What is Motivation?
Motivation is an energetic urge to accomplish a goal or meet a need. Motivation may be intrinsic or extrinsic.
Intrinsic motivation occurs when we want to accomplish a goal for its own sake.
Extrinsic motivation is driven by the expectation of an external reward outside the activity itself.
However, it is lack of motivation that usually causes concern. When feeling unmotivated and low in energy, procrastination can take over and become an additional problem. Procrastination can also come about from lack of interest or boredom related to completing a task. For some, procrastination is a habit formed over time until a high enough stress level is reached to establish motivation to complete the task.
Some causes of lack of motivation may include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Mental illness such as depression
- Grief or loss such as death of a loved one or marriage breakdown
- Ongoing stress
- Physical illness
- Certain medications such as anti-depressants
- Relationship problems with family or intimate partner
- Lack of support networks
- Major life transition
Maslow's Hierarchy of needs
"In his influential paper of 1943, A Theory of Human Motivation, the American psychologist Abraham Maslow proposed that healthy human beings have a certain number of needs, and that these needs are arranged in a hierarchy, with some needs (such as physiological and safety needs) being more primitive or basic than others (such as social and ego needs). Maslow's so-called "hierarchy of needs" is often presented as a five-level pyramid, with higher needs coming into focus only once lower, more basic needs are met."
Maslow called the bottom four levels of the pyramid "deficiency needs" because a person does not feel anything if they are met, but becomes anxious if they are not. Thus, physiological needs such as eating, drinking, and sleeping are deficiency needs, as are safety needs, social needs such as friendship and sexual intimacy, and ego needs such as self-esteem and recognition. In contrast, Maslow called the fifth level of the pyramid a "growth need" because it enables a person to "self-actualize" or reach his fullest potential as a human being. Once a person has met his deficiency needs, he can turn his attention to self-actualization; however, only a small minority of people are able to self-actualize because self-actualization requires uncommon qualities such as honesty, independence, awareness, objectivity, creativity, and originality."
Source and further information:
Maslow's Pyramid in order from basic to higher needs:
- Physiological: breathing, food, water, sex, sleep, homeostasis, excretion.
- Safety: security of body, employment, resources, morality, the family, health, property.
- Love/Belonging: friendship, family, sexual intimacy.
- Esteem: self esteem, confidence, achievement, respect of others, respect by others.
- Self-Actualization: morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts.
How can counselling help you if you are struggling to feel motivated?
Christine Bennett and Emily Dylan offer help through counselling and psychotherapy for people who would like to experience greater motivation. Christine finds that Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Ericksonian Hypnosis and lifestyle education can make a significant difference to your coping skills. Emily utilizes a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach and Positive Psychology techniques.