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Self Motivation and Self Esteem

Written by Karl Perera BA, MA, DipLC
Updated: October 28th, 2020

Self Motivation

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I understand just how soul-destroying life can be with low self esteem and the lack of self motivation that often accompanies it. I experienced the pain of both for many years. In the end, even though getting help is always recommended, your motivation can only come from one place, deep within you. I will try here to help you with what I have learned from experience and what we know from research so that you can understand what self motivation is and how to improve yours.

Self motivation is the positive drive within you to start and finish tasks. Motivation helps you to begin new projects, and pushes you to set goals and to face challenges in life confidently. Without self motivation, you may procrastinate or, worse, ignore the things you need to do.

Definition of self motivation:

initiative to undertake or continue a task or activity without another’s prodding or supervision. (2020)

As you can see from the definition above, self motivation is a skill that will help you stay on track without the need for other people to push you or remind you of something you need to do. You need to be confident and positive in your inner self to have self motivation and self esteem can help you. Self Esteem will enable you to look at your potential and commit yourself to moving forward. This is why if you want to improve your self motivation you also need to work on your level of self esteem. Let’s take a look more closely at how these two are connected.

According to Ryan and Deci (2000), self motivation has its source in three areas. These are your ability to do something, your level of independence and how relevant the task or goal is to you. I maintain that we also need confidence and a healthy level of self esteem to believe in our ability and to foster independence. They will also help you with commitment to your goals, so that you don’t give up.

Self Motivation Is Related To Your Self Esteem

In order for you to be motivated to take on challenges, especially if they seem difficult or involve doing something new, you need a positive view of who you are and what you can do. If you believe in yourself, and your ability to take on new responsibilities or face new challenges, then you are more likely to take steps to achieve your goals. This seems a good point to ask: what goals do you have?

Once you set your goals this is where you need self motivation and self esteem to keep going, especially when you face a problem. It is easy to stay motivated when you are experiencing success, but what about when things go wrong or you suffer a setback? Your self esteem can help you face setbacks in a positive way and overcome them. In the book, The physical self: From motivation to well-being, edited by Edward Fox, it is explained how self esteem and confidence determine how much disappointment a person will tolerate and how long they will persist with a goal before giving up. Low self esteem makes giving up appear to be a good option, but it often isn’t.

Self Motivation and Your Inner Self Talk

What you say to yourself is extremely important. If you are to become self motivated, you need to encourage yourself every step of the way with positive self talk. A major reason why many people give up when things get difficult, or never start in the first place, is because of negative self talk. This self talk is the voice you hear in your mind telling you things like “you can’t do this, this is not for you, you’re not strong enough, your not smart enough, it’s impossible, others will laugh at this idea”, or many other discouraging words.

To be a success in life, whatever that means to you, you need self motivation and self esteem. If you have these, you have everything you need to improve and grow.

Self Motivation Can Transform Your Life.

You cannot always rely on others to encourage you, if you have positive friends who are always there when you need them then you are indeed lucky and very much in the minority. In any case, your self esteem depends on your ability to be independent and having the self confidence to be able to cope with whatever life throws at you.

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This interesting article by Baumeister and Tice contains research that found people with high self esteem created goals to improve themselves and develop strengths, whereas those with low self esteem create goals that seek to deal with personal weaknesses. This means that developing self esteem will help you to look at life in a more positive way, and help you pursue the goals that help you grow and learn new skills.

Learn to Believe in Yourself and Stop Relying on Others

As self motivation and self esteem go together, you need to believe that you can rely on yourself when you need to. Truly, our success in life is made easier with the help of others, but ultimately it is you who will make the decisions and commit to not giving up on your dreams and goals.

If you have few friends, this becomes even more important as it will be you against the world. When you face difficulties in life, you must rely on your own motivation to get you through. At these times it is so easy to give up.

You need self motivation to achieve because if you don’t encourage yourself to accept opportunity and challenge who will?

Self Motivation Helps You To Find Direction In Life

To find direction in life you need to decide where you want to be in the next months or years. The first step is setting goals and the second is achieving them. The third step is deciding what to do after that. Each step requires self motivation.

My advice is to get started making smaller goals with your bigger goal in the back of your mind. Concentrate on reaching and enjoying each milestone and achievement along the way. Reward yourself for staying on track and for not giving up! It is so important to be motivated, to enjoy the journey of life, including the ups and downs.

Take Up A New Hobby That Motivates You

To take up a new activity, hobby or challenge is to allow time for you. To do something that makes you happy and challenges you. This kind of activity stimulates your learning and creative side and can reduce stress. It will take your mind away from problems. Spending time on a hobby you love is an example of self care. Life shouldn’t be about responsibilities and work all the time, leave some time for your own enjoyment and fulfillment.

I’ve recently put this into practice by taking up the hobby of astronomy and astrophotography. I now spend evenings under the stars viewing the night sky through my telescope and attempting to photograph the beauty of the heavens.

Self motivation and self esteem from a hobby

To be enthusiastic about life it is necessary to continue to learn and develop yourself and your talents for you. Feed your brain and satisfy your curiosity, and learn. You’ll be happier and more fulfilled.

Develop The Courage To Keep Going Despite Challenges and Setbacks

To have the courage to see things through despite setbacks or negative comments from others, you really need to be tough inside. This is where your self esteem and confidence can really help you to survive the setbacks.

It takes courage to set goals and be determined to achieve them because often others will criticize you, or laugh at your ideas. Don’t listen! Keep your dreams clearly in your mind and go for them without fear of what others say. Be determined to prove them wrong.

Your attitude towards mistakes and refusing to see them as failures can really boost your self motivation and self esteem. Overcoming setbacks despite what others tell you, or despite your own self criticism, can really build your self confidence.

Do you lack self motivation ?

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  • Baumeister, R. F., & Tice, D. M. (1985). Self‐esteem and responses to success and failure: Subsequent performance and intrinsic motivation. Journal of personality53(3), 450-467.
  • Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American psychologist55(1), 68.
  • Fox, K. R. (1997). The physical self: From motivation to well-being. Human Kinetics.
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Website Author and Editor Bio

Photo of Karl Perera, MA, DipLC Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA) and author of Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run since 1997 and is an expert in Self Esteem and Self Confidence.