motivationHave you ever felt unmotivated to finish something, and then you read a quote or someone says something that changes your whole attitude? That, my friends, is the simple power of motivation. Motivation can come from internal or external sources and will vary from person to person. Something that motivates me may not motivate the person next to me in the same way. Just as everyone has a unique learning style and love language, we also have different motivating factors. Why is motivation important in life, especially in academia? Motivation is the essential ingredient for purposeful action. The source of your motivation determines the priorities in your life, the effectiveness of your study sessions, the friends that you choose, and even the food that you eat. The good news is that we are able to control many of our motivations.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, motivation is “the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something; the condition of being eager to act or work; a force or influence that causes someone to do something.” Essentially, motivation gives rise to action, which is a choice. We make choices using our brain to sort through information that we have gathered. When there is something that we must do, but we are lacking the motivation to do that specific thing, it is best to reflect on why motivation is lacking. To do this, we must understand the types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic.

child wins trophy


Extrinsic motivation is rooted in completing an action for the sake of gaining some positive effect or avoiding a negative effect. Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of oneself and is secondary to the action performed. Some examples of extrinsic motivation include:

  • Studying for a test to get a good grade and to pass the course
  • Playing a sport to win a trophy
  • Writing an essay to win a scholarship
  • Cleaning your room to avoid being grounded for the weekend


intrinsic motivationIntrinsic motivation is doing some action for it’s own sake. Intrinsic motivation comes from inside of us
and is directly related to the action being performed rather than from the results it produces. Examples of intrinsic motivation include:

  • Playing an exciting game because you enjoy that game
  • Cooking a delicious meal because you enjoy cooking
  • Reading a good book because you enjoy reading
  • Traveling to see new places because you enjoy site-seeing


It is important to have a healthy balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivations. Extrinsic motivations can induce interest in something in which we had no prior interest. On the other hand, intrinsic motivations can move us to do things without dependence on a particular result. Both motivation types are important in academia.  Extrinsic motivation can provide incentives for students to perform well in classes. However, if students become too dependent on extrinsic motivation, then they may begin to lose their intrinsic motivation. For example, if you enjoyed fishing as a hobby (intrinsic motivation), and then started getting paid for each fish that you caught (extrinsic motivation), you may no longer enjoy fishing just for the sake of fishing. Intrinsic motivation is powerful since it comes from within. Praising someone for their intrinsic motivation may increase their intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation can begin as a choice, which can blossom into intrinsic motivation through the discovery of a deeper meaning in the action.


Words are powerful motivators and can invoke intrinsic motivation. If you are lacking some motivation in life, here are some ideas that may inspire you to take action:

  • Freedom
    • We are autonomous beings, and unlike many creatures, we have the unique ability to do what we choose. Choose to do that which gets you closer to your goals.
  • Perseverance
    • Keep pressing on. You never know what you are made of until you challenge yourself to go beyond the difficult moments.
  • Joy
    • Surround yourself with things that make you laugh. Joy is contagious and can easily brighten your mood.
  • Knowledge
    • It is commonly said that “knowledge is power.” When you gain new knowledge, master a concept, or synthesize ideas, you will feel empowered to tackle the hurdles in front of you.
  • Anticipation
    • Looking forward to something can foster excitement and momentum. The good feelings that come from anticipation can provide an avenue for productivity.

Do we expose ourselves to motivational people, quotes, and actions? Many things have the potential to motivate us. Expose yourself to things that may ignite or re-ignite a passion for something.  Try something new, such as learning Spanish through our Spanish workshops, cooking a new recipe, playing an instrument, or training a pet. Whether we need to re-evaluate our current motivations, or find motivation altogether, do the following steps to refresh your outlook on this semester:

  1. Schedulethinking woman

    1. What do you spend your time doing on a daily basis?
    2. Are your daily activities getting you closer to your goals?
  2. Goals
    1. What are your short-term and long-term goals?
    2. Are these goals extrinsic or intrinsic motivations? Remember, it is important to have a good balance of both.
  3. Action
    1. What are you doing now to achieve your goals?
    2. Are you putting yourself in a position to be motivated?

Now get out there and pursue your goals! (We hope that was motivating.)