How Do I Get Motivated?

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

How Do I Get Motivated?

How do I get motivated or how to improve my motivation are great questions and ones that are frequently asked of me as a practicing licensed psychologist in Jacksonville, Florida. What is Motivation? Written for D’Arienzo Psychological Group by University of North Florida (UNF) Psychology Student and Future Industrial Organizational Psychologist, Brandon Araujo in December 2013, offers us great insight about the theory of motivation and how motivation is related to Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.” 

What is Motivation?

Motivation is the psychological feature that arouses action from an organism. Behind everything we do there is some source of motivation, whether it be in the form of a desire, a need, or a fear. There are two main types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is the stimuli coming from within an individual, meaning that they perform a task to fulfill a desire that is related to their belief system. Some forms of intrinsic motivation are, curiosity, power, belonging, and enjoyment. This type of motivation has been found to be the most effective and the most meaningful. Extrinsic motivation is the stimuli coming from an outside source that compels an individual to take action. Some examples of extrinsic motivation are food, money, praise, and promotions. While extrinsic motivation typically works for smaller less important tasks it seems to be ineffective with more important and meaningful goals.

Abraham Maslow, who was a 19th century psychologist, is famous for his theory of motivation (Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). This theory explains that extrinsic motivation is far less meaningful than intrinsic motivation. In this theory he proposed that motivation is broken up into five desires and rated them from basic needs to highly meaningful desires.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Motivation
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Motivation

The first of these five and the most basic are physiological needs such as sex, food, water, and sleep. Next is the desire to feel safe from financial, personal and health related dangers. In the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy is the desire for love, belonging, and intimate relationships. Towards the top is the desire for self-esteem, confidence, and respect. The most meaningful and the most impactful motivational factor is the desire for self-actualization. This factor is highly intrinsic and describes our desire as humans to fully understand ourselves.

As a society we focus mainly on the bottom of this pyramid, which creates a sense of complacency to only want basic needs such as food, sex, and money, which decreases our motivation to complete more meaningful tasks. The best way to become more motivated is to change the rewards we link our goals with from these basic needs to the higher desires on the pyramid, such as, a sense of pride, a better understanding of our moral beliefs, and an increase in our talents. Being able to do this is highly dependent on our ability to think positively and see the possible importance of completing tasks, even the mundane ones. For example lets take the task of typing up multiple handwritten files. At first one may create the preconceived mindset that it is a pointless boring task they are only doing it make money. This results in low quality work due to their lack of motivation. On the other hand, a positive thinker may see it as an opportunity to develop his/her typing skills and will most likely enjoy typing up the files, which would cause the quality of work to increase. By incorporating this positive mindset of striving for highly meaningful goals and rewards, we can greatly increase our motivational levels, thus resulting in a more successful and satisfying life.

At D’Arienzo Psychological Group, we offer couples counseling, marriage therapy, psychotherapy, life coaching, and clinical and forensic psychological services in Jacksonville, Florida.