During our training programs we often hear the words “If only I could get myself more motivated”. What we find is that most people are not aware of the role emotion plays in motivating ourselves to achieve results. Emotion means ‘energy in motion’. It seems that for many of us trying to pursue a challenging goal, the tendency is to react to it with concern. Thoughts like “I’ll never get through this” or “I can’t get it all done” are often common and result in low levels of energy and therefore motivation.

Harnessing emotions in order to achieve a goal is essential for self-motivation. Emotion is the foundation for creativity, optimism, passion, drive, confidence and personal mastery which are intrinsically linked to enthusiasm, initiative, and persistence; vital elements of motivation. Consequently learning to use your emotions to enhance outcomes in your life is a critical element of self-motivation.

Developing self-motivation is about learning how to dispute the negative beliefs that prevent you from achieving what you want in life. As you eliminate the feelings that say “I can’t…I don’t know how…I don’t deserve it…I can’t handle it…” you uncover your innate sense of “I can” that naturally catapults you to greater success.

Our inappropriate emotions cause us to act impulsively—as you let them go, you find it easier to stick with your goals. As human beings we are goal– oriented, and being self-motivated means pursuing our goals with commitment, passion, energy and persistence.

Harnessing this self-motivation leads to optimism and hope, as it allows us to carry on despite the inevitable obstacles we will encounter. People with less self-motivation give up easily when they encounter difficulties. This in turn, impacts on their self-esteem and confidence. After a while they don’t even try to achieve for fear that they may fail. People with an optimistic attitude see failure as temporary. It is something that can be changed, and they have some control over their circumstances.

“Psychologists tell us that the feeling of hopelessness can lead to depression, with its resulting lack of energy and motivation. The only thing we can control and change 100% of the time is our attitude…” Dr Emily Sterrett[i]

This is food for thought for all of us looking at external sources to help us stay motivated. Alternately our own emotions; our positivity, optimism and passion, may be our most useful ally in motivating ourselves in the workforce and a key factor in improving workplace performance.



[i] Dr. Sterrett, Emily. (2000). ‘The Management’s Pocket Guide to Emotional Intelligence’. Amherst, MA: HRD Press