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Ready to be inspired? Here are 11 self-motivation examples

June 30, 2022 - 18 min read


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What is motivation?

11 examples of self-motivation

4 elements of self-motivation

Why is self-motivation so important at work?

How to show self-motivation in a job interview

What causes demotivation in the workplace?

How to show self-motivation at work

Something to remember: the importance of obligation

If you’re wondering how you can achieve your goals and get inspired, self-motivation examples can help. 

The thing is, motivated people, don't just wake up in the morning and drink motivation juice. Like most of us, they probably drink coffee — but that isn’t their secret. Staying motivated takes hard work, a positive attitude, and a lot of focus. 

We can find examples of self-motivation everywhere. Think about it: To complete tasks and do your goal-setting, you need motivation. Something gets you out of bed in the morning, convinces you to turn on your coffee maker, and helps you choose an outfit. 

That might be your job, your family, or your desire to work out. And while sometimes that motivation is hard to find, we depend on it to succeed in life. 

We all need to fine-tune our motivation skills and become self-motivated to achieve our goals. We’re here to show you why self-motivation is important, some self-motivation examples, how to improve motivation at work, and more. Let's go.

What is motivation?

Motivation is behind what you do every day. It pushes you to go to work and hit the gym. Your motivation also pushes you to accomplish your goals and complete your everyday tasks. It helps you to find your passions and learn how to manage yourself.

You should know that there are two main types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is all about what we want to do and relates to our values and interests — typically, self-motivation is intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation makes us act because there are external factors like rewards at stake. These rewards can be things like good grades and earning money. 

When it comes to learning, motivation is extra important. Studies have actually found that extrinsic motivation can sometimes undermine our intrinsic motivators. But without intrinsic motivations, our rewards don't always motivate us.

For example, we won't grasp the purpose of a lesson in school or a course without an internal reason. Intrinsic motivation leads to enhanced learning, creativity, wellness, and more

What rewards are most effective also depends on our interests or values. If we had to take a course on a subject we didn’t like, a reward of a passing grade might not be enough incentive to motivate us. But if it’s a subject we love, we’ll be inspired to learn and achieve a high grade.

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11 examples of self-motivation

What's fun about self-motivation is that it can come in all forms. It’s not just useful for our personal goals, either. Self-motivation is everywhere. However, since it covers such a broad array of areas, it's helpful to have some examples of what self-motivation is.

Here are 11 examples of self-motivation for you to think about:

  1. Tidying up your room when things get messy because you want it to be organized and calming
  2. Washing your dishes right after you use them because it’ll make your space clean
  3. Watering the flowers in your backyard because you’ll see how much your plants grow
  4. Helping your mom out with some chores without her asking because it’ll make you feel productive and supportive
  5. Working through a disagreement with your partner calmly because you want to be on the same page 
  6. Helping to boost your friend's self-esteem because you want to see them thrive
  7. Starting your workday on time each day because you want to create a structured routine and finish on time
  8. Volunteering to help out on extra projects at work because you’re happy to help where you can
  9. Remaining focused at work and avoiding social media because you know that social media tends to drain your energy
  10. Pointing out problems and providing solutions on projects because you want your work to succeed
  11. Working out to boost your mood because you value physical activity

4 elements of self-motivation

Self-motivation doesn't happen as a result of wishful thinking. It happens when four important elements work together at the same time. If we have one but not the other, we'll be missing important parts of what it means to be motivated.

Here are the four elements of self-motivation:

1. Personal drive to accomplish your goals

When we discuss this element, it's all about mindset. We can have two types of mindsets: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, we believe that we can't change or improve, and the skills we have now are the only ones we'll ever have.

A growth mindset, on the other hand, invites challenges. It welcomes the opportunity to learn new skills, grow, and improve ourselves. A growth mindset is key when it comes to motivation.


2. A balance of optimism and resilience

Resilience is all about thinking of ways to turn negative events around. We need to think rationally and logically about our obstacles to overcome them. Our optimism is there to help out with that. It helps us develop a positive attitude and still believe in ourselves. Resiliency helps us bounce back, but optimism helps our well-being.

3. Commitment level to your goals

Our goals should be connected to our core values and what we can do to live meaningful lives. But it's not always easy to point those things out. If you find that your commitment level to your goals is poor, you might need to evaluate them.

If they’re unrealistic, you may be discouraged or disappointed when you can’t achieve them. Make sure you’re committed to reasonable, authentic goals. Try setting SMART goals to stay motivated.

4. Taking the initiative to work hard

Your dreams and goals aren't going to be achieved by anyone except yourself. Taking the initiative to put in hard work and remain focused is important if we want to stay motivated.

Sometimes we have to face things we don't want to that might be difficult, but that doesn't mean they aren't worth it. Our initiative can also bring us positive opportunities. These will allow us to experience things that wouldn't have happened unless we worked for them.

It can be challenging to remain committed to your goals all by yourself. BetterUp can help sustain your motivation levels as you continue your hard work to be your best self.

Why is self-motivation so important at work?


Why is self-motivation important in the workplace, and why should we set goals for self-improvement anyways? Well, for many reasons, actually. 

One of them is that we should be bringing our whole selves to work. If you have motivation outside of work, why not bring it with you to the office? Our work values will help dictate our ability to stay intrinsically motivated in the workplace. 

However, if you can’t find the spark, it might be time for a career change. Finding a job that fulfills your purpose and aligns with your values will improve your overall well-being. Plus, it’ll help you motivate yourself.

Feeling like we're making progress and accomplishing things at the end of the day is great. Your boss isn't going to tell you that you're doing good work for nothing, so we have to put effort into our jobs. When we have to do some teamwork to complete tasks, we might also rely on our motivation to get us through it if we're used to working independently. 

Motivation at work is important for business reasons as well. Studies have shown that workplaces with engaged, interested, and motivated employees are up to 43% more productive. If you aren’t interested in your work, it’s harder to do it — and do it well. 

Plus, Gallup found that in 2021, only 35% of US employees were engaged with their work. Of the disengaged employees, 74% said they were actively looking for new work. Motivation and engagement help keep employee turnover rates low and the quality of work high.

How to show self-motivation in a job interview

A job interview is a great place to give examples of your self-motivation. Hiring managers want to see that you're interested in the work, value what you'd be doing, and don't need to constantly be told what to do. Make sure you answer your interview questions thoughtfully and in alignment with the job description. 


Here are eight examples of describing self-motivation in a job interview:

  1. Talk about when you did great work because of your passion
  2. Give an example of when and how you overcame an obstacle independently 
  3. Mention your strong work ethic 
  4. Describe with personal anecdotes how self-motivation is a core trait of yours
  5. Stay optimistic with your answers
  6. Avoid one-word answers or examples with external motivators 
  7. Give an example that displays your commitment and resilience
  8. Admit when you've made mistakes, but highlight how they taught you important things

What causes demotivation in the workplace?

Knowing how to handle a motivation problem is difficult when you don't know what causes it. To keep people inspired at work and boost their motivation, it's important to identify what might cause these things to decline.

Let's review the five potential causes of employee demotivation at work:

  1. They're bored: When employees aren't passionate about what they're doing, they won't have a sense of accomplishment even after reaching their goals.
  2. They lack confidence: Without a strong leader setting a good example, employees might not know what healthy motivation looks like.
  3. They feel unappreciated: Employees who know that their efforts are valued and appreciated will work better than those who don't feel like their actions matter.
  4. They lack growth opportunities: If people know that they don't have anything else to learn or ways to grow, they won't sustain their motivation levels.
  5. External issues: We all have lives outside of work. The problems we face in our personal lives can carry over and impact how we work professionally.

How to show self-motivation at work

If you already have plenty of self-motivation or want to flex your newly developed skill, there are a few good ways to do that. You can demonstrate that you're a self-motivated employee to your team members and managers with a few tips.


Give one of these six ideas a try next time you're at work:

  1. Smile and greet your team in the mornings
  2. Share suggestions on projects and listen to feedback
  3. Take the initiative on projects, especially when nobody else will
  4. Participate in professional events that are outside of your working office
  5. Inquire into career development opportunities
  6. Put in the effort to become a better leader

Something to remember: the importance of obligation

We've discussed self-motivation examples, why self-motivation is important, and how we can demonstrate it at work. But one last thing we're going to highlight is an obligation. It's not a type of motivation that's necessarily intrinsic or extrinsic, but it still influences us to act. 

When we feel obligated to do things, it can be from our sense of duty, ethics, and values. Our obligations can still show us how to be disciplined and follow a set routine that gets things done.

Turning your to-do list into a series of obligations might take away from the fun, but it will help you stay loyal to what you need to do. And no matter where our motivation comes from, our actions matter. Goal-setting requires us to be driven, committed, optimistic and resilient. 

We have to take the initiative when needed. Our self-motivation and sense of obligation also carry over to our professional lives. These are both important traits to demonstrate in our jobs. And they’re important to convey when we're looking for a new one. 

Next time you set your intentions and make a plan of action, don't forget your motivation. 

Find someone to help you stay accountable as you try to sustain your motivation. At BetterUp, we can help you track your progress and goal setting so that you continue to learn new skills.

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Published June 30, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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