Motivated vs Self-Motivated: Which One Are You?

Published on: 11th April 2023, (c) Yash Chawla

 motivated or self-motivated which one are you

As I was enjoying a delicious chocolate ice cream with some acquaintances a few years ago in India, employee care came up. One person lamented that in today's world, employers treat workers like machines and don't appreciate their efforts. When I asked if most employees expect favorable treatment before delivering results, the consensus was that motivating employees is crucial for better output. But this got me thinking: why do some employees never face such a scenario?

Back in my university days, a wise faculty member pointed out that the world would soon favor self-motivated individuals over those waiting for others to inspire them. This life lesson has stayed with me and helped me thrive both in my personal and professional life. I've found that self-motivation has played a crucial role in my personal and professional endeavors. Rather than waiting for external sources of motivation, those who learn to find motivation within themselves to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals are the ones who rarely face situations like the ones discussed in the opening paragraph.

Are you self-motivated, or do you need someone else to motivate you?

It's essential to give yourself a reason to stay motivated; if you can do that, you're self-motivated. But if you're waiting for someone else to motivate you, you're on the other end of the spectrum - you're motivated by others.

One common analogy that can highlight the difference between self-motivation and external motivation is the comparison between the sun and the moon. The sun is an example of self-motivation since it radiates energy and light without relying on any external source. In contrast, the moon is an example of external motivation as it reflects light from the sun, depending on it for its glow. Similarly, self-motivated people are like the sun, able to generate energy and inspiration, while those who rely on external sources are like the moon, dependent on others for motivation.

Let's look at another example of a farmer and a bullock. After the summer season, the farmer is self-motivated to begin plowing the field, while the bullocks need the motivation to do the hard work. The farmer motivates the bullocks with love and, if necessary, with a stick. The same goes for employees: companies need farmers more than bullocks, individuals who are self-motivated and focused on long-term objectives rather than short-term gains.

Self-motivation is crucial for success, and it's something that should be consciously developed. Some self-motivated individuals never have to ask for what they deserve in organizations. Management recognizes and rewards these farmers because they are the key to the organization's success.

How to trigger self-motivation?

If you're struggling with motivation, here are some tips to help you become self-motivated

Set clear goals

Setting clear and specific goals is crucial for staying motivated and achieving success. It gives you a sense of direction and focuses, making it easier to prioritize tasks and stay on track. To set clear goals, you should start by identifying what you want to achieve and breaking it down into smaller, achievable milestones. These milestones should be measurable, realistic, and time-bound. Doing so lets you track your progress and feel a sense of accomplishment as you achieve each milestone.

Break down large tasks into smaller ones

Large tasks can be daunting and overwhelming, leading to procrastination and demotivation. Breaking them into smaller, more manageable tasks can make them less intimidating and easier to accomplish. This technique, also known as "chunking," can help you approach tasks systematically and break them into logical steps. Doing so lets you stay motivated and focused as you see progress at each stage.

Celebrate small wins

Celebrating small wins is an effective way to stay motivated and build momentum toward achieving your goals. It helps you acknowledge your progress and accomplishments, boosting your confidence and self-esteem. Celebrating small wins can also help you stay focused and motivated as you see your progress toward your larger goals. Whether it's treating yourself to a nice meal, taking a break, or sharing your success with others, celebrating small wins is essential to staying motivated.

Surround yourself with positive people

Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people can significantly impact your motivation and success. Positive people can inspire and encourage you, providing the necessary support to keep going, even when things get tough. They can offer a fresh perspective, provide feedback, and offer a sense of camaraderie and accountability. Choosing people who share your values, goals, and aspirations is essential, as they can help you stay focused and motivated toward achieving success.


To summarize, self-motivation is a critical aspect of personal and professional success. Waiting for external sources of motivation can lead to demotivation and an inability to achieve one's goals. Individuals can overcome obstacles and stay focused on their long-term objectives by developing self-motivation. Setting clear goals, breaking down large tasks into smaller ones, celebrating small wins, and surrounding oneself with positive people are effective ways to trigger self-motivation. In today's world, self-motivated individuals are the farmers that organizations need to achieve success rather than the bullocks that need constant motivation. By becoming self-motivated, individuals can become invaluable assets to their organizations and thrive personally and professionally.