How to Become Self Driven: 5 Motivation Killers to Avoid

Written by David Davenport – Contributing Author Healing Arts Institute

Motivation is a difficult concept to master because it can seem so fickle. We can bounce between feeling highly driven and stubbornly lazy in a relatively short period. 

The forces which motivate us come in two basic varieties. External and internal. 

External motivation comes from a source outside of your control. Another person or environmental situation that forces you to act. This type of motivation can be positive in the form of praise or monetary compensation, or it can be negative in the form of coercion or threats.

In either situation, external motivation can be a powerful factor in motivating you to accomplish a task, but the source is ultimately out of your control.

Internal (or intrinsic) motivation draws upon a passion that is within you, it is what drives you towards accomplishing your goals.

What governs self-motivation, and what can be done to avoid losing that motivation?

Internal motivation is determined by three basic factors:

Autonomy – The feeling that the task you are working on is a result of your own choice.

Relatedness – The feeling that the time you spend towards accomplishing your task will be beneficial as part of a larger picture. A sense of belonging.

Competence – The feeling that your work is effective and necessary in an ongoing chain of events. In other words, your work has a purpose.

Studies have shown that all these must be present to develop and sustain self-motivation. The synergistic interplay of these factors suggests that if any one of them decreases, internal motivation will also decrease. If that happens, external motivation will become the dominating influence.

If you’ve been procrastinating on completing a project one or all three of these elements are likely missing. Take time to analyze what you are working towards and find where autonomy, relatedness, and competence play a role. Chances are your productivity and enjoyment will increase dramatically.

5 Motivation Killers to Avoid

Making Excuses

It is common to make excuses for not doing the things we need to do. Maybe you are afraid to start a project that is outside your comfort zone or acquire a new client for your business. It becomes easier to tell yourself that a daunting challenge is impossible rather than mustering the courage to tackle it. Rejection and failure are possible outcomes, but not even trying will always guarantee that result.


Occupying your mental and emotional energy with negative thinking will only dampen your motivation. While it is important to be realistic and aware of your constraints, focusing excessive attention on negative outcomes will make it almost impossible for you to complete your task or project with a feeling of satisfaction.

Comparing Yourself to Others

Your journey and accomplishments are your own and no one else’s. It is alright to want to attain what someone else has already achieved, but you should do so with the understanding that persistence and patience will allow you to reach that goal. Instant success is an illusion.

Pursuing Superficial Results

Whatever you do, do not make the mistake of pursuing activities that serve to impress others rather than working towards your goals. Your time is precious and overloading yourself with activities that do not directly advance your goals will only take attention away from things that matter and deflate your motivation.  

Ignoring Self-Care

This may be the most important thing on our list. Making sure that you are healthy and happy goes a long way in keeping your motivation going. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep. Take a little time out of each day to exercise, even if it’s just a walk. If you don’t have the time to eat three full meals, eat several small snacks throughout the day and drink plenty of water.

Your life belongs to you and nobody else. No matter how busy you are, take time out of each day for yourself, and prioritize your needs over everything else. You’ll be surprised how invigorating it is when you realize how influential your well being is over everything else that you do.


Dysvik, Anders, et al. “An Investigation of the Unique, Synergistic and Balanced Relationships between Basic Psychological Needs and Intrinsic Motivation.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol. 43, no. 5, 2013, pp. 1050–64. Crossref, doi:10.1111/jasp.12068.

Psych2Go. “10 Habits That Are DESTROYING Your Motivation.” YouTube, uploaded by Psych2Go, 1 Oct. 2020,

Ryan, Richard M., and Edward L. Deci. “Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being.” American Psychologist, vol. 55, no. 1, 2000, pp. 68–78. Crossref, doi:10.1037/0003-066x.55.1.68.

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