The Most Powerful Motivator and 13 Sources of Motivation

Motivation is the motive behind what drives us, it is the reason we do what we do. Many times it is confused with the feeling and urge to do something. People usually wait until they feel motivated to make a change, but nothing gets done, that’s because the real reason behind that motivation was not set. There was no other intention besides feeling inspired.

Motivation is very personal and will differ from person to person as everyone has different priorities, upbringing, values, experiences, life seasons, age, etc. We all have different purposes we want to live for and different things we enjoy. The point is that there is no one answer for motivation, it’s going to be different for everyone.

What drives you and gets you excited and out of bed every day will be different for someone else, you have to dig deep and be honest with yourself about what brings you joy and what you want for your life. Then use that as your motivation.

What is a Powerful Motivator?

Although the reasons for a strong motivator differ from person to person, typically, there is a common denominator, and that is fear. Fear is a powerful motivator because it invokes the flight or fight in us and it makes us scared and uncomfortable, so we’ll do what we can to avoid it.

Money is a goal associated with fear because it is often the solution to get out of a situation. Money pays for our survival, it helps us buy food, shelter, transportation, and all the essentials to living. Typically people who grew up without money are more motivated to make money.

“We all have problems. But it’s not what happens to us, it’s the choices we make after”

Elizabeth Smart

Have you ever been in a bad situation that you never want to experience again? Or you grew up in a situation you hope to never go through again? Our experiences and upbringing instill this fear in us to avoid and those can be strong motivators.

Have you ever hit a low, sad, and dark point in your life that you hope to never experience again? The fear of never wanting to go back to that can be a strong motivator. Fear makes us scared that we’ll be stuck in the situation for a long time so it can help us make a change.

You may not be motivated to go to work every day but you do it anyway because you could be scared to lose your job, which pays for your living essentials.

Avoiding something because you’re scared is a powerful motivator whether you realize it or not.

Click here to read what the 3 components of motivation are.

What Motivates People?

Fear is a stronger motivator, however, once you feel like you’re at a good spot in life and the motivation is not fear anymore, what motivates you? How do you keep going?

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot”

Michael Altshuler

There are two different sources of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is the motivation for personal gratification. Extrinsic motivation is the motivation for external rewards like material things or status.

Intrinsic motivation typically happens more in the later stages of life because it involves being happy with who you are as a person inside. Your goals in life become more about yourself and your achievements.

Extrinsic motivation often occurs more when you are younger and earlier in your goals. When you are younger you are more likely to have material goals such as cars and clothes.

You can check out this article about when motivation runs out and how to get it back.

13 Common Sources of Motivation

The sources below fall into either intrinsic or extrinsic. However, motivation is like fitness, the best one is the one that works for you. There is no right or wrong source of motivation just like there is no right or wrong type of workout. If it gets you to work out, then that’s great! Motivate yourself and achieve your goals!

Happiness – The most common reason for getting motivated is to be happier. Finding joy in something and having it inspire you to enjoy life more is the biggest motivator.

Achievement – The satisfaction of knowing you can accomplish something you set your mind to is so rewarding

Power – Having influence over people or having people look up to you. This one carries a lot of responsibilities but knowing you worked hard to get to where you are and now people respect you and want to be like you is a strong motivator.

Belonging – Humans are social animals and no one wants to feel lonely. Creating good connections and forming meaningful relationships can help our well-being.

Money – Money is not everything, but it sure is helpful. Beyond the living essentials, money is not happiness but it does open up opportunities.

Material things – Cars, houses, watches, clothes, etc. anything that you can buy to show for your hard work.

Autonomy – The desire to be in control and self-directed. Life can throw us curve balls that we can’t control, but knowing we can control our own goals and desires in certain areas will satisfy us.

Learning – We are students of life, and the best thing we can do for our minds is to never stop learning, there are many benefits to lifelong learning. Staying curious and exploring is what will fulfill us and keep things fun and interesting.

Personality – Are you the competitive type? Do you always strive higher and bigger and feel like it’s within you to always reach those goals?

Reputation – The standard you hold for yourself and what you want to be known as.

Purpose – To feel like we are here for a reason, and that we are making an impact to change and inspire.

Mastery – Finding your talent and hobby and knowing you’re good at something will bring so much pride and joy.

People – Our families, kids, parents, friends, special people in our lives. Other people can be strong motivators because they support us and help lift us. Sometimes just not wanting to disappoint them is a strong motivator too.


There is no right or wrong answer for motivation, it varies from person to person, but no matter what your motivation is, never lose sight of it. Keep reminding yourself when the doubt kicks in and you want to give up, remember why you started in the first place.

Once your motivation is established, stay focused and productive, you can check out our article about why it can be hard to stay productive.

“Nothing is Impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m Possible!'”

Audrey Hepburn

Hong Singer

I'm the creator of Ambition Forward. I keep things simple by focusing on the goal and being consistent in my actions to get the results I want, and I'm here to help you do the same. I encourage you to look for the things that bring you joy and go for it!

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