The Source of Your Motivation

Motivation is a tricky thing. Some believe that motivation is like a fire that needs to be consistently fed fuel or the fire will die out. Others view motivation as nothing more than a state of mind that is a result of an external event. Still others feel that motivation always a temporary emotion and that no one should rely on being motivated to accomplish desired tasks, since motivation is so fickle and fleeting.

And there are others who seem to have an endless supply of motivation. Often times, these individuals reveal no external signs of what many would recognize in a motivated person, yet they accomplish desired outcomes and goals time after time.

Are these people gifted or have they found a secret source of motivational energy that they need only tap into to keep their "fires" burning? The answer is much closer than you think.

Internal and External Motivation

Those who feel that motivation is like a fire, a mindset dependent on external events or a temporary emotion are "externally motivated." This means that they draw motivation from outside of themselves. They rely on others to "pump them up," or look to inspirational speakers/books/events to charge their motivational fire.

Those who are "internally motivated" are not dependent on anything outside of themselves for a source of motivation. External events may change their approach but have no effect on their motivational levels. They set their minds on their vision and draw from internal resources to provide a life-long supply of fuel to keep their motivational flames burning. While their flames may not always be raging infernos, they are always burning and can be increased by a simple decision.

Why the Difference Matters

Think back to the last time you set a goal. At first, your motivational levels were probably quite high. As you started taking actions intended to make your goal your reality, your motivational levels probably began to wane. Perhaps you experienced some resistance or someone you respected suggested that you focus your energy on a "more worthwhile endeavor." As time passed, you began to justify why your once important goal really wasn't in your best interest and you rationalized your justification with what others told you or how people or events responded to your efforts.

If this sounds at all familiar, the reason you lost your motivation (and, therefore your chance to reach your goal) is that you were looking for your motivation outside of yourself. When you are externally motivated, you can be further motivated or lose your drive entirely by what others say to you or by how you "perceive" how others will respond. When your perception or experience is not what you expected, your motivation leaves you wondering why you ever set the goal in the first place.

If, instead, you were internally motivated, external events would be seen not as mandatory course corrections but as feedback. This feedback would be weighed for its validity and then either discarded or used to further define your intended outcome. When you experienced setbacks, you will draw from your internal motivation to push through the setback: knowing that you have 100% of the responsibility for determining in your goal is realized or forgotten.

The Key to Success

I have a unique gift of having access to some very successful people. I also made the decision several years ago to study the science of achievement and am constantly seeking distinctions to both improve my life and the lives of my clients. Recently, I asked a very successful entrepreneur a simple question: "What is the most important and determining factor that decides whether or not someone will be highly successful?" Though I tried to clear my mind while waiting for him to answer, I found myself assuming that he would answer "strong work ethic" or "having a clear vision." Instead he answered that the most important trait of highly successful people and the factor that made him the success that he is, was "being internally motivated."

Internally motivated people draw from their vision an endless supply of motivation. This motivation carries them through challenges, times of doubt and through events that would make most people fold up their tents and go home. Internal motivation is not affected by the opinions of others but only by the authentic dreams, intentions, goals and desired outcomes of those pursing great success.

Where does your motivation come from?

Thomas Phelps
Thomas Phelps> all articles
Thomas Phelps is a professional life coach, focusing on small business owners, sales professionals and entrepreneurs. As a small business owner, Phelps works with clients around the world, providing both coaching and professional writing services.

Phelps is the creator of the "Essential Needs Sales Model" and has crafted a unique and highly effective sales coaching practice that helps turn struggling professionals into top achievers.

As a professional writer, Phelps has written countless articles on sales, management, personal development, business ownership and the pursuit of success. He is the Guide for Sales Careers on, sales expert and featured author for the National Association of Sales Professionals ( and works with businesses of all sizes in crafting compelling content that delivers results.

He is the author of two fiction novels and has ghost written two books for well known leaders in the personal development industry.

  • /data/userPictures/472697A6-51FC-4D18-B770-FAE41BF02EBD.jpgMax Stevenson2/23/2016 10:30:47 AM
    I believe their are some very strong points in this article. I have always found that when motivation comes from within, the reward on completion is so much higher than doing something because maybe someone else needs it done. I strongly agree that internal motivation is the key to high achieving success.

  • /data/userPictures/FDDA2016-4908-48B3-BC6E-DF0A9714913F.jpgAlfonso Hernandez, Jr.3/15/2017 11:30:15 PM
    A good article for anyone considering sales or are in a sales "funk." Believe in yourself and your goals. You can do it!

  • /data/userPictures/0120700E-31D4-4BE0-AA3E-9AC78BC131DB.jpgWilliam Carter10/18/2018 2:51:40 PM
    I know I have seen sales people who get their motivation externally from someone like their sales manager. I know we have to do what the boss tells us, but truthfully it has to be your goal. If it is you will be more internally focused. Thanks for the informative article.

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPicture.jpgKayla Werts1/27/2019 12:46:32 AM
    I agree, if motivations are solely extrinsic, then one will never be satisfied. They will always look for the next promotion or the next acknowledgement, even though sometimes those things won't be there.

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgCorey Jaeger4/9/2019 11:16:37 AM
    Great article, thanks for sharing.
    Agreed, must have that internal fire burning