Self Motivation: How to Motivate Yourself

Posted by Donald Latumahina

People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.
Andrew Carnegie

If you want to excel in life, self motivation is essential. You must know how to motivate yourself. You must be able to keep your spirit high no matter how discouraging a situation is. That’s the only way to get the power you need to overcome difficulties. Those who are discouraged in difficult times are certain to lose even before the battle is over.

Self Motivation: How to Motivate YourselfThe question is: how do you motivate yourself? Here are several tips I’ve found to be effective to build self motivation:

1. Have a cause

I can’t think of a more powerful source of motivation than a cause you care about. Such cause can inspire you to give your best even in the face of difficulties. It can make you do the seemingly impossible things.

While other causes could inspire you temporarily, a cause that matters to you can inspire you indefinitely. It’s a spring of motivation that will never dry. Whenever you think that you run out of motivation,  you can always come to your cause to get a fresh dose of motivation.

2. Have a dream. A big dream.

Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.
Karen Ravn

Your cause is a powerful source of motivation but it’s still abstract in nature. You need to make it concrete in the form of a dream. Imagine how the world will be in the future. Imagine how people will live and work.

Having a dream is important because it’s difficult to be motivated if you don’t have anything to shoot for. Just think about people who play basketball. Will they be motivated to play if there is no basket to aim at? I don’t think so. They need a goal. You need a goal. That’s what your dream is for.

But just having a dream is insufficient. Your dream must be big enough to inspire you. It must be realistic but challenging. It must stretch your ability beyond your comfort zone.

3. Be hungry

Wanting something is not enough. You must hunger for it. Your motivation must be absolutely compelling in order to overcome the obstacles that will invariably come your way.
Les Brown

To be truly motivated, you need to have hunger and not just desire. Having mere desire won’t take you through difficult times since you don’t want things badly enough. In many cases, hunger makes the difference between the best performers and the mediocre ones.

How can you have hunger? Your cause and your dream play a big role here. If you have a cause you care about and a big dream related to it, you should have the hunger inside of you. If you think that you are losing hunger, all you need to do is to connect again to your cause and dream. Let them inspire you and bring the hunger back.

4. Run your own race

I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.
Mikhail Baryshnikov

Comparing yourself with others is an effective way to demotivate yourself. Even if you start with enthusiasm, you will soon lose your energy when you compare yourself with others.

Don’t let that happen to you. You have your own race so how other people perform is irrelevant. Comparing yourself with others is like comparing the performance of a swimmer with a runner using the same time standard. They are different so how can you compare one with the other?

The only competitor you have is yourself. The only one you need to beat is you. Have you become the best you can be?

5. Take one more step

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Winston Churchill

When you meet obstacles along the way, there could be the tendency to quit. You may think that it’s too difficult to move on. You may think that your dream is impossible to achieve. But this is where you can see the difference between winners and losers. Though both of them face the same difficulties, there is one thing that makes the winners different: the courage to continue.

In difficult situations, just focus on taking one more step forward. Don’t think about how to complete the race. Don’t think about how many more obstacles are waiting for you. Just focus on taking the next step.

6. Let go of the past

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Believe it or not, one of the best demotivators is your past. Your past can drag you down before you realize it. Your past can give you a heavy burden on your shoulders.

The good news is it’s a burden you don’t have to carry. Take it off your shoulder and leave it. You might make mistakes in the past. You might disappoint others with what you did. But it’s over. It’s already in the past and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Today is a new day and you have the chance to start again. No matter how bad your past might be, you still have a bright future ahead waiting for you. Just don’t let the burden of the past stop you.


Apply these tips and motivate yourself. Don’t settle for mediocrity. Let your self motivation take you to excellence.

This article is part of October 2008 theme: Winning Attitude

Photo by bingbing

Categories: Attitude, Purpose

Please use your real name and note that I reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

165 Responses so far.

  1. bhavna says:

    hi!am Bhavna,am in hsc(higher school certificate),i have worked quite well in my last exams,but now it is eve of exams i dont find any motivation to study!!help me out i have tried all types of motivation;;screensaver,motivational songs,counselling but none of them worked out!

    • barkha says:

      hi bhavna ..see wat u need to do is make out first wats ur goal iss nd how much hard work u need for that …and thn think that u r on the position if u wanna be a doctor thn start assuming ur slf as a doctor ..thn u’ll really reliase ur goal ..nd i m sure it will work ..
      gud luck ….

    • jalarc says:

      I think you need to know what you want, and the next thing is to seriously find out, what it will take to reach there. If you think you have motivation, the best way to check how good the level of motivation is, when you find out how easily you are ready to leave your study for TV, Phone call or sleep.
      You must have that so called dream around your neck, not on your bed.

    • ravi says:

      ” fake it untill you make it”, Bhavna. See yourself as the person you wanted to be ( your ambition ).

      Eg: Doctor… see yourself as a successfull doctor, helping thousands of people, curing their diseases, easing their pain. See yourself being rewarded with many awards, see yourself being praised in the media, see yourself being called for talks/motivating other students/doctors.

      Be a Succesfull doctor NOW! It will take you there, my dear.

      All the best to you….

      • Tukaram says:

        Yes I like, and ultimately I am the driver for my life journey.
        (But we can,t refuse the motivation.) We need at least some time, some shadows, in our journey.

  2. I made my blog about motivation. I really like it so much in creating blog. I try hard but I don’t get any idea how to make it interesting. Everyday checking on my blog not even a small tiny progress. Now I try so hard to gain my motivation back, but it seems so hard. Please help me guys!! Thanks

  3. priyam says:

    i really liked d above article written by hlpd me alot to motivate myslf.m thanful to hv dis article.

  4. donna dunn says:

    I want to feel me again. i feel i am here for more than i am doing. i want to make a difference in other peoples lifes and help others . i want to be at the weight i am suppose to and feel good about me so i wont concentrate so hard on me.I want to make a difference in others and never quit caring about other people

  5. evans says:

    I enjoyed the article Posted by Donald Latumahina. its quite motivational. thank you.

  6. yanjilade says:

    Confidence is important, but more important to maintain confidence!

  7. Lynde says:

    I like the ideas presented here for Motivation, especially the one about ‘letting go of the past’. Personally, this is the biggie of moving forward toward my big dream.

  8. Thanks so much. I think what did it for me was identifying the dream. All the other points are important as well. I just have to focus and narrow in.
    Thanks again.

  9. gowri says:

    Initially,i thought that i’m just an idiotic fool but gradually i realized that i have a dream which is quite enormous and i wanted to make it realistic.I really wanted to pass my examination in flying colours in spite that i’m sitting for SPM in 2012 and wanted to motivate myself.

  10. mohit says:

    this is an awesome article .. great motivator !!

  11. MC Rolex says:

    Hmmm… I was formerly having problem with convincing myself if actually am good or better than ” ?? next person and this is greatly making me feel they are better! But with this ‘Don’t learn ??? dance better than ” ?? next person but better than Urself’ makes me stronger and believe ??? take on ” ?? whole world in all I do now. .*”¢.¸( *”¢.¸?¸.”¢*´)¸.”¢*.
    «´¨`°”¢.? ” ?ª??’s ?.”¢°´¨`»
    ¸.”¢* (¸.”¢*´?`*”¢.,)`*”¢. So Much

  12. hema34 says:

    Thanks.It was a very helpful and encouraging article.

  13. Jay says:

    This article was a bunch of help thanks

  14. Wayne says:

    Very good points, but from my experience as a life coach, helping people realize their life dreams, one can not overlook the powerful impact of ones’ “FAITH” and the impact that faith can have in one’s life, and self motivation pursuits.

    If you look at the the really successful people in the world, apart from a strong driving will to succeed, people also have to have the faith that they will rise above and overcome. As a Christian believer in the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior and Lord of my life; Philippians 4:13 can do everything through him who gives me strength.

    Develop the faith that only God can provide in your self motivation pursuits of accomplishing your God given talents and abilities in life.

    Remember: Your Ability is only limited by your inability to take action…

  15. buddy scott says:

    motivation is key. at 76 years old i started writing a blog. at first it was hard to get started. now i’m blogging everyday. my motivation is that i don’t want to brain die. im afraid if i stop using it i’ll lose it. now i look forward to finding topics to write about. stop by my page and tell me what you think.

  16. sepide says:

    hi. im sepide . 30 years old. single. studying psychology at MA degree. i have passed a hard period of depression and now, after all those hard days, i have no hope to continue my studies, work, life, … . i wake up everyday and do the chores but i expect nothing special to happen, sure i mean sth positive. my counseler adviced me to read the articles about self motivation, so im here now.what u have said is nice but not practical for me. u know even if u tell me tomorrow im going to start my new life in heaven with whatever i wish, i have no feeling about it.nothing makes me happy. can u help me please?

    • Oblaloochin mahabid says:

      you rockk gurrrll !
      follow your dreams. I wanted to be tinker bell, now i am a flying fairy and i like to go to neverland with my husband peter pan. We love you. – The believers. I believe i can fly !!!!

    • ag says:

      Hi, most of us have gone through a hand to mouth and boring stage of life. The good thing is you are young and studying. Development is a long term effort that results in sustained results over the long term. during challenging times just keep one going one step at a time, challenging times dont last long, you are on the right track. Check out what’s affecting you and work on it systematically, and you will overcome the current hurdle.

  17. cilly says:

    let go of the past-

    i don’t why, but the concept had never crossed my mind. Thanks, i feel much better now ^^

  18. Peter says:

    Hi. I am ready for IELTS in progess, but I realize that I don’t do my best and alway to find some excuses to esacpe it. the above article really make me know what I want and what I should do. thanks a lot.

  19. Rangaswamy M says:

    What an article!awesome! am 23yr old very poor guy from bangalore, i stopped my education(+2) in 2007 due to powerty,now am doing BA(corres), in the mean time am working in cafe as a team member,now i am feeling like life is so bored i have a big dream(ias) i am trying to motivate my self but i could not, can any one suggest me?

  20. krishnna says:

    good content…. enjoyed reading through your site……..keep up the work…….

  21. sana says:

    please leave the past and live in today.don’t see your past look for future,believe me a good life is waiting for you.

  22. Richard says:

    Very good article, it can be such a challenge to illustrate that self motivation when you think about it is like a switch we all have internally, flip it one way and we feel like we can fly. Flip it the other and we can dive into a dangerous negative nose dive into the abyss. Excellent work


  23. raidu says:

    I feel awesome to read such a great essay on self motivation which motivated me a lot.

  24. Christy says:

    I’m in the military awaiting a medical discharge, and it’s starting to become difficult to motivate myself to work for an organization that doesn’t want me. I don’t have much to do at work, and making it to PT sessions have no longer become a priority, despite negative paperwork I have received. In reading this article, and writing down the 6 steps, I hope to regrasp my motivation and focus. It is not my intention to become one of those who “doesn’t give a shit” and become so unmotivated that I spend the last few months in trouble by my command. Any more advice?? I need help….

  25. Tony says:

    I want to be a confidence person, I want to be a talkative person, since i’m a silent man. I myself know that i’m the one who like hard working, but i’m not success with my current career yet. Please give me some tips to motivate myself which i can stand and do the presentation confidently to my customer side as well as other task.

    I have gone through your tips above but i just need some more idea for this.

    thank you in advance!

  26. Ziyezana Ntlanti says:

    I can’t let go of de past & its realy dragging mi dwn

  27. snehal says:

    please leave the past and live in today.don’t see your past look for future,believe me a good life is waiting for you.and sucess in ur hands.its very true…………………………

  28. Harish says:

    As I am thirty five years old. I used to do trading business, it was quite good……. after three years i Got married that time itself it was in loss. I took loans for covering it up but i could not… Fifteen lakhs rupees of loan as already arranged n paid the loan amount to the Bank. Now I am un employed person. still searching a job not getting ………. but i got even their also i worked for eighteen days then they told me to leave…….. Already six months over still i am in search of a job…… I need some motivational techniques to achieve something in my life…….. Please guide us…

  29. neo says:

    im a 23yr old lady with adaughter who is a year old.Im studing a diploma in technical financial accounting my problem is its simple for me to advise people how to handle life and give advise but i find it hard to practice what i say to them and put it in my strugling to push my self to the top and do well in all my task that i do on a daily base.if any person can help plz i will b waiting to hear from u.

  30. Johnson Donatus says:

    I have read so many article online but my problem is how to create a goal. I don’t have a goal all I do is to get my salary at the end of the month nothing to focus upon guys pls I desire tb great , Help me. Thanks to the Author.

  31. Derrick Clarke says:

    These words are so true, i would like to keep in touch with these word

  32. achu says:

    this is really a great reading for me because i understood that some of the reasons are correct.

  33. Bob says:

    Love the last point about letting go of your past… I’m 30, used to have a decent management job and had lots of friends from work, till I got greedy and misappropriated some funds from the company.. Long story short, I got fired and have been jobless for almost a year now.. The part which got me was the fact that not one of my friends from work contacted me since then.. There was a girl whom i’ve just started dating and would consider marrying – even she didnt call me, even though we were very close then.. During that period I thought of getting a job but with my qualification it is impossible to get a job 20% as decent as what I had.. I got over 10 years experience in d field I was in, that’s y i got my old jjob, but it’s a small field and people would know my past if I tried going in this line again… I didn’t want to start over because I felt shame, even the thought of working as a waiter for the time being to make ends meet and accidentally bumping into a former staff of mine terrifies me… Id rather go hungry than let that happen.. I’ve had enough of this… Life is too short to be worried all the time.. I’m just going to think of myself as an 18 year old fresh out of high school and start over.. Screw the past and focus on the present and future.. Tnx for d post..

  34. Sumardy Tjoa says:

    Thank you for the article above motivational ourself.

  35. zmh says:

    Well guy, i was con about more than 800k, loss 4 houses and 4 cars, blacklisted and so on. Do i have any place in this world anymore? i asked my self earlier. You got to have ability to ‘persuade’ youself to move forward. I have 5 shop now, and going to open more. don’t give up. “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.”

  36. […] some tips to help with my self-motivation problem.  Turns out Google is a great tool, and I found a blog post that answered my question perfectly. Some of the points that I related to the most include (i) Let […]

  37. Eric says:

    wow.. thanks for this beautiful article about motivate ourself.. great information..

  38. Ani says:

    take good care of ourselves.,
    see opportunities,
    execution opportunities.,
    failure to make valuable lesson,.

    thanks for this great article.
    i hope those who have read this article, be more passion in life.

  39. DANISH says:

    The messages are soo motivational and inspiring…. Great and thanks for such kind gift.

  40. mario sedano says:

    This article is so true. Thank you for share with the people up there and i like it alot

  41. Ej says:

    I wish I could do this tips. Thank you.

  42. Kaila says:

    I will definitly be trying these steps! Thanks.

  43. Michael says:

    That was wonderful. Just wonderful. I think I should have another read tomorrow. (: that k you for taking your time to write this. And thank you readers for supporting such a wonderful thing. GOOD LUCK TO YOU ALL!

  44. Nicely written and some excellent tips. I especially like the tip to think hunger instead of desire. It seems more personal, more dire, as if it needs to happen or else. That is the motivation I need to press through and leave my legacy for the world. Thank you.

  45. harriet says:

    very encouraging, this is an encouraging bits for people who have lost their value in life.

  46. Manish says:

    Boosted me…..
    thankyou u soooo much