What Is Motivation?

What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.

- Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

Podcast of the Day

What motivates you – is it just about getting paid or are there other factors at work?

Psychologist Dan Ariely discusses a series of fascinating experiments he's conducted that help explain how, why and what motivates us in the workplace and what destroys it.

Listen to the Best Practice episode on The Psychology of Motivation

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

THERE are two kinds of motive for engaging in any activity: internal and instrumental. If a scientist conducts research because she wants to discover important facts about the world, that’s an internal motive, since discovering facts is inherently related to the activity of research. If she conducts research because she wants to achieve scholarly renown, that’s an instrumental motive, since the relation between fame and research is not so inherent. Often, people have both internal and instrumental motives for doing what they do.

What mix of motives — internal or instrumental or both — is most conducive to success? You might suppose that a scientist motivated by a desire to discover facts and by a desire to achieve renown will do better work than a scientist motivated by just one of those desires...

Continue reading Wrzesniewski & Schwartz's article: The Secret of Effective Motivation

Further Reading

In psychology, motivation refers to the initiation, direction, intensity, and persistence of behavior. Motivation is a temporal and dynamic state that should not be confused with personality or emotion. It involves having the desire and willingness to do something. A motivated person can be reaching for a long-term goal such as becoming a professional writer or a more short-term goal like learning how to spell a particular word. Personality invariably refers to more or less permanent characteristics of an individual's state of being (such as shy, extrovert, conscientious). As opposed to motivation, emotion refers to temporal states that do not immediately link to behavior (such as anger, grief, or happiness).

Motivation can be categorized according to whether it is a basic, instinctive drive, unlearned and common to all people and also animals, or a learned motivation that can be unique. The former type of motivation involves satisfying the needs of the physical body, and include hunger, thirst, shelter or safety, sexual activity, and so forth. The latter type includes achievement of goals, whether they be in terms of gaining knowledge, power, self-development, or a loving relationship. This latter type can be seen as satisfying the desires of the mind and spirit. Motivation is complex since human nature is complex. Yet, to understand what motivates people to act in certain ways enables people to live and work peaceably with one another...

Continue reading the New World Encyclopedia article on Motivation

Bonus Webcomic

Motivation - SMBC

Related Topics

If you’re interested in motivation, check out some of the following related topics for more resources:

 Procrastination | Productivity | Psychology | Self-control | Success

Become a lifelong learner. Sign up via email to get the best videos, articles and podcasts on a new topic each day. Or you can follow on Twitter or Facebook.

Leave a Reply