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The Definition of Motivation and What It Means For You

blog author
Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

While there are many definitions of motivation, I like Business Dictionary's best:

/,mōdә΄vāSH(ә)n/ • noun

Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal.

Let's break it down.

Internal and External Factors

Some parts of motivation are innate. Yes, some people are naturally more motivated than others to do certain things. But it's not entirely something you have or don't. There are many external factors that can help to build and/or drain your motivation.

For example, your office environment can affect your motivation to work on certain things. If you need to concentrate to write a big proposal, being in a busy office with people all around you may not be the best environment to do so.

How you start your day can greatly influence your motivation and productivity. How distracted you are at work impacts motivation. How you feel about your company, co-workers, position, and products and services all impact your motivation.

Stimulate Desire

Desire is emotional. It's what you want. When you know what you want and why, you become much more motivated to do what's necessary to get it. I know people who want to advance in their career, but they need to bring in more new business for that to be possible.

Here's the problem: some of these people never really commit to doing what it takes to advance. They make a few prospecting calls, attend one networking event, and then claim prospecting doesn't work. Then, it's right back to where they started with no new business generated.

When does the cycle change? When they want the long-term reward of making more money and advancing in their career enough that they're willing to commit to the effort of prospecting—even though it's hard.

If you can stimulate your desire, you'll be ready and willing to act.

Stimulate Energy

Energy isn't a topic commonly tied to motivation, yet its importance can't be understated. When your energy is low, it effects your desire and ability to be productive, achieve goals, and stay motivated.

To maintain motivation over the long-term, you must sustain your energy. Good sleep, work-life balance, mental health, exercise, and eating right all effect your energy and thereby your motivation. Work is a marathon, not a sprint. You need your mind, body, and spirit to be fresh and filled to sustain motivation.

In fact, in our Extreme Productivity research, we found that The Extremely Productive (The XP) are 3.5x more likely than The Rest to regularly sustain energy for long periods of time. This was also a key driver of productivity.


I regularly sustain energy for long periods of time.


Continual Interest and Commitment to a Job, Role, or Subject

If you're not interested or committed to what you're doing, it's very difficult to get motivated to do it. The more you can tie your goals to your current job, role, or subject, the more you can spark interest in it. When interest isn't there, motivation is hard to find.

For example, if you don't like technology, a tech sales role probably isn't for you. On the other hand, if you're interested in healthcare, medical sales will likely be a better fit.

Find an area that piques your interest and you'll be much more successful.

Make an Effort

Making an effort is about actually getting started on the actions that'll get you to where you want to be. It’s about being proactive.

In fact, Ignite Your Proactivity is the second habit in our report, 3 Daily Habits to Increase Sales Motivation.

Attain a Goal

Much academic research has shown that people who set goals, develop a plan to reach those goals, track progress, and hold themselves accountable are much more motivated. They're also much more likely to achieve their goals.

Here's how it works: You set a goal, make progress toward it, achieve it, and feel good.

Your motivation soars.

Then you set more goals and act to make progress towards them again. See how this works?

If you want to increase your motivation, it's important to understand motivation and all the factors that relate to it. By understanding this definition, you can identify areas that may be draining your motivation and uncover ways to maximize it.

Download Now: 3 Daily Habits to Increase Sales Motivation


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Topics: Sales Performance Improvement Extreme Productivity