Updated: Aug 26
Yes, you read the title correctly. The main reason why we run out of motivation is that we go out searching for it.
As a student myself, there have been times when I felt unmotivated to do anything - my first two years in college were pretty much like this. And back then, I did not know how to get out of that rut.
We all experience this at some point, so I wanted to write this article for those who struggle with motivation. Not many people know this, but most times, WE are the ones that contribute to our own demotivation.
I will explain how in a second - and I want to bring a new perspective on motivation that you can use to help you during troubling times at school or in any other aspect of your life.
Why Searching For Motivation Doesn’t Work
As weird as it sounds, searching for motivation can be counterintuitive. Doing so implies that your motivation needs to be found elsewhere.
If you search for motivation, what you will most likely find are temporary emotional boosts, and you can develop an attachment to these short-term happy feelings that give you a boost in dopamine. Dopamine itself is not a bad thing - a good balance can keep us refreshed. But too much of this chemical in the brain can lead to things like addiction, poor impulse control, and other mental conditions.
Motivation is one of the primary things that increase dopamine in the brain, so constantly looking for this feeling and hopping from one resource to the next can negatively impact your life in many ways. One of the worst effects of chasing dopamine, is developing a dependence on whatever source you are receiving your good feeling from.
That reliance can end up hindering your performance, because that source can become a prerequisite for any action that you want to take.
Consider this, you have schoolwork to do but feel unmotivated to do it, so you start to play some music to help. If you overdo it with the tunes and play them for every single assignment, you can become dependent on that source of motivation. Not only can it be a little distracting, but you might start to struggle when you have to work without music.
Over-dependence can lead to a reduction in autonomy, and Research from PsychCentral shows that people who lack autonomy have a higher chance of being influenced by others, developing stress, and being emotionally abused.
This is not to say that motivation is bad - there are healthy ways to manage this feeling. The most important thing to realize about motivation is that it is a natural feeling that you cannot outsource. If you want real motivation, you have to understand its intrinsic foundation.
Feelings like motivation, inspiration, drive, and purpose are all intrinsic. Many people do not realize this because they believe that external sources are the only way to receive motivation.
Extrinsic sources DO NOT give you true motivation - they often bring out the intrinsic motivation that you already have.
You do not have to rely on outside sources to address an inside problem - the greatest motivator you have is yourself.
I have spent some time thinking about self-motivation and I want to help others increase their natural motivation. So, here are some actionable tips that you can do today to help build motivation naturally.
4 Ways To Build Intrinsic Motivation
1. The Power of The Reason Why
People with reasons behind their actions are automatically more motivated to pursue them. When you create reasons, you feel more in control and confident about your decisions - you have something to shoot for instead of randomly putting things together and hoping for the best.
Next time you do something you enjoy, form one concrete objective that you want to accomplish and ask yourself:
"Why is this something that I want?"
Write your answer somewhere and refer back to it when you need it.
2. Make Your Demotivating Environment Motivational
As I mentioned before, external things bring out our intrinsic motivation. So, use this to your advantage by changing up your demotivating environment and turning it into a positive one. This can be something as small as tidying up your dorm room or getting cool decorations.
Make the place where you spend the most time, your favorite place.
Your environment also includes the people you hang around. Your friend groups and communities contribute to your overall well-being, so make sure that they remain healthy and remove any destructive and demotivating people.
3. Embrace Imperfections
There is nothing wrong with imperfection. There are times in life when things will not go how you plan. You will make mistakes. But these hurdles do not dictate who you are, they shape you and help you become the person you want to be.
Things may not be ideal at first, but the more attempts you make, the more chances you get to succeed. Embrace the lessons you learn along the way.
4. Motivational People Do Motivational Things
Everyone gets motivated by doing something that inspires them. You can boost natural motivation by engaging in thought-provoking or creative activities. Learning a new skill, practicing a hobby you are good at, or helping others, can easily lift your mood and inspire you. Actions like this can also help make you a happier person overall.
A Motivational Sendoff
We are all born to feel motivated, even though it may not seem like it sometimes. It can be hard to see your purpose when life does not give you a reason to, which is why you must understand how to build those reasons naturally.
Searching outside of yourself to solve an internal problem can cost you. You do not have to send yourself on an endless goose chase to develop motivation. You are already at the best starting place – start within yourself.
Thank you for reading! But before we go, I would love to end this piece with a question for you.
What will you change about your life today to increase your intrinsic motivation?
Let us know in the comments below 💬👇🏼
Bajaj, K. (2023, Jan 24). Routines are great, but spontaneity is the key to brain expansion – here’s why. MBG Health. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/why-being-spontaneous-is-key-to-mental-health
Brenner, B. (2019, Sep 16). Creativity is your secret advantage for mental health and well-being. Therapy Group pf NYC. https://nyctherapy.com/therapists-nyc-blog/creativity-is-your-secret-advantage-for-mental-health-and-well-being/
Campbell, E. (2015, Sep 24). Six surprising benefits of curiosity. Greater Good. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/six_surprising_benefits_of_curiosity
Firestone, L. The benefits of generosity. Psych Alive. https://www.psychalive.org/benefits-of-generosity/
Health Direct. (2021). Dopamine. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dopamine
Lancer, D. (2016, May 17). Exploring autonomy, locus of control, and self-efficacy. PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/lib/co-dependency-put-the-i-in-independence#2
Written By: Avion Howard