Right motivation features as internal forces like a desire for genuine joy, satisfaction and fulfillment, that propels one into action. The right motivation drives one to accomplish intrinsic aspirations or purpose goals like a desire for intellectual challenge, desire to help others, to improve their lives, to learn and to grow. Studies reveal that people whose behaviour are fuelled more by intrinsic desires than by extrinsic ones, achieve more than their reward-seeking counterparts (Sauerman & Cohen, 2008). Additionally, people that tend towards autonomy and intrinsic motivation have higher self-esteem, better interpersonal relationships, and greater general well-being than those who are extrinsically motivated by money, fame or beauty (Pink, 2009). Thus, the right motivation stems from intrinsic considerations and desires that pave way to mastery, enhanced productivity and happiness. Although a leaning towards extrinsic rewards proves productive in the short-term, the approach does not promote mastery because it cannot be sustained over the long-term. Long-term achievements rest on mastery. Truly successful people shun conventional notions of success based on profit goals. An internal desire to pilot their fate, master themselves and leave an enduring legacy, motivates them to work hard and persevere through challenges. People who are primarily motivated by intrinsic desires are self-directed and devoted to becoming better and better at something that matters. They hitch their drive for excellence to a higher purpose. Autonomy, mastery and purpose, characterise them. Cultivating the right motivation matters because it is the stuff of fulfilment and satisfaction, and sterling well-being. To awaken the right motivation is an idea that reaches fruition through the means stated below.

Identify with or create environments that promote a full expression of freewill and choice. Autonomy tolerating accountability and interdependence, is a basic human need. This need is met when situations allow us to express ourselves as autonomous but cooperative entities. When this happens, we become truly motivated, productive and happy. The need for autonomy, as an intrinsic motivation, is a right motivation since it propels us into activities that promote the experience of fulfilment. Deci and Ryan (2008) report that “autonomous motivation or a sense of autonomy promotes greater conceptual understanding, better grades, enhanced persistence at school and in sporting activities, higher productivity, less burnout and greater levels of psychological well-being.” Relevant studies also suggest that when bosses offer autonomy support, when they see issues from the employee’s point of view, give meaningful feedback and information, provide ample choice over what to do and how to do it and encourage employees to take on new projects, job satisfaction and productivity soars (Deci, Ryan and Baard, 2004). When people have autonomy over their task, their time, their technique and their team, they experience a measure of satisfaction and fulfillment. This satisfaction and fulfillment are components of the right motivation that leads to increased productivity. Google encourages its engineers to spend one day a week working on a side project of their choice. Google News, Gmail, Google Translate, are some of the products that sprang from this program.

Take a random inventory of the typical activities of your week and note the ones that offer you optimal experiences. Forty or more random times is preferable. Optimal experiences are the most satisfying experiences in people’s lives. Such peak experiences are found in activities where people operate so deeply in the moment, feel so utterly in control to an extent that their sense of time, place and even self become extinguished. Such activities are their own reward. In an optimal experience, people are fully engaged. Only engagement can lead to mastery. Optimal experiences enable us to savour high levels of satisfaction and fulfillment. It awakens the right motivation that propels us to get better and better at something that matters.

Hold with an expansive mindset that agrees with an incremental theory of ability. This theory endorses the idea that ability is malleable and that working harder makes it better. A psychology professor at Stanford University, Carol Dweck (1999) discovered that students who believed that brain power is fixed gave up quickly on tough problems. They pointed to their lack of intelligence for their difficulties. On a different note, students with a more expansive mindset demonstrated a higher level of persistence at solving tough problems. They employed greater inventive strategies to find a solution. Exhibiting a good measure of persistence in an activity increases one’s likelihood of experiencing an optimal experience and awakening the right motivation.


Strap your desires to a purpose larger than yourself. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi affirms, “purpose provides activation energy for living.” The strategy guru, Gary Hamel (2009) comes in: “As an emotional catalyst, wealth maximisation lacks the power to fully mobilise human energies.” Deci, Ryan and Niemec (2009) tracked students with intrinsic aspirations or purpose goals like helping others to improve their lives, to learn and to grow. They discovered that after one or two years in the real world, the purpose-driven students reported higher levels of satisfaction and subjective well-being when they felt that they were attaining their goals. The levels were significantly higher than the ones they experienced when they were in college. In contrast, students with extrinsic aspirations or profit goals like becoming wealthy or achieving fame reported levels of self-esteem, satisfaction and positive effect no higher than when they were students. This state prevailed even when they were accumulating wealth and winning acclaim. Sticking to a high purpose awakens genuine satisfaction and fulfillment within us. Hence, the pursuit of a worthy cause creates a conducive atmosphere for the right motivation.

Do a self-audit at the end of each day. Assess the personal and professional areas of your life and ascertain whether you fared better today compared to yesterday. Note the level of your engagement with your tasks and the extent of your peak or optimal experiences. Optimal experiences draw in the highest level of satisfaction and fulfillment. Also, highlight the level of your conformity to your daily targets and goals. Note the aspects of your life that require improvements. A change in routine and procedure may enhance the level of your engagement with your daily tasks. A high level of engagement makes it possible for us to experience satisfaction and fulfillment. The right motivation springs forth from these two forces.


Make an inventory of behaviours and practices that prevent you from having an optimal experience. Getting rid of unnecessary distractions is important to making progress at the pursuit of a worthy cause. It also releases more time and energy for you. Hence, you can engage more with activities that offer you optimal experiences.

Commit to a deliberate practice to improve performance in a specific domain. Deliberate practice entails engaging in purposeful, focused and often painful action. Setting new goals, changing your performance and straining yourself to surpass your last attainment, hallmark true deliberate practice. Constant repetition perks up the practice and sets one to the path of Mastery. Regular feedback helps us to assess our level of proficiency and to focus on areas that require improvements. Acknowledging our weaknesses and working on them helps us to get better. Deliberate practice assists us to improve our level of engagement with a task. Increased engagement means increased satisfaction. Genuine satisfaction is a prime motivation.

True motivation embodies genuine satisfaction and fulfillment. These internal forces propel and set us to the path of mastery.


Henry Sauerman and Wesley Cohen, “What makes them tick? Employee Motives and Firm Innovation,” NBER Working Paper No. 14443, October 2008.

Daniel H. Pink, “Drive:The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” (New York: Riverhead Books, 2009).

Deci and Ryan, “Facilitating Optimal Motivation and Psychological Well-Being Across Life’s Domains.”

Paul P. Baard, Edward L. Deci, and Richard M. Ryan, “Intrinsic Need Satisfaction: A Motivational Basis of Performance and Well-Being in Two Work Settings,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 34 (2004).

Carol S. Dweck, “Self Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development” (Philadelphia: Psychology Press, 1999)

Gary Hamel, “Moon Shots for Management,” Harvard Business Review, February 2009.

Christopher P. Niemiec, Richard M. Ryan, and Edward L. Deci, “The Path Taken: Consequences of Attaining Intrinsic and Extrinsic Aspirations,” Journal of Research in Personality 43 (2009).



  • In order to motivate ourselves, we must feel that we are in control. When people believe they are in control they are more self-assured, try harder and find it easier to overcome setbacks.

    And the fundamental behaviour that allows us to believe that we have control is to make decisions. According to the Self-Determination Theory, the freedom to choose gives us the autonomy we need. When a challenging task is presented as a decision we have made, we are much more motivated to carry it out than if it had come from an external order.

  • These are such great insights. I think the thing that has helped me most is having someone else to help me be accountable. Even if I repeat to myself, “I need to do it, I want to do it,” I may lot do something until someone else asks me, “did you do it?”

  • Motivation is too difficult to uncover from your life if you have no object where your pointing your focus. This article is an absolute eye opening that for me is a must read.

  • As someone comment above, this is great for me as well. I need to reconnect with my motivation, find the energy and I know I have to do something to recover it, it will not come if I just sit and wait.

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