How to Motivate Someone, Including Yourself

We all seem to know how to live well, yet so few of us can bring ourselves actually to do it.

Many proposed motivational strategies routinely fall short and prove themselves to be ineffective when put to the objective empirical test.

We might be able to come up with strategies and recommendations on how to motivate ourselves and others. Unfortunately, what is easy to do is rarely what works.

Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification.

Karl Popper

This article introduces an array of methods of motivating human behavior and gives examples of techniques and motivational strategies as well as skills one can develop to motivate ourselves and others more effectively.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients create actionable goals and master techniques to create lasting behavior change.

Methods of Motivation

Imagine we are asked, “How can I motivate my employees to be more creative and to work harder?” Perhaps we can rather quickly offer a seemingly commonsense satisfying reply and suggest, for example, that they offer attractive incentives.

While this seems like a viable solution, these types of answers are rarely effective, not to mention they can also sometimes create serious harm, such as damaging the very motivation the person sought to promote.

Those who study motivation long enough, often tell us they come to two conclusions: (1) not all attempts to motivate others and the self are successful, and (2) what is easy to do in practice is rarely what is most effective.

Based on the general finding that “what is easy to do is rarely what is effective” is the reason why motivation researchers have to go back to the drawing board many times over to do the tough work of designing effective interventions and motivational supports.

Among all the prospects which man can have, the most comforting is, on the basis of his present moral condition, to look forward to something permanent and to further progress toward a still better prospect.

Immanuel Kant

Many of those who need to apply motivational strategies to their work and lives also come to similar conclusions. Teachers tend to have much better success in motivating their students to read when they take the time to transform the lesson plan into activities that children find to be interesting, curiosity-provoking, and personally inspiring.

Leaders have much better success in motivating their employees’ creativity and hard work when they take the employees’ perspective and invite them to generate their own self-endorsed work goals.

Even parents are more successful at encouraging their children to engage in socially constructive behaviors when they make an effort to truly understand why their children do not want to be prosocial and take the time to explain to them the benefits of engaging in such activities.

When we replace giving directives and commands with working patiently and diligently to see the situation from the other person’s point of view, when we ask the other for input and suggestions, and when we then pull all that information together to offer some constructive goals and strategies, we often find that we tend to have better success in motivating others.

Although all of these approaches to motivate and engage others are somewhat difficult to do, they are well worth the effort of learning about how to do it well.

Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.

Henry Ford, 1863–1947

Motivation is a complex process to explain and equally complex to fully realize. The science of motivation tells us that motives are internal experiences that can be categorized into needs, cognitions, and emotions that are influenced by antecedent conditions like environmental events and social contexts.

These internal and external forces point us to how we can intervene to increase motivation. Depending on the motivational dilemma we are dealing with, we can design interventions that target either physiological or psychological needs, specific cognitive phenomena associated with motivation status, or emotional states as well as make adjustments to the environment to create an optimal context for increased motivation.


Motivational Strategies

The very purpose of studying motivation is to translate motivation theory into practical intervention programs and to design and implement successful interventions to improve people’s lives.

Often motivational dilemmas will dictate what type of intervention will be used, be it a need-based intervention, a cognition-based intervention, or an emotion-based intervention.

The motivational techniques and strategies described below give examples of how we can intervene in the status of motives originating from these different sources and only scratch the surface of the many approaches to motivation.

There are also several rather sophisticated and highly successful interventions in our articles on Motivation in Education, Motivation at Work, and Motivational Interviewing for behavioral change, as well as examples of activities and worksheets that can be found in our article on Motivation Tools.


Satisfying Psychological Needs

Various psychological needs motivate behavior. According to Self-Determination Theory, we are the very source, cause, or origin of our own freely chosen behavior (Ryan & Deci, 2008). SDT identified three basic psychological needs which we are driven to satisfy:

  • autonomy (self-determination),
  • competence (capability and effectiveness), and
  • affiliation (relatedness and belonging).

Affiliation needs occur on the spectrum of association at one end and belonging at the other. We are motivated to form long-lasting positive relationships with others, according to the belongingness hypothesis.

When we experience social exclusion, for example, it can result in unpleasant feelings, a loss of autonomy, and numbness and may feel strongly motivated to re-establish social connections. The need for belonging is satisfied by establishing relationships with other people.

Daniel Pink, in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, explains why in today’s world extrinsic rewards do not work because most of us don’t perform rule-based routine tasks (2009). He argues, rather convincingly, that we need to create environments where intrinsic motivation thrives, where we can be creative and gain satisfaction from the activities themselves.

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.


If autonomy is our default setting, giving us a choice in terms of tasks, time, team, and technique is one way to increase it. When coupled with opportunities for growth and mastery, our intrinsic motivation increases through engagement.

Pink tells us that mastery is a mindset, that it demands effort, and that it is like an asymptote where we get close to it but never fully realize it. He also reminds us of the importance of striving toward something greater than ourselves. Purpose, according to Pink, is not ornamental, but a vital source of aspiration and direction (2009).

See our article on Motivation Tools to take a Basic Psychological Needs assessment.

Other recognized psychological needs include:

  • the need for closure
  • the need for cognition
  • the need for meaning
  • the need for power
  • the need for self-esteem
  • the need for achievement

The need for closure motivates us to avoid ambiguities and to arrive at a firm conclusion. This can have implications for our relationships and ability to function effectively as we find ourselves having to consistently respond to increasing complexity in our environment and changes to our circumstances. To satisfy the need for closure, we can provide clear expectations and well-defined, measurable goals, frequent feedback, and timelines.

The need for cognition refers to a desire to understand one’s experiences and things in our environment through thinking. When we find ourselves forced to think on our feet, make snap judgments, or use intuition and are not efforted the chance to reflect on our experience, we may experience tension and stress. Providing information and compelling rationale for why tasks need to be performed can help satisfy the need for greater understanding.

The need for meaning motivates us to understand how we relate to our environment, geographical, cultural, and social. This becomes particularly important following catastrophic events or personal tragedies. According to the meaning-making model, after traumatic events, we are strongly motivated to restore meaning.

This can be done through the method known as counterfactual thinking when we consider alternatives that contrast sharply with our current situation. In other words, what might a person’s life have been like if some other (counterfactual) event had or hadn’t occurred?

The need for power motives us to want to be noticed, to wish to influence the lives of others, to be in command, and to have high status. Occupations that allow for the legitimate exercise of power can provide opportunities for visibility, recognition, and success for those with a power motive. Satisfying the need for control can also involve being in charge of an organization.

The need for self-esteem refers to the evaluative feeling a person has about the self. William James believed that self-esteem depends on how many possible selves, he called pretensions, we have achieved or become.

A contemporary view of self-esteem defines it in terms of a contingency of self-worth as it occurs in various domains, such as academic competence. Successes and failures in a specific domain boost or lower self-esteem respectively, and provides us with a degree of contingent self-worth in that domain.

We can increase our level of self-esteem by either reducing the number of possible selves or by increasing the number of successes. Respectively our self-esteem is lowered when we decrease the number of successes or increase the number of pretensions.

The need for achievement is guided by two internal sources: the motive to achieve success and the motive to avoid failure. When we want to do things well, being persistent, and having a high standard of excellence, we are said to need achievement.

The motive to avoid failure is characterized by fear and anxiety about failing at a task. The probability of success and failure and the incentive value of success and failure are other determinants of achievement behavior included in the achievement motivation theory (see our articles on Theories of Motivation). The need for achievement can be satisfied by accomplishing challenging tasks.


Intervening into Cognitions

One of the most important cognitive phenomena in the context of motivation is our self-concept; how we define it; how we relate the self to society; ways in which we use its agency to develop personal potential; and finally, how we regulate the self to enable goal pursuit (Reeve, 2018).

The self-concept is an example of a cognitive mechanism that plays a role in motivation.

Here cognition is treated as a motivational force where the basic idea is that if you change the contents of your thinking, then you change your motivational state. The same applies to other cognitive phenomena like plans, goals, mindset, intentions, attributions, values, mastery beliefs, self-efficacy, dissonance, perceived control, expectancy, self-concept, identity, self-regulation, possible selves, and self-control, to name a few.

We do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are.

Anais Nin

The self-concept is learned and comes from how we mentally represent our characteristics in specific domains like academic achievement or interpersonal relationships.

These self-schemas generate two types of motivation: toward the consistent self and the possible self. We are motivated to direct our behavior in ways that confirm our self-view and to avoid those that contradict.

We also observe others and consider a future possible self that we may want to become. These possible selves become long-term goals that energize, direct, and sustain the motivation to develop who we are today toward the hoped-for ideal self (Reeve, 2018).

See our blog post on Motivation Tools for examples of the ideal and future-self activities.

Identity is the self within a cultural context and how the self relates to society. We assume social roles like a mother or a teacher, and we act to establish, confirm, and restore the cultural meaning of that role-identity. We also create connections to social groups with shared affiliations, interests, and values, which further contribute to our identity formation.

Self-concept also has an intrinsic motivation, or agency, of its own. When our self exercises its inherent interests, preferences, and capacities to grow, it expands the self into an ever-increasing complexity. Pursuing life goals that emanate from personal agency generates an enhanced effort and greater psychological well-being.


Emotions as Feedback

Changes in emotion, behavior, and well-being can be used as feedback in the effort to motivate others in productive ways. Interventions that alter emotional states toward the positive, produce valued behavior, or bring on a sense of well-being can use these changes to form a positive feedback loop and therefore increase out motivation toward goal pursuit.

Praise, for example, can evoke positive emotions, while modeled mastery programs can increase a sense of competence through gradual progression on task. Several subjective experiences of wellbeing from gratitude exercise to cultivation of awe can be used as change inducing and a form of positive feedback. They produce gradual changes in emotion and wellbeing as well as a progressive change in behavior through discipline.

Attentional focus regulation strategy is another way to intervene in our emotional responses to increase motivation. It allows us to reappraise how we see a situation and choose to reframe, as in looking for a silver lining.

These types of emotional regulation can be useful in contrast to suppression of emotion, which occurs when all the above opportunities for establishing control have been missed, and a person is simply left with trying to down-regulate an adverse emotional event (Reeve, 2018).

See our blog post on Motivation Tools for examples of how to intervene in emotional states and amplify the power of positive feelings.


Learning Self-control

The metacognitive monitoring of one’s goal-setting progress is a self-regulatory process that increases our capacity to carry out long-term goals on our own.

Self-control is a big part of the process of self-regulation and is of crucial importance in sustained motivation. This capacity to suppress, restrain, and override an impulsive, short-term desire or temptation to pursue a long-term goal instead is quickly depleted when we struggle to override immediate urges.

Take the Procrastination scale on our Motivation Tools post to asses your ability to resist temptations and distractions.

Have you ever heard the saying, “no glucose, no willpower?” The biological basis of self-control, according to the limited strength model of self-control, is the brain fuel of glucose. The exercise of self-control depletes glucose and the capacity for future self-control but can be replenished by:

  • nutrition and caloric intake,
  • training,
  • episodes of positive affect,
  • psychological need satisfaction (Reeve, 2018).

Longitudinal research, also known as the marshmallow tests, shows rather impressively that the childhood capacity for high self-control versus display of minimal capacity for self-control predicts successful life outcomes (Mischel, & Ebbesen, 1970).


Motivation and Stress

Stress can have a significant impact on our motivational states. Effective coping with stressors involves planning, execution, and feedback. During the planning component, we appraise life change events. First, we analyze if the event is positive, negative, or irrelevant to our well-being.

Then if the event is appraised as negative, we inventory the resources that can be used to manage the event. During the execution component, we determine how to cope with either the original stressor or the stress itself.

Clarifying and trying to solve the stressor is a form of problem-focused coping while alleviating the accompanying distress is an emotion-focused coping strategy. Emotion regulation is a type of coping that helps us control emotions and how intensely we experience them.

For both appraisal and coping, being flexible helps. Stressor intensity and controllability impact coping strategies. Reappraisal is a better strategy when the stressor is of low intensity, but when stress is very high, distraction is more effective. When stressors are evaluated as controllable, problem-focused coping is best, but when they feel uncontrollable, emotion-focused coping is better.

Finally, during the feedback component, we experience different levels of sensitivity to feedback about the effectiveness of coping processes. If necessary, this feedback can be used to reappraise the stressor and accompanying stress and to alter coping and emotion regulation strategies. The American Institute of Stress has a lot of helpful information about stressors, anxiety, and coping.


Motivation Techniques

motivated athleteWhen considering motivational techniques, it helps to understand that in practice, motivational states can be supported, neglected, or thwarted.

For that reason, most successful interventions do not try to change another person’s motivation or emotion directly.

Instead, effective interventions will more often make changes to the person’s environmental conditions and the quality of his or her relationships. The goal of motivational techniques is to find, create, or offer motivationally and emotionally supportive conditions and relationships and to leave behind neglectful or abusive ones.

We must also carefully evaluate through evidence-based approaches what the known antecedent conditions are to the motivational or emotional state that we are trying to promote.


Optimal Match of Skills and Challenges

Intrinsic motivation and autonomous initiative are created by activities with a specific set of properties: they are challenging, require skill, have clear and immediate feedback.

The key to success here is setting challenges that are neither too demanding nor too simple for one’s abilities as life can sometimes be “a constant balancing act between anxiety where the difficulty is too high for the person’s skill, and boredom where the difficulty is too low” (Csíkszentmihályi, 1997, p.476).

Professor Csíkszentmihályi, who developed the theory of flow to define these activities, talks about specific conditions that allow for the onset of flow and named the factors related to flow experiences into the following dimensions:

  • presence of clear goals;
  • immediate feedback;
  • high challenges need to be matched with adequate personal skills; most often achieved in complex activities requiring specific capabilities; flow proved to be associated with the above-average challenge/above-average skill condition;
  • the task has to be challenging enough to require the mobilization of personal skills, promoting concentration and engagement to enable merging of action and awareness; repetitive and low-information activities are very rarely associated with flow;
  • focus on the task at hand, and focused attention is a must;
  • perceived control of the situation; and
  • loss of self-consciousness (Csíkszentmihályi, 1990).



Giving feedback can be a beneficial form of motivation, and, if done well, can leave people feeling motivated and positive. Here is a list of aspects to focus on some great pointers on how to do feedback well according to Robert Biswas-Diener:

  • The power of expectations. The person receiving the feedback owns their emotional reactions to the expectation of the feedback as well as the very process of receiving feedback. Establish at the outset what the feedback is intended to accomplish, what form it will take, and clarify if further work will be expected.

  • The power of accuracy and specificity. Be specific and pay particular attention to the part of the feedback that might be superfluous. Also, be careful to provide feedback on performance, not the person or the person’s character.

  • Feedback is directed at the future, not the present. The focus of the feedback should be the vision of the terrific future work and evolved around discussing the ways to get there; however, many iterations it will require.

  • Believing in the project. Your feedback should speak to your personal investment and express your belief that the work can be great and has the potential for success. Worthwhile feedback requires effort and is a very important part of investing in the improvement process.

  • The power of relationship. Harness what you know about the person to give better feedback and to keep them accountable because feedback is a form of connection, and you would tailor your approach differently depending on who you talk to.



Nir Eyal, who wrote the book Indistractable defines motivation as the urge to escape psychological discomfort and to free ourselves from the pain of wanting, where distractions are forms of unhealthy or unproductive ways of escape.

He challenges us to become aware of what it is we need to distract ourselves from so we can consciously define what it is that we want to seek traction towards. Dissatisfaction can motivate us and drive us to act. If we are not happy, the pain lets us know that something needs to be done about it, and this represents a perfectly healthy evolutionary response.

While we tend to blame lack of motivation on external triggers, more often than not, it is merely a response to internal pain that pushes us to feel restless and makes us more prone to give in to the urges.

He suggests we look for the emotion that proceeds us engaging in the habit, get curious about it, and instead of trying to escape, it brings even more attention to the craving. Some call it surfing the urge. When you put these negative thoughts and emotions on stage, they tend to dissipate.

The ironic process theory tells us that suppressing thoughts has a rebound effect causing the unwanted cognitions to persist as our mind continues to monitor for them (Wegner, 1994).

The antidote to this tendency is to invite these thoughts on the stage actively, and lessons from the acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) show that this works because we create distance between the thought and ourselves and therefore lessen its impact by seeing them for what they are.

This allows us to re-imagine the trigger so we can become aware of it next time it surfaces and track it, especially during the liminal moments when we transition from one activity to another.


Goal Setting and Implementation Intentions

The realization of goals can be effectively facilitated by forming an implementation intention that spells out the when, where, and how we are going to achieve it. It is accomplished by deciding in advance of goal striving how we are going to overcome a roadblock. “If situation Y is encountered, then I will initiate goal‐directed behavior X!” (Gollwitzer).

Studies show that implementation intentions had a positive effect on goal attainment, were effective in promoting the initiation of goal striving, the shielding of ongoing goal pursuit from unwanted influences, disengagement from failing courses of action, and conservation of capability for future goal striving.

If your goal is to eat less sugar, your implementation intention could become something “When the dessert menu arrives, I will order coffee.” If your goal is to work out more, your implementation intention could turn into “I will work out for an hour at the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays before work.

Access the “If-then” planning worksheet on our post on Motivation Tools.



Dr. Daniel Sigel, whose research combines brain sciences with practical approaches to our understanding of human behavior and mechanisms of change, stresses the importance of our understanding of the self through learning about the functioning of our brain as well as developing mindful ability to observe our own inner states that help us develop empathy toward others and navigate our social world.

If motivation is about change, what brings it about? According to Dr. Siegel, change is possible because most human beings are striving towards integration, where we connect the functioning of our inner systems towards the state of inner harmony.

The most ambitious claim of the mindsight theoretical construct is that we can alter our physical brain by focusing our attention in a way that integrates a different aspect of our psychological and neurological functioning and practically rewires synaptic connection towards better mental health.

Dr. Siegel’s model of wellbeing comprises of the process that integrates the mind, the brain, and our relationships. He identifies eighth areas of integration as ways of entry through which creating an inner state of harmony can be promoted, and motivation increased:

  • Integration of consciousness allows for greater awareness and clarity in perceiving our mind
  • Bilateral integration occurs when we reconcile left and right brain functions connecting our thinking and emotional brain
  • Vertical integration allows for greater bodily awareness and is a form of creating a mind-body connection
  • Memory integration concerns itself with the process of memory creation and how it affects our wellbeing
  • Narrative integration is about how we find meaning and explain our experiences
  • State integration concerns itself with mental state integration like the need for being alone versus the need to be social
  • Interpersonal integration is about how we relate to others
  • Temporal integration has to do with our sense of time and is related to existential psychology and our thoughts about permanence and need for certainty
  • Finally, transpirational integration is about the expended sense of self, and Dr. Siegel hopes that cultivating it has the potential of transforming the world we live in (“What is Mindsight? An Interview with Dr. Dan Siegel.,” n.d.).

The construct of mindsight combines tools of mindful self-awareness with insights into our nature that are driven by a scientifically informed understanding of brain functions.

This understanding of the self, according to Siegel, not only allows us to self-regulate and direct our lives but also helps us understand others better and can aid us in developing empathy crucial for thriving in relationships.

His definition of empathy as having a map of others is a potent metaphor, in the same way in which his interpretation of psychological flexibility paints a picture of a river between rigidity and emotional dysregulation (“What is Mindsight? An Interview with Dr. Dan Siegel.,” n.d.).


Techniques for Sustaining Motivation

It isn’t enough to find motivation. Research shows that to bring about lasting change, what we need are reminders, repetition, and rituals.

– Reminders

To focus our attention on a particular commitment we made, it helps to have reminders. These external cues in our environment can be straightforward and simple, and others may be more complicated and creative. Here are a few suggestions:

  • enter your gym times in your planner, just as you would do for a client meeting
  • put a picture on the wall or on your screensaver of the person who motivates you most to get out of bed and into your running shoes
  • trip over your reminders literally: leave your running shoes by your bed
  • set your alarm clock to play a song or an affirmation that you find particularly motivating

– Repetition

Regular reminders can pave the way for repetition action, which is essential for lasting change. Exercising only for the first week or two of the year, no matter how hard, in all likelihood, falls far short of your hopes and aspirations for the new year. Moreover, it is through reminders coupled with repetition, that you get to the promised land of change: the cultivation of rituals.

Use technology to bombard your nonconscious brain with the declarations of the world you want to create. Technology has given us all sorts of excellent tools we can use.

  • Set up recurring appointments or notifications and schedule the thing you’re changing. If it’s gym time, food prep time, bedtime – schedule it – and have everything in place so that it’s more likely to happen. These are environmental supports that make it easier for the subconscious to follow the change in behavior.
  • Track your progress on a chart displayed someplace visible or through an app that requires you to log in your achievements; feedback reinforces motivation.
  • Make if/then plans for when obstacles get in the way.
  • Audio: play your affirmations while you are jogging or working out, cleaning house—anytime you would ordinarily listen to music.
  • Subliminal Audio and Video: You can play subliminal audio and video recordings to yourself throughout the day.
  • Subliminal Software: There is software available that will play your affirmations to you by flashing them almost invisibly on your computer screen.

– Rituals

We form rituals after a sufficient number of reminders and repetition because our brain creates new neural pathways associated with a particular behavior. It becomes easier after a month or two to act in a certain way at a specific time.

Words of caution as you create a reminder, repeat, and ritualize:

  • Less is more. Neural overload is likely to lead you to do nothing. Modest hopes and aspirations lead to small wins and gradual change.
  • Fail and fail again and remember that success on the fifth or sixth attempt is much more likely.
  • Public commitments are a strong force. Say or record your intended actions to yourself or a trusted friend or practitioner. Or better yet, find someone who can keep you accountable.
  • Affirmations are another way of verbally stating what your desired state is. It sends a powerful message to the brain, which helps to reinforce the desired changes. Affirmations should be repeated in the present tense.
  • Journaling your intentions, feelings, impressions also creates powerful neural connections and can further support your perseverance.

When we create useful reminders and repeat them often enough to create rituals, we increase the chance of creating a new habit in the hope of having them replacing the less desirable behaviors.


Motivational Skills

To be able to motivate is both an art and a science, and requires a considerable amount of practice. Whether you’re a coach, a manager, a parent, or a teacher, you come to realize that not all of these skills come to you naturally but can be improved upon with practice.

The rapidly growing field of personal and professional coaching has much to offer in the arena of motivational tools and interventions. Tim Gallwey defined the essence of coaching as “unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance.”

Anthony Grant described it as “a collaborative solution-focused, results-oriented and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of life experience and goal attainment.” The focus of coaching is to aid the client in taking action toward the realization of their goals, desires, and vision. For that, we need motivation.

Below is a brief description of some of the techniques and skills usually taught in an ICF certified coaching programs which can be used to enhance the motivation of a coaching client toward goal pursuit.

  • Acknowledging what our clients are saying is one of the most powerful ways to show that you’re really listening and that you care about what your clients are saying. It can be accomplished through mirroring back or paraphrasing.

  • Clarifying and summarizing can further deepen the mutual understanding and help build the rapport necessary to support the motivation for change.

  • Validating a client’s feelings is crucial for creating a safe space where they don’t feel judged.

  • Breaking resistance and asking the client how he or she managed to overcome similar situations in the past is similar to methods of appreciative inquiry.

  • Button pushing is about helping the client find another way to look at the situation and is similar to the concept of cognitive reframing.

  • Celebrating client’s wins and championing efforts is crucial in increasing positive emotions and is similar to active constructive responding.

  • Coaching limiting beliefs is about asking how true is that belief and how has believing it affected the client.

  • Coaching interpretations is about considering what might be the complete opposite of how they view their current situation.

  • Coaching assumptions is about asking why, if this happened in the past, why must it happen again.

  • Coaching gremlins is about identifying that aspect of the self that thinks the client is less than who they really are.

  • Evaluating is about exploring options and asking the client how will they know when they are successful.

  • Forwarding is about asking when you get there what will you do.

  • Observation is about noticing something positive about the client even if it’s complimenting them on their honesty,
    making choices – what are your options, what else, etc.

  • Metaphors are powerful awareness tools that ascribe meaning to the situation and can inspire.

  • Planting the seed is a way of expressing that we have faith in our client’s abilities.

  • Stretching is about asking the client what would it look like to go one step further.

  • Reflection is about checking in with the client and how they feel about what was just discussed.

  • Moving from head to heart is about asking the client to describe emotions that show up during the session.

  • Visioning is utilizing visualization techniques like the Ideal Future self.

  • Exploring values is about exploring what our clients deem as most important in their lives.

  • Translating needs is another method for helping clients as our needs translate into motives which cause us to act and these actions have emotional consequences

See our article on Motivation Tools for more examples of powerful motivational questions.


A Take-Home Message

By now, you should have realized that true, effective motivation is tied to the outcomes that people care about.

Motivational interventions produce better results when they focus on supporting people’s motivation and emotion rather than trying to increase some specific outcomes, such as performance, productivity, achievement, or well-being.

What are your favorite motivational strategies and techniques? Share your suggestions below.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free.

If you’d like to help others succeed in life, our Motivation & Goal Achievement Masterclass© is a comprehensive training template for practitioners that contains everything you need to help your clients reach their goals and master motivation-enhancing techniques.

  • “What is Mindsight? An Interview with Dr. Dan Siegel.,” n.d.
  • Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. Basic Books.
  • Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Self-determination theory: A macrotheory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian psychology/Psychologie canadienne49(3), 182.
  • Mischel, W., & Ebbesen, E. B. (1970). Attention in delay of gratification. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology16(2), 329.
  • Ntoumanis, N., Quested, E., Reeve, J., & Cheon, S. H. (2018). Need supportive communication: Implications for motivation in sport, exercise, and physical activity. Persuasion and communication in sport, exercise, and physical activity, 155-169.
  • Pink, D. H. (2011). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. Penguin.

About the Author

Beata Souders is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Psychology at CalSouth and MA in Creative Writing at SNHU, she holds a Master's degree in Positive Psychology from Life University. An ICF certified coach and a Gottman Institute Certified Educator, Beata is on the Executive Committee for the Student Division of the International Positive Psychology Associations and has published and presented on subjects ranging the Flow Theory to learned helplessness.


  1. Samyak sharma

    Nice write up… It was really helpful

  2. James Salinas

    Thank you here for this information I was encouraged when I read it.

  3. R Hahn

    The word Motivation has become meaningless. Does it mean to start doing something, stop doing something, do something better, do something longer, do something better than someone else, etc?

    The motivation to eat when hungry or drink when thirsty are obvious, but what is it that makes someone decide to run a marathon or to read a book a week? Does it register the same in the brain? Are the same hormones involved?

    I’ve been trying to write a fairly simple paper on motivation, but the more I research it, the more I see that no one really understands what it is. There are lots of theories, plenty of brain scans, but where is the scientific definition of motivation? My guess is there are many types of motivation, not just one.

    In the Pleasure Trap, Doug Lisle talks about all living things being driven by 3 factors: Seek Pleasure, Avoid Pain, and Conserve Energy. I would think any definition of Motivation must address these 3 factors as well.

  4. Pearl Agarwal

    “Thanks for sharing this information about Motivating.
    Really a nice source of information about Motivation Writing.
    I actually added your blog to my favorites list and look forward to getting the same quality content every time I visit your blog.
    Thank you”

  5. sharon

    What a well written piece. That quote by Henry Ford is one of my favorite mantras.

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Sharon,
      Glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, that quote really highlights the importance of self-belief for achieving our goals — I like it, too.
      – Nicole | Community Manager



  7. Carlos Costa Pinto

    A very useful article!
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. ame

    thank you please keep sharing

  9. Tamsen Matheson

    Thank you for this resource – for my clients and me!

  10. M.S.Shekar

    Very useful and informative article. Please keep sharing. Thank you very much.

  11. onisimo raboiliku

    I really love these stuff you are doing, it’s very ecouraging to note that your techniques work quite well with some of my clients.


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