Self-Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Sources

Self-motivation is an essential attribute for an individual to possess because it propels one to succeed. When a person is motivated, it becomes easier for him to work harder and exploit his full potential, which subsequently helps to achieve the set goals. Motivation can take two forms, being intrinsic or extrinsic; although both have a varying degree of success, the former is more lasting than the latter. Waitley (2010) defines motivation as an inner force which moves people to action, gives them direction, persistence, and energy, and directs behavior even in the face of setbacks, discouragement, and mistakes. Therefore, for one to become successful, they must be self-motivated.

First, it is vital for people to actively look for the ways to motivate themselves instead of waiting to be jump-started. With self-motivation, individuals can do whatever they want because they have an internal drive. According to Waitley (2010), high achievers are always self-motivated, even when the road to their success has many obstacles. At times, people lose hope when they are about to achieve their goals because they lack self-motivation, although a little more self-confidence could help them hit their target.

Importantly, there are positive and negative motivations, which drive a person towards a situation or away from it, respectively. Waitley (2010) defines positive motivation as the drive to take the difficult but necessary actions to achieve a goal. For example, a positively motivated student works harder to obtain better results by improving the research and writing skills required to complete a term paper, which boosts self-esteem and causes a feeling of optimism. On the other hand, Waitley (2010) defines negative motivation as the drive which individuals have towards taking some actions to avoid adverse consequences. For example, a negatively motivated student works hard to avoid disappointing the teacher and parents or attaining low grades. Therefore, positive motivation is the desire to succeed, while negative motivation is the fear of failure or an unwanted outcome, but both of them lead to the anticipated goal.

Moreover, there are two sources of motivation received from inside and outside, resulting in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, respectively. The former is a true motivation which fuels people’s passions and interests and drives them to do what they enjoy, thereby allowing them to grow personally. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is a “quick fix” which forces a person to take actions as a route to achieving his end goal rather than receiving some external rewards (Waitley, 2010). However, these incentives can fail if they do not reinforce intrinsic motivation. Otherwise, it becomes self-defeating to depend on external motivating factors because a person can easily confuse the goal with the reward. Therefore, motivation can come from inside of a person or be influenced by external factors.

However, achieving intrinsic goals, such as self-determination and relationships is more satisfying than attaining the extrinsic ones, for example, wealth and fame. Waitley (2010) argues that needs and motivation are interconnected since the former motivates conscious and unconscious behaviors. For instance, people work to build relationships because they need love and acceptance from others. Individuals’ demands motivate their behavior, depending on their position on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Waitley, 2010). According to Waitley (2010), some people fear failure, which makes them afraid of taking risks. Therefore, needs and motivation are closely related, which explains the dependence of a person’s attitude on their current requirements.

In conclusion, an individual pursuing success must be self-motivated to achieve the desired results. Motivation can be intrinsic or extrinsic, but the former is more effective as it drives people to accomplish the tasks they enjoy or feel good about, making them grow personally. Conversely, external factors drive extrinsic motivation, making it less effective because it disappears when the rewards are withdrawn. Lastly, since there is a close connection between needs and motivation, and an individual should first satisfy his demands.


Waitley, D. (2010). Psychology of success: Finding meaning in work and life (5th ed.). McGraw Hill Higher Education.

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PsychologyWriting. (2023, September 9). Self-Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Sources. Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2023, September 9). Self-Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Sources.

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"Self-Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Sources." PsychologyWriting, 9 Sept. 2023,


PsychologyWriting. (2023) 'Self-Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Sources'. 9 September.


PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Self-Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Sources." September 9, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Self-Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Sources." September 9, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Self-Motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Sources." September 9, 2023.