerns with the future were minimal: she dropped out of school, practiced thefts and couldn’t hold a job. Hence, the book offers a different perspective on how to improve motivation.

She is currently the owner of a very successful women’s fashion chain and is considered one of the highest-paid women in the world.

In addition, Amoruso’s organization, Nasty Gal, is a great example of a brand aligned with a sense of purpose.

6. Book: Handbook for Young Dreamers

improve motivation - cover of the book Handbook for Young Dreamers

Another example of good bedside reading is the Handbook for Young Dreamers. The author, Nathalie Trutmann, is an entrepreneur specialized in personal leadership.

The young Singularity University ambassador wrote this book to guide readers in achieving their goals. For Trutmann, the best investments in professional or personal success are those that are aligned with our true dreams.

7. Video: “How to make work-life balance work”

Do you know when work becomes a stressful and demotivating activity when there seems to be no time left for anything else? According to Nigel Marsh, changing this reality only depends on us!

After all, “the balance between life and work is too important to be left in the hands of employers “, according to the lecturer.

In his TED, called “How to make work-life balance work“, he provides a few tips for this balance to work, so that the daily strain does not interfere in our motivation.

8. Video: “The puzzle of motivation”

Remember Daniel Pink from our 4th tip? He also gave a talk that has become one of the best-known TED Talks to inspire. The subject is the same: How to achieve true motivation?

There are several lessons taught by him in his “The Puzzle of Motivation“. Among them, the speaker affirms that true engagement to achieve goals comes from three ingredients: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

9. Video: Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech at Stanford

Finally, you’ve probably heard of Apple founder, Steve Jobs, haven’t you?

Well, in 2005, the entrepreneur was invited by Stanford University to give the commencement speech.

For about 14 minutes, Jobs talked about a series of things that he had learned during his successful trajectory.

It so happens that the speech contained such valuable lessons that it went viral on the web as a great motivational video.

He talks, for example, about the need of taking risks and following your intuition, in addition to believing in something — in destiny, in God, in yourself, whatever it is —, in order to find the courage to follow your heart, even if it leads you through unexpected paths.

Jobs also emphasized how important it is to do what you really enjoy in life: “I am convinced that the only thing that allowed me to move forward was my love for what I did. You have to find what you love.” Therefore, if you want to improve motivation, this a video you need to watch.

So, how hard is it to improve motivation?

After reading this text, we’ve learned that motivation corresponds to an internal force that drives us towards an attitude.

Therefore, although there are means of encouraging it externally, the key issue is how to develop it from within.

This is good news: there are certain behaviors that contribute to a state of motivation. Better yet if they become habits.

Now you know, for example, that establishing goals and getting rid of limiting beliefs is a good thing.

But there’s no use in being motivated if you don’t act, right?

Therefore, also read our text about how to avoid procrastination!