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Understanding Self-Determination and What Keeps You Motivated

Understanding Self-Determination and What Keeps You Motivated

Recall any goal that you set for yourself in the past which you then went on to achieve. I’m willing to bet that if you think about that time in your life, you’ll remember how determined you felt. You knew that it was up to you to make the changes necessary to achieve your goal and you pig-headedly believed you could and would do it. And then you did.

Psychologists call this ability to motivate yourself to make significant changes in your life self-determination.

Are you ready for change?  Read more about the phases of change here.


What Motivates Us?


We are motivated intrinsically and extrinsically. Intrinsic motivation means we do things because we want to, it makes us happy and satisfies us on a deeper level. No external reward necessary. Extrinsic, or external motivation, is the age-old carrot or stick. We do things because we feel we should do them. External motivation rewards us with money or recognition – or because if we don’t do or perform the actions – the consequences will be detrimental.

While both types of motivation are powerful and often are at work at the same time, internal motivation is a far more powerful and long-lasting driver for success. Intrinsic motivation is also the foundation of self-determination – which is the major factor in our ability to make decisions that have a positive effect on our lives as a whole.


What is Self-Determination?


Simply put, self-determination is a person’s ability to be autonomous, that is to make choices and manage their own life. 

Being self-determined, feeling like you have the autonomy and freedom to make choices that shape your destiny, is important for each person’s well-being. 

When you pursue things that are intrinsically motivated, that are aligned with your top priority values and goals, you will feel happier and more capable of making good choices. It also has an impact on motivation—people feel more motivated to take action when they feel confident that what they do will have an effect on the outcome.


How to Improve Self-Determination


Believe you have control over your own life. It is up to you.  What you do will influence outcomes. When you are confronted with challenges, believe you can overcome them through diligence, good choices and hard work. You can go after the things that you want. 



Be self-motivated. Remove all ideas of external rewards or punishments from your mind-set. Be single-minded in taking actions that will serve your goals.

Take responsibility for your choices and behaviours. This means taking credit for successes as well as acknowledging failure as your own without blaming anything or anyone else.  Be accountable.  But, never forget that failure is part of the learning process.

Work on being more self-aware and improving certain skills. Improving self-awareness, decision-making skills, and goal-setting abilities will give you the confidence to be autonomous.

Plan, plan, plan and just keep planning. This will give you a structure.  This will help to warm the pool before you dive in.  This will keep you in control and motivated. This will keep the anxiety and procrastination monkeys that lurk in your brain at bay.  Believe me.


Autonomy is one of the most fierce and potent needs of human beings.

Margaret Moore

And this is where having a coach will make the most impact in your life


Do you have the right level of motivation? The right level of confidence? Do you have the strategies to get past the obstacles that get in the way, so that you can move into action? 

You need energy plus conviction plus structure to make that shift.

Caroline Dale

A good coach will draw out your innate ability to be autonomous. They will guide you on how to manage your challenges and help you dig deep to answer the crucial intrinsically motivating question: What will your desired change, for example: completing your thesis, REALLY mean to you?

Nothing will make you feel more committed, passionate and satisfied about your goal ahead than feeling in control and intrinsically motivated.

READ more about mindset here.