Motivation. The why behind our every move.

Motivation is a massive part of sport, training and work but also a part of our everyday life. There are 4 big factors that, according to extensive research, have a large influence on how and why we are motivated, and in what way.

What motivated you to get out of bed this morning?

Did you get out of bed because you had to go to work or school?

Or because you had to go to the gym or for an early morning run?

OR did you get out of bed because you had the opportunity to fill a role of responsibility, to change peoples lives, to learn, to make a difference, to feel satisfied, to take a step towards a goal or to grow your brain or body?


Behavioural psychologist, Dr Scott Geller describes waking up in the morning in two ways;

  1. Waking up to an alarm clock


  1. Waking up to an opportunity clock!

And YOU have control over which clock is yours!

It all comes down to your motivation and perception of influence in your life.


Self-determination theory describes three psychological mediators that influence whether you are intrinsically motivated, extrinsically motivated or not motivated at all (amotivation).

These mediators are the first three C’s that influence your motivation.

Choice. Community. Competence. And the fourth C… is the outcome of the first three.


But first…


Whether or not you perceive what you’re doing as a choice or not has a major impact on your motivation.

Research shows that, in an environment that is supportive of individuals’ autonomy, individuals are more likely to be intrinsically motivated.

Think of something you HAD to do because someone else was asking you to do it. And if you didn’t do it, there was a negative consequence.

You are likely to be motivated by failure avoidance.

Instead, when you perceive you have a choice in what you are doing you are likely to become and remain more motivated by seeking success!

And sometimes you don’t have a choice in what you’re doing; you simply have to do it. In these cases, remain outcome (consequence) focused.

 ‘How can I get the best result from doing this? What can I strive to achieve by doing this? What are the benefits of doing this? I have to do this to achieve…’

 Change your own thinking to focus on what you CAN control, rather than what you can’t. Choose how you feel. Choose how you think. Choose how you behave.



A sense of relatedness and connection to others.

Research tells us that when we are in a supportive community or team we are more likely to be intrinsically motivated.

Humans need each other. Surround yourself with a supportive community.

When you feel alone or isolated, you lose motivation.

Seek support.



Not only does feeling competent in something improve your self-confidence, it also improves your self-motivation.

Success promotes internal motivation. Positive feedback promotes internal motivation.

If you’re working hard and constantly aiming higher and higher and moving from one project or competition straight into the next without taking time to reflect on your achievements then your motivation is eventually going to lose momentum.

Fuel your motivation with your successes and take time to reflect on them!

Your perception of competence is very vulnerable to the feedback of others. Coaches, mentors, bosses, friends… they all have the ability to influence your perception of competence. If you’re getting nothing but negative feedback, ask them what are you doing WELL! Take the small wins and build your success bank to achieve greater confidence in your competence!

And finally…



The outcome of our actions.

As human beings we are conditioned to behave in a certain way to get a response.

Quite often we predict the response and can manipulate our behaviour accordingly.

It’s simple goal setting: to achieve ‘this’ I must do ‘this’.

SO how does this influence your motivation??

As previously mentioned, if you’re engaging in behaviour to avoid failure, you’re externalising your locus of control. This means – attributing consequences to something beyond your own control.

This is probably most easily understood using an example;

Scenario 1 – You’re going into the final game of the season. You don’t want to lose. You don’t want to let down your coach, your team, your sponsors, your family. Your motivation is rooted in fear and your mind is occupied by self-talk such as don’t mess this up, don’t get lazy out there (negative self talk). As soon as you get out there you feel nervous. Things go wrong and you blame the umpire, teammates, the other team and the conditions (externalising the locus of control). You lose and feel like you could have done so much better but the circumstances weren’t in your favour.

Scenario 2 – You’re going into the final game of the season. You want to play the best game; it’s the last one! You’re pumped, you’re excited and you’re mind is filled with self-talk; let’s do this, play your best! Your motivated by the energy of the crowd, you want to give them a high quality performance. As soon as you get out there you feel a buzz. Things go wrong but you pull yourself together and keep giving your best. You’re in control of your emotions and your actions; you’re playing to your standard and aren’t influenced by the other teams’ standard of play. Your team loses but you hold your head up high, shake the hand of the other team and know that you gave it your all. You’re already pumped for next season!

Take control of your own perspective. Choose the opportunity clock.