Motivation drives our decisions, actions and performance. It provides us with the energy to stick to our goals and intentions and to implement them. Our motivation is closely related to our own personal values and needs.

What contributes to high motivation?

Athlete crossing the finish line smiling

There are days when we are bursting with energy and highly motivated. On other days, we feel flat, unmotivated and sometimes frustrated. Slight fluctuations in motivation are quite normal. We find it difficult to control our motivation and can experience that external circumstances also influence it. For example, if you plan to attend a sports class in the evening, you may find yourself less motivated when another important task at work has demanded a lot of your attention. In the end, you find yourself on the sofa instead of in the gym. In order for us to stick to our plans in the long run, it is helpful to find out why and to what end we set certain goals. When we have identified what need or value underlies our motivation, we have more energy. The personal WHY provides more stability and increases self-motivation and stamina.  

An overview of different theories of motivation

There are various theories of motivation that try to explain human behaviour in relation to achieving goals. For example, motivation has an influence on our preventive health behaviour and our consumer behaviour. Companies also influence the motivation of employees by various means in order to increase their satisfaction and performance.   

1. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

The distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation describes where our motivation comes from. Does it originate within us or are we guided by external incentives? Extrinsic, i.e. external, factors could be the approval of a manager or partner, a high salary or good grades. With intrinsic motivation, one pursues one's goal even without an external incentive. The person is self-motivated because they want to learn, for example, or are inspired by the idea of helping other people. The person is driven by the activity itself because the task itself seems fulfilling or meaningful. Intrinsic motivation is more important for long-term goal achievement.

2. Maslow's pyramid of needs

This model distinguishes between growth needs and deficit needs. Growth needs are the need for increased knowledge, creativity, self-fulfilment and a sense of purpose. These needs are never fully satisfied, so they can motivate a person endlessly. Deficit needs are physical and psychological needs that, when unmet, lead to demotivation, displeasure or frustration. This occurs when, for example, physiological needs such as sleep or hunger, social needs such as attachment, recognition and love, a need for safety, or the fulfilment of personal values are not satisfied.

3. Herzberg's two-factor theory

According to this theory, there are two types of need that determine the motivation of individuals: motivators and hygiene factors. The motivators include things such as success, growth or opportunities for advancement. These strongly influence whether a person is satisfied or not. The fulfilment of motivators can, in turn, create further motivation. Then, there are the hygiene factors. If these are not realised, dissatisfaction and then demotivation will result. Examples of hygiene factors are remuneration, security or recognition. If these are fulfilled, a person's satisfaction and motivation also increase.

Recognising one's own motivation

Every person has a “Why?”
Every person has a motor for their decisions and behaviour. Those who know their personal "Why?" can define realistic goals.
Motivation through values
Our personal values influence our self-defined goals. We are more motivated to pursue projects that are in line with our own values.
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Identify external motivators
External incentives feel good but do not motivate in the long run. That is why it is important to identify whether we are intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to achieve a particular goal.

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