Self-Motivation…As seen from the “Cool Kids Table”


In last week’s ‘Things to Know Thursday’ blog post, we discussed some practical success tools to guide you in both your personal and academic lives. Our intention is to discuss each tool. This week, we will take an in depth look at practical success tool number one-Discovering Self-Motivation

Understanding what motivates you to do things is paramount to self-motivation. Trust me; I understand this may sound so elementary! But sometimes your motivation is hidden from your consciousness. As adult learners, we all understand our motivation may very well change (or dare I say will most definitely will change) from hour-to-hour, day-to-day and throughout our lives.  As life evolves (and it IS in constant evolution) our needs, wants and goals change and evolve too. So, let’s briefly discuss the two types of motivation.

There are two main types of motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic. In their simplest form, you can think about these two types of motivation as:

  • Intrinsic – enjoyment, because we want to
  • Extrinsic – money, because we have to

Different people are motivated by different things and at different times in their lives (here is the change and evolution subject again).  For instance, the same task may have more intrinsic motivators at certain times and more extrinsic motivators at other times. In all fairness, most things we do have a combination of the two types of motivation (keep this in mind).

When thinking about what motivates you to perform a certain task (academic, personal or other), think about both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators (remember, I mentioned to keep this in mind). Why should I keep this in mind you ask? Think of it this way, if you have trouble getting motivated to perform specific tasks it may be useful to write them down and list the motivators for each. Now we are ready to set personal goals!


For arguments sake, let’s lump these categories into what I refer to as LIFE GOALS. After all, academic, career, monetary, ethical and creative goals are each, in their own way, part of our LIFE GOALS! It is important to remember, when thinking about what you would like to achieve in your life, that CHANGE IS INEVITABLE (there it is again!).  Your circumstances and priorities will change through your life,

It may be useful to categorize YOUR life goals:

  • Academic goals– what knowledge and/or qualifications do you want to achieve?
  • Career goals– where would you like your career to take you, what level do you want to reach?
  • Monetary goals– what do you aim to earn at given point in your life?
  • Ethical goals– do you want to volunteer some of your time to a good cause or get involved in local events, politics etc.?
  • Creative goals– how do you want to progress creatively or artistically?

Once you have thought about (and written down) your life goals, you are ready to start planning on how best to achieve them. Now it’s time to make specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and timed goals; referred to as SMART goals (coined by George T. Doran in 1981). Are you ready? Sure you are!

Making Your Life Goals SMART:

  • smart goal setting conceptS-Specific: Make each goal specific, so you know exactly what it is.
  • M-Measurable: Make each goal measurable so you know how you are progressing.
  • A-Attainable: Don’t set impossible goals, make sure each goal and sub-goal is attainable.
  • R-Relevant: Make your goals relevant.  Ensure your sub-goals are relevant to your life goals.
  • T-Timed: Set time-limits or deadlines for when to achieve each goal.


Finally, it is important to keep track of what you want to achieve and stay motivated to do so.  Here are some tips I’ve acquired and used to help keep my motivation levels up. Constantly learn and seek knowledge (does life-long learner appeal to your senses?).  Read, study and talk to people. Knowledge and information are key ingredients for feeding your mind, keeping you curious and motivated.

  • Keep the Company of Enthusiastic People:  Try to avoid negative people and seek out positive, well-motivated people.  It is a lot easier to be motivated if the people around you are.
  • Keep Positive:Keep a positive attitude: See problems and set-backs as learning opportunities.
  • Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses: Work on ironing out your weaknesses and building on your strengths.
  • Do it: Try not to procrastinate, assess the risks but keep working towards your goals.
  • Get Help and Help Others: Don’t be afraid to ask other for help and don’t hold back if you can help them. Seeing other people succeed will help to motivate you to do the same.

Now, let’s get motivated my fellow students. Keep calm, WE GOT THIS!


Maria Tripi

President, SUNY ESC-NFC CARES Student Club