Types of motivation: How to stay motivated in the long term

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Types of motivation: How to stay motivated in the long term

"I'm totally motivated!" When was the last time you said that sentence? Do you remember the feelings associated with it? Motivation is the quintessence of our actions. Without motivation, we would literally freeze. Each of your daily actions happens because of different motives that drive you to do certain things.

In common usage, the term motivation is predominantly positively associated with the achievement of personal goals. This is quite true, but the topic is much more complex. There are different types of motivation, which you can use in different ways.

What is motivation?

Motivation is the totality of all conscious and unconscious motives for which you perform certain actions. The term itself is of Latin origin:

lt. motus = movement

Motivation is therefore a kind of motor that sets us in motion. If you keep moving, you are motivated. Being motivated is closely related to the feeling of willpower, determination, perseverance and volition. In fact, the latter aspects must be added for motivation to lead to the desired result.

Why do you get up in the morning?

Motivation is of elementary importance in all areas of life. In order for it to be triggered, however, a sufficiently weighty incentive (motivator) is required. Let's take a very simple example to illustrate this: Why do you get up on Monday morning? Many people feel listless and listless at the beginning of the week. Yet very few of them stay in bed.

Possible reasons:

  • I depend on the job.
  • I want to advance my career.
  • To seize the day.
  • I don't want to let my colleagues down.
  • I'm looking forward to my work.

Of course, the basic needs such as hunger, thirst or the emptying of the oppressive bladder also play a supporting role when getting up in the morning. So you see that motivators can be completely different in nature. What drives one person to peak performance can be completely meaningless to another.

The difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

Furthermore, it is important to distinguish where the motivation comes from. Does it come from deep within you or is the drive for your actions more external? Researchers now agree that there are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. You can think of the two types as two opposite poles.

Intrinsic motivation

The intrinsic motivation comes from within yourself. It corresponds to your deepest inner desires. If you are intrinsically motivated, you are driven by your passions. The opinions of others don't matter. Intrinsic motivation is the most powerful kind of motivation. It inspires you to do your best and helps you achieve your goals in life.

Intrinsic motivation goes hand in hand with a feeling of Satisfaction along with it. It also makes you self-confident: I can do this! I want that! I can do this! These are the guiding principles of an intrinsically motivated person.

Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation comes from external incentives and factors. You do something to meet someone else's expectation. Through your behavior you try to gain advantages or avoid punishment. The main extrinsic motivators are usually material or financial. Sometimes, however, it is also about social recognition.

Example: You feel good in your body and are healthy. However, other people repeatedly tell you that you should lose a little weight. You follow this impulse in order to please others and to receive recognition. For your personal well-being, the weight loss would not have been necessary. You have followed an extrinsic motivation.

Extrinsic motivation depends on the current external factors. If the corresponding incentives fall away, it dwindles. It is self-explanatory that long-term success cannot be achieved in this way. Example: You take on a special task at work for a bonus payment. If the financial incentive is removed, you would no longer make an effort.

Are extrinsic and intrinsic motivation mutually exclusive?

No, this does not necessarily have to be the case. In practice, it is relatively common for both types of motivation to complement each other. Over time, however, it often happens that extrinsic incentives push intrinsic motivation into the background. This is particularly common among people who have turned their hobby into a profession.

Fulfilling your life's dream was once the intrinsic motivation. You gave everything to achieve that goal. Now you can live off your earnings. Suddenly must go to you pursue your former hobby to earn money. You want to satisfy your clientele, possibly you are also responsible for some employees.

In addition, the fear of failure circulates in the back of the mind, because professional self-employment always goes hand in hand with a certain risk. All these aspects gradually extinguish intrinsic motivation. This cannot be avoided entirely, otherwise money and recognition would have to be meaningless. To believe this would be unrealistic.

The goal is to maintain a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. The only way to do this is to keep listening to your inner voice: Why did you start? What do you really want to achieve?

The difference between motivation and volition

We have already defined what motivation is. However, this alone is not sufficient to put goals into practice. This requires the necessary will. This is where volition comes into play. Volition is therefore also known as implementation competence. Without the latter, it is not possible to turn desires into reality. No matter how motivated you are.

The process from motivation to volition is as follows:

  1. Desires, motives, good intentions > Motivation
  2. Setting Goals > Volition
  3. Planning > Volition
  4. Action > Volition
  5. Result > Volition

Have you ever wondered why some people, despite great motivation and tireless commitment, fail again and again to achieve their goals, while others manage the same project with ease? Most of the time it is the fault of the much quoted inner pig. This comes into play especially when you do not know your own competencies or do not know how to use them.

Volition is therefore not to be confused with dogged ambition. Rather, it is the wise use of your strengths and emotions is meant. For this reason, volition is also called the efficiency of the will.

Volition is based on the following five competencies:

  1. Prioritize: Identify what really gets you closer to your goal.
  2. Dealing with emotions: Learn to get over failure more easily.
  3. Planning ahead: Solve problems immediately, before they accumulate.
  4. Strong Self-confidenceBelieve in your inner strength and in your professional competence.
  5. Healthy self-discipline: Stay on the ball, even when things get difficult. Don't let yourself be distracted from your goals.

The difference to motivation explained by example

Volition and motivation are not the opposite of each other. Rather, the two aspects complement each other. Nevertheless, a distinction can be made on the basis of illustrative examples.

Example 1

You're inspired to write a novel. Your head is bubbling over with the most amazing ideas. The intrinsic motivation to realize this life goal is huge. Unfortunately, it stays with the dreaming. You sit in front of your desk and have no concept how to start. Then the doubts come, "This is a lot of work. Do I really want to put myself through this?"

Although the desire is great, you eventually give up in frustration. Motivation alone is not enough. It would have taken volition to make it happen. In this case, you would have developed a concept (plot), set writing goals, sought out test readers, and possibly already looked into the various publishing options.

Example 2

You want to clear out your apartment. The mess bothers you so much that you don't feel comfortable anymore. The furniture is broken and the walls could do with a fresh coat of paint. But when you come home from work in the evening, you're tired and don't have the energy to do anything about it. Although you desperately want a change, you remain inactive.

Here it shows again: Without volition it remains wishful thinking. If the latter had been available, you would have approached the project in a structured way. You would have sorted: What do I still need and what can be disposed of? You would have set yourself daily goals, e.g. on Monday you would tidy up the kitchen and on Tuesday the cellar. Without Volition you feel incapable of actively doing something against the disturbing condition.

The two directions of motivation ("away-from" and "towards")

In addition to the two incentive systems (extrinsic and intrinsic), a further distinction can be made between two motivational directions: "away-from" and "towards". The designation already gives an idea of what is meant here.


The so-called away-from-motivation is when you want to escape from an undesirable state. This can be, for example, a conflict at work or family quarrels. All of your actions are motivated by the goal of avoiding these conditions. The away-from-motivation is comparable to a kind of escape reaction.

Example: You take a different route to work so you don't run into the unpleasant work colleague already on the bus.

The away-from-motivation can be very powerful. Some people will do anything to escape their personal suffering. Good examples of the away-from-motivation are (surgical) cosmetic surgery or moving somewhere to start a new life.

Towards Motivation

Towards motivation embodies the complete opposite of away-from motivation. Instead of avoiding situations, you want to bring them about. Accordingly, they are mostly pleasant things.

Example: You have met a nice man / woman and are specifically looking for the conversation to get to know him or her better.

How do I find new motivation?

Find new motivation

Everyone feels unmotivated from time to time. However, if the condition persists over a long period of time, it can be very frustrating. Especially when unfinished tasks pile up. To find new motivation, you should first find out what exactly is blocking you from creating. There can be several possible reasons for this:

  • Overload
  • Fears
  • no or wrong targets
  • Conflicting values

To find the cause, you have to be honest with yourself. Even if unpleasant truths come to light. Let's say you've been promoted at work and now feel overwhelmed by the new responsibilities. Maybe you are paralyzed by the fear of not being able to cope with the growing responsibility. It's no wonder that your motivation begins to wane.

Once you have uncovered your personal motivation killers, you need to counteract them in a targeted manner. Let's stick with the example above. If you find yourself in a new professional position overwhelmed and anxious, you can take the following steps:

  • Get an overview of the tasks to be done and sort them by priority.
  • Set goals: What do I do and when?
  • Don't be afraid to take on tasks delegateif this is necessary.
  • Stay in contact with other people. Get support.
  • Strengthen your Self-confidenceYou have everything you need to master the tasks ahead.

Basically, it is important to keep focusing on your personal values to reflect on them. You can only gain motivation if your actions are in harmony with them. You will never be motivated to carry out a task that you actually dislike deep down. You can find more tips and advice on how to get and stay motivated here:

Motivational incentive through professional coaching

Sometimes you simply need external stimuli to get you motivated again. In this case, a professional Coaching might be the right thing for you. You will be given the knowledge you need to inner bastard to trick them. The topic Self-reflection plays a decisive role. changes need courage. This applies both in a private and professional context.

An Motivational Coaching puts you as a person in the foreground. The aim is to overcome blocking Beliefs to recognize and let go.

Example: When you were a child, someone once told you that you couldn't express yourself well verbally. Today, as an adult, you are unsafeas soon as you have to speak in front of other people. The motivation to try is correspondingly low. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy: Since you think you can't speak well, this is probably the case.

5 tips to increase your motivation in everyday life

Staying motivated in the daily grind is not that easy. It quickly happens that important projects are postponed or even completely pushed into the background. Fortunately, there are some helpful tips and tricks to prevent this:

1. the power of colours and music

It has long been scientifically proven that colours have an influence on our psyche. Make use of this knowledge! A red screen background increases your attention. Tough tasks are easier for you to handle. Blue, on the other hand, conveys a feeling of security. If you feel safe, you will make more courageous decisions. Dynamic background music also has a motivating effect.

2. planning is the be-all and end-all

Concrete planning is needed to turn wishful thinking into realistic goals. The more concrete, the better. For example, instead of simply talking about wanting to lose weight, you should give concrete figures, e.g. 15 kilos in 6 months. Divide the big goal into several small steps. Achieving the milestones is incredibly motivating.

Determine what you need to achieve the goal. Let's stick with the weight loss example: calculate your calorie needs and put together a nutrition plan. Stick to fixed training days and a fixed training duration. Most importantly, once the planning is done, get started. Today, not next week!

3. visualize your goals

Allow yourself to dream about your future: where will you be in life when you have this Target reached have? How great and strong will you feel? How fulfilling will your new everyday life be? Visualize all of this, preferably in the evening before you go to bed.

4th Coaching Course: Motivation at the push of a button

You are stuck in a motivation low and need stimulation from the outside? Our coaching course includes 6 motivating coaching videosThese will help you to actively work on your goals again. As soon as a low point threatens, you will learn how to motivate yourself at the push of a button:

5. your time is finite

Thoughts about the finiteness of life can bring about a change in thinking. Keep reminding yourself that your time is limited. Do you really want to waste it fussing over trivialities or doing a job that doesn't fulfill you? The thought of your own end motivates you to finally take the initiative. You decide what you want to do with your life.

Increase motivation at work / in the job

In hardly any area of life is motivation such a big issue as in the job. This applies equally to managers and employees. Extrinsic incentives are usually used to make work tasks more appealing (e.g. financial rewards or compensatory time off). If the prospect of reward is removed, this demotivates employees.

Even if extrinsic incentives are definitely justified in the job, intrinsic impulses should also be used. As a manager, you can find out how to motivate your employees to reach their full potential here:

As an employee, you should ask yourself if your job is really a calling for you. Even if this is not the case (at the moment), the job can possibly help you to achieve your actual goals. Keep in mind what the job is worth pursuing. Are you gaining valuable experience? Are you meeting interesting people? Can you prove your competences?

Why do you actually work? The following lecture from our Greator Festival can give you some clarity on this:

Find motivation problems through our free personality test

Only if you know what is slowing you down can you do something about it. Sometimes demotivation is rooted in your own personality structure as well as in entrenched thought patterns. A good way to expose these is to conduct a scientifically based personality test.

Therefore we would like to offer you at this point the free DISC personality test your heart:

The test focuses on the four predominant types of behaviour and provides information on how they behave or are motivated in certain situations.


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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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