What Motivates You
to Succeed in Life?

Let’s take a look at what motivates you to succeed and how you can apply this knowledge in your daily life.

While we often believe that hard work and determination are the keys to career success, what really drives our motivation levels? What keeps us going when everything seems to be against us? The answer isn’t as simple as you may think; however, understanding the factors behind your motivation can help you not only reach your goals, but also create a lasting change in your life.

Understand what drives you
Once you understand what helps you get out of bed lit up, it gets much easier to make decisions.
If you’re not sure what your motivation is, it may be worth figuring out what drives you. The rationale for the choices you make in life. The best way to do it is to reflect on what is important to you. Look at various aspects of your life - family, work, fun, health, friendship, love, spirituality. Are any of these areas more important than the others?

Everyone has a WHY. The "why" concept famously popularised by Simen Sinek in his TED talk “Start with Why". Life purpose is the “Why” that drives your life, it’s a core belief and the foundation that influences your life and career choices. Defining your life purpose is a way of understanding who you truly are.

Self-awareness and understanding your purpose helps you be content. Leading a life true to your core beliefs influences your sense of fulfilment. Your “Why” becomes a filter you can use to know if you are on course. Once you understand what helps you get out of bed lit up, it gets much easier to make decisions. Staying on track with your goals is easier. You gain clarity why you are doing what you are doing.

Next, you could look to understand your values. Your behaviour and decisions are connected to your personal values. These values reflect who you are. As a business coach for entrepreneurs I find creating values inventory helps my clients understand their motivations better.

If you find it hard to get started look at outside influences, like role-models, books or movies that have helped shape your current views on motivation.

Whatever approach works for you, remember: successful people are self-aware and understand what drives them.

Why motivation is important

Motivation is the fuel that keeps you going
The journey towards success can be a bumpy one. Often we feel like we’re not moving forward as quickly as we want, or worse, we feel like we’re taking steps backwards. These set-backs happen to everyone and they're okay. We get sucked into endless tasks that mount up and start losing perspective. We juggle multiple priorities and chase the next urgent thing.

When you focus on what is truly important to you, and focus on doing what resonates with you, the likelihood that you’ll persevere is much higher.

Some people find it easy to stay motivated to achieve their goals in life and at work, while others find themselves struggling and quitting early when they don’t get immediate results. The key is how you deal with setbacks: do you put your head down and plow ahead or do you give up?

Motivation is the fuel that keeps you going when things get hard. You may experience strong emotions along the way, but you keep going.

How do I get motivated?

Motivation is not about making yourself do what you don’t want to . It’s about reminding yourself why doing it is important to you and making a choice in favour of it.
Motivation can be tricky to figure out. It’s one of those things that people tell you is important, but no one seems to ever agree on how it works or how to keep it going.

The key is to keep yourself moving forward, and when motivation starts fizzling out, that’s when you really need a game plan.

The first step is understanding where your motivation comes from—what factors motivate you and what influences how motivated you feel at any given time. What makes you want to strive for career success? Your family? Your friends and co-workers? Making a difference in your community? Understanding your motivators can help ground your motivation so that you don’t lose sight of why you’re striving for success.

Try listing your daily motivations on a post-it note next to your monitor. Use it as a reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing and use it as inspiration!

When you are feeling stuck or uncertain, or when procrastination creeps in ask yourself - “is what I am doing right now important to me?” Don’t push yourself with “I must” or “I should”. Instead ask yourself “do I chose it because it brings me closer to my goals”? This is called reframing. It puts you in a driver’s seat. You have a choice.

You are the one making a choice to do something or not. Stop saying to yourself “I must go to the gym”, ask yourself - “is going to the gym important to me? If the answer is “yes”, it’s likely you will make a choice in favour of the gym. And you will feel less resistance about going to the gym when you are not driven by obligation. If the answer is “yes, its important to me but I don’t want to because I need some rest”, take responsibility for making a choice, which is right for you. And ditch the feeling of guilt about resting.

If you acknowledge that something is important to you but you consistently are making choices in favour of something else, then examine if your motivation is true. Maybe going to the gym isn’t it after all. Perhaps you are under pressure and giving yourself a break is more important.

In my view motivation is not about making yourself do what you don’t want to do. It’s about reminding yourself why doing it is important to you and making a choice in favour of it.
If the answer is “I’m too tired to finish the work report”. Don’t do it, take responsibility and make a choice of resting up or having some fun. Give yourself a break before you continue with the report.

Motivation in work

What motivates you to work hard? Is it the pay-check you get every week, or do you work because you care about your career success and want to prove yourself to the world?

A job is no longer a means to survive, it’s an important part of your life. It influences how you think about your fulfilment.

Work motivations are shifting, reshaping the workplace and how people view their career. According to the research from Bain & Company The Working Future, 58% of workers acknowledge the pandemic has forced them to rethink the balance between their work and their personal lives.

Compensation is still very important, but people consider other factors that influence their job satisfaction.

What strikes me is how different work motivations are globally.

While workers rank compensation first over any other aspect, it’s the top priority for just one in five workers.

In the US autonomy, team effort and excelling in one’s skills are top priorities. Workers in Germany desire interesting work and job security in equal measure. Italians seek job security as well as flexibility of the working hours. In China workers value prestige and want to work for companies that inspire. In Brazil however, workers seek learning & growth opportunities, whilst in Indonesia relationships with co-workers matter a lot.

Thinking about your own work and career motivation

What is most important to you?
How much does your income impact your happiness? Do you seek other benefits?

Is your work meaningful? Does the company inspire you?

Would you like to make a difference in the society?
Would you like to work on your own or as part of a team?

How important is the relationship with your colleagues?
Do you like being autonomous in your work?

Would you like change or is job security important to you?

Is it important that others view you as successful?
Does the job offer opportunities for learning & development?
What is work-life balance for you? Does flexibility matter? Fixed work hours? Part-time?
Would you like to come back to the office? Work remotely? 

Watch out for motivation dips

One of the biggest influences on work motivation is fatigue.

This can happen at any point in your career; you don’t have to be a senior-level executive. Research shows that most of us cycle through periods when we feel highly motivated, and at other times we don't feel like doing much at all. The big question is what can we do to overcome these motivation dips or prevent them from happening in the first place?

Try not to overthink things when you feel your motivation is dwindling.

During these times, you might find you are experiencing a dip in motivation. It’s important not to ignore this feeling for too long. The longer you wait, or let yourself slide into a rut, the harder it is to get back out again.

It’s during these dips that many of us start looking for excuses—but getting back on track doesn’t need an excuse! Instead, stop and do something productive: if you’re tired, go home and get some rest. Or perhaps create some additional rewards for yourself if you finish a project on time.

Motivation changes over time

Life is fluid. Motivation changes over time
All of us want to see success at work, but that often means we’re prone to being fearful of change. When new opportunities come up, or your career goals shift, how do you react?

If you’re like most people, you feel a sense of doubt about whether or not you can handle change coming your way. It may lead some people to stay in a place they’re unhappy with just because they don’t know how else to cope with change. Since human beings are creatures of habit, it can be scary and tough for us when our routines gets disrupted. Or things get out of control.

For some, motivating yourself is as simple as focusing on what you have already accomplished.

For others, it’s a matter of taking time each day to look at your larger goals and reminding yourself why achieving them is important.

With your goals clearly defined and your sense of motivation firmly planted, it’s time to create a plan for success. What changes will you make? Where will you start? What habits will you change or eliminate altogether in order to reach your goals sooner? If ever there was a time that an inspiring quote was appropriate...this is it! Sign up to a motivation app on your phone or follow #motivationalquotes on Instagram.

Understand the power of small goals

One of my favourite studies demonstrates how powerful small goals are was conducted by professors at Dominican University of California. They asked a group of high school students to write down their plans for their future study and achievement. Half were told to simply list some goals, while others were told to create SMART objectives (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound). The results were striking: 68% of those who created SMART objectives ended up achieving those goals compared with only 13% of non-SMART goal setters. More importantly, almost three times as many students who made their goals SMART went on to attend a four-year college or university.

If you want to get ahead professionally, set small goals for yourself and treat them like appointments. Allocate the time in your diary for these tasks.

It can be something as simple as sending a weekly email or attending a weekly meeting. Once you get into a routine, it becomes easier and easier. Small goals can also act as motivators since they only take minutes (or even seconds) to accomplish. Each time you check off a goal, your confidence builds—which motivates you to do more next time around!

Setting a goal releases the neurotransmitter dopamine which motivates you to take action. According to a study dopamine not only spikes when you set a goal for yourself but also when you are close to achieving the goal. The bigger the reward, the more powerful the spike.

Now apply this concept at a larger scale—and don’t stop until your dream is reached! Remember, a goal without a plan is only a dream. Set the goals, make plans and crush your dreams!



It’s easy to get caught up in big dreams and goals, but when it comes down to it, achieving these aspirations takes time. If you struggle with motivation today, start small. Don’t try to instantly propel yourself to your end goal, you’ll experience an overwhelm. A journey of achieving small goals makes you stronger.

When a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis, its wings are small and wet, and the butterfly cannot yet fly. To escape the cocoon the butterfly needs to struggle to free up her wings, to strengthen itself to fly.

Setting and achieving a series of goals is similar to the example with the butterfly. It’s similar to shedding your old self and training yourself to become the new person you want to be.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful,” - Herman Cain.

And knowing what you love comes from tuning into your internal compass and understanding what gives your life meaning and fulfilment - your motivations.

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