How Important is Self-Motivation?

When it comes to sport, there are many things that might motivate you. But one of them is self-motivation, and it can have a significant impact on your performance.
How Important is Self-Motivation?

Last update: 26 January, 2021

Many athletes know what self-motivation is, but very few recognize how important and powerful it can be. Self-motivation is about being able to drive yourself towards your goal without needing external factors to push you forward. This is separate from other types of motivation, where someone needs encouragement or enticement to act.

Self-motivation is incredibly important in sports since the only way to overcome obstacles and achieve long-term objectives is to be able to keep motivated at all times. If you depend solely on external motivators, you’re very unlikely to succeed. In this article, we’ll look at what self-motivation is and how you can keep yourself motivated on your own.

What is self-motivation?

As the name suggests, self-motivation means that you keep yourself motivated without the need for external help. This is closely linked to intrinsic motivation, which is where you perform a task or activity for the sheer pleasure of doing it rather than to receive awards or accolades.

For example, if someone is training long and hard to become a world champion, it’ll be difficult to achieve if they don’t have a high level of self-motivation.

Or maybe an athlete might be trying to overcome an injury. This can be a long and frustrating process, and it’ll be important to focus on the long-term goal. Without self-motivation, this is going to be hard.

How can I boost my levels of self-motivation?

So, now you know what self-motivation is and why it’s important. But how can you increase your levels of self-motivation? Below are some important tips for keeping yourself highly motivated over the long term.

1. Boost your self-confidence

Woman wearing medals pointing at herself.

One of the key things you need if you’re going to keep motivated is the belief that you can achieve your goals. This is more commonly known as self-confidence or self-efficacy.

Working on your self-confidence will help you to persist for longer in any task. If you firmly believe that you can succeed, you’ll be able to push on for longer and you’ll be less likely to become demotivated when things don’t go your way.

2. Set yourself realistic targets

Self-motivation doesn’t just appear. You have to work on it yourself. One way of doing this is to set yourself realistic targets.

Short-term targets can have a powerful impact on your levels of motivation. Not only will they help you to track your progress but they’ll also serve as a boost when you increase your workload or set your sights on a tougher objective.

This way of understanding motivation doesn’t just apply to sport. In a guide published by the Revista de Psicología del Deporte (Journal of Sports Psychology) the authors claim that proper management of your objectives can help you in other areas, such as academia, work, or even your personal life.

3. Look to elite athletes for inspiration

If there’s something that all professional athletes share, it’s tenacity and perseverance. Although you might not have the same objectives or be able to train as much as a professional, you can still learn a lot from their mentality.

There are many examples of professional athletes beating the odds, and these stories can be a powerful source of inspiration. It doesn’t matter if you’re nowhere near their level. The point is that they can be an example to follow when facing negative situations and obstacles.

A man celebrating a sporting achievement owed to his self-motivation.

Make the most of your self-motivation to be the best you can be

Working on your self-motivation is just the same as working on anything else in sports. It’s about working on the necessary skills and abilities to keep yourself focused and make progress. But it’s also a good way to control your emotions in difficult situations.

According to a study published by Dr. Ureña Bonilla at the National University of Costa Rica, athletes who are motivated by external rewards work just as hard as those that are self-motivated.

However, depending on external factors is a risky strategy. You can’t always guarantee that those external rewards will be there or be enough. So, self-motivation is the only way to guarantee that you’ll always apply yourself to the max!

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