I always give people this advice – never read motivational books, watch motivational videos, or listen to tips that talk about motivation until you understand a little bit of how motivation is created and sustained.
What I mean, before you begin your selection of the best motivational books or videos, first take a moment and understand the concept of motivation.
What is it, how do you become or stay motivated, why you should read motivational books or watch motivational videos, how to make it work efficiently, and how to leverage your motivational energy in areas such as your health, wealth, relationship, leadership, spiritual well-being, career, work, etc.?
The objective of this article is to help you understand the concept of motivation so that you can make informed decisions in picking motivational books, and leverage your motivational energies in key areas of your life.
After reading this article you might want to check out my list of carefully selected Motivational Books for Men and Motivational Books for Women or, read this article on Getting Tasks Done By Learning The Secrets To Overcoming Procrastination.
What is motivation?
Motivation is the process that starts, guides, and maintains goal-related behaviors. Motivation involves the biological, emotional, social, and cognitive elements that activate behavior.
Simply put, motivation is the reason one has for acting or behaving in a particular way or the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.
Motivation is the fuel you need to move toward your goals or something of significance. Motivation empowers you to disregard the agony and struggle involved in arriving at your goals.
It helps you focus more on the joy of pursuing your goals and less on the pain or struggle involved. The 12 motivational books for men highlighted here won’t just keep you motivated and inspired but will also empower you to get things done on time.
Types of motivation?
Regardless of whether it’s getting to the gym, writing that individual blog post, working on your app project, etc., we generally need the motivation to complete these things. At times, it’s hard to get what motivates us best.
However, there are 3 kinds of motivation that we can draw momentum from – each with its advantages and disadvantages. So, it is your job to test out the kind of motivation that works best for you. By knowing this, you can leverage this motivational energy when doing tasks that are difficult to complete.
Originally, psychologists informed us that there were 2 kinds of motivation. But as new researches and findings emerge, they have added a third kind of motivation which will be discussed shortly.
This type of motivation is activated by external rewards and reinforcers. This type of motivation works best for certain people and in certain situations. However, people can easily become demotivated when the external influencers are removed.
Research published in Contemporary Educational Psychology puts this type of motivation way. “Extrinsic motivation is a construct that pertains whenever an activity is done in order to attain some separable outcome.”
When do you see extrinsic motivation in action?
Extrinsic motivation works best in circumstances where the reward is used occasionally so that the reward does lose its motivational impact.
Being paid to do a task is an example of extrinsic motivation. You would prefer spending your day doing something you enjoy other than going to work for a paycheck. However, you’re motivated to go to work because you need the money to take care of your expenses. In this case, you’re extrinsically motivated by your capacity to handle the cost associated with your daily expenses. Therefore, you use this motivational drive or energy to work several hours a week in order to get a paycheck.
Some examples of activities where extrinsic motivation will work well include:
- competing to win money
- competing to win trophies in sporting activities
- getting a free gift after making a purchase
- completing a task to earn money
- signing up to get customer loyalty discounts
Extrinsic motivation can also have psychological rewards. Here are some examples:
- assisting people because you want the praises from others
- doing something charitable because of the attention it will draw to you
- volunteering because of public fame or acclamation
- do work because you don’t want to be judged or condemned
- studying the subject because you want to top your class
As mentioned earlier, extrinsic motivation can have some serious drawbacks. One major drawback is that you may likely don’t know what to do next when the reward is gone or the value of the reward is diminished. Another drawback is a person becoming dependent on a reward into to move into action. In other words, no rewards, no actions.
This type of motivation is activated by internal satisfaction or the feeling one gets from doing something that is associated with a sense of purpose or fulfillment.
Another definition from the journal of Contemporary Educational Psychology describes intrinsic motivation as doing “an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than for some separable consequence.”
A simple and concise statement about intrinsic motivation is as follows; “Intrinsic motivation is doing something because it feels good to you. You feel internally rewarded for doing it,”
When you are intrinsically motivated, you are driven to take action because of the fun, challenge, or satisfaction involved not instead of external rewards, pressing factors, or benefits.
There is a study of 14 years of data in which researchers investigated motivation and its outcomes for over 10,000 new cadets at the West Point Military Academy. Their finding shows that cadets with primarily internal motives were 20% more likely to make it through their training than the average cadets. It also shows that those with external motivations show a 10% lower chance of pushing through with the training regimen and a 20% lower chance of receiving an early promotion.
In a nutshell, intrinsic motivation has huge advantages over extrinsic motivation. So, understanding your sources of motivation and what that motivational energies are being used on is very important information to have.
When do you see intrinsic motivation in action?
Intrinsic motivation works in circumstances where a person shows nature interest in or has an internal meaning about something.
Some examples of activities where intrinsic motivation will work well include:
- learning a new language programming language because you like experiencing new concepts, not because your work requires it
- participating in a sport even because of the fun you enjoy rather than winning the trophy
- taking on additional work responsibility because you enjoyed being challenged and feeling accomplished, rather than getting a salary raise or big promotion
- cleaning your workspace or house because you enjoy a neat space rather than doing to get praise from others
- volunteering because you enjoy it and feel fulfilled rather than do it to be praised by others.
Even though intrinsic is highly motivating, there can be a drawback as with extrinsic motivation. You would feel shame or for any failures for not completing a task and also believe think that your sense of self-worth depends upon accomplishing a task.
It is also good to point out that you can be intrinsically motivated while spending your time and energy doing something of little or no value.
How you can keep your intrinsic motivation active
- Identify the fun aspect of your work or find easy ways to make your work engaging.
- Find the meaning or value in the task. Focus on how will help others
- Keep challenging yourself. Set attainable goals. Mastering a skill of interest is not because of its external benefits.
- Continue to be charitable to others.
- Create a genuine “love to-do list”. Choose one thing on that list to do whenever you have free time or feeling unmotivated.
- Participate in a local competition not for winning the trophy but enjoying the performances.
- When starting a task, visualize one or some of your proud moments. Stay with that feeling while you work on the task at hand.
At this point, if you still struggle to find a way to intrinsically motivate yourself, all is not lost. Welcome to family motivation. No matter where you are from, we have that one family or at least friend in our life that would be the core reason for getting something done. Family motivation is when a person is motivated by the desire to provide for his/her loved ones
Family motivation was added a few years ago as the third source of motivation. It has been proven to be an effective and strong source of inspiration for many. Even for those who find it difficult to become intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, Family motivation usually breaks through the barriers.
To become or stay motivated involves doing a combination of various things. I will not go into depth here on how to become or stay motivated because this article is written to recommend books that are designed to keep you motivated and inspired.
Another study published in the Academy of Management Journal looked at a group of assembly-line employees whose daily tasks involved doing a similar ordinary assignment day after day, with no compensations for good performance.
It will surprise that even in the absence of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators, the factory workers still perform better. The researchers found out that if one has a huge desire for his/her family’s survival or well-being, it becomes a strong source of motivation.
Family motivation can relate to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Assuming family is a top worth of yours, your family can fill in as an intrinsic motivator. Assuming you feel family pressing factors or obligations, that’s more of an extrinsic motivator.
A great quote by organizational psychologist Nick Tasler sums up family motivation. “Every job — whether you’re washing dishes or performing kidney surgery — provides us with the opportunity to affirm our identities as capable, respectable individuals, upon whom the most important people in our lives can rely.”
The role of Dopamine in motivation
If you have not heard of the neurotransmitter dopamine, it is a chemical release in our brain and kidney. It plays several roles in our brain and body. Inside the brain, dopamine plays the role of executive functions, motor control, motivation, arousal, reinforcement, and reward, sexual gratification, etc.
Now, if dopamine helps you to stay motivated then it is something to consider in your quest for becoming and staying motivated. Remember, it is not a side thing, it is right in your central nervous system.
If you are low on dopamine, no matter how many motivational books you read or videos you watch, it will significantly reduce your level of motivation and other important characteristics needed for your survival.
The Best way to maintain a healthy dopamine level
- Listen to music
- Get sunlight
- Eat some dark chocolate, eggs
- Eat dairy food such as milk and yogurt
- Eat Omega-3 rich fish such as salmon and mackerel.
- Eat fruit and vegetables, especially bananas.
- Eat nuts such as almonds and walnuts.
Now that you have learned that something else plays an important role in your motivation, it is now time to leverage its potentialities in your favor. You can’t help but make dopamine your friend. I would love to recommend a great book that teaches you about this very important neurochemical. The Molecule of More, by Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long, is a fantastic book that will help you fully understand the ins and outs of dopamine.
What makes motivational books work?
On a very important note, if you are motivated and you don’t have the right system or routine set up so that you can easily use your motivational fuel, motivation will not work well for you. You might not be able to reach your goals or complete the task at hand.
It doesn’t matter whether you have read all the motivational or self-help books or have memorized all the motivational quotes, without a system or routine that makes taking actions obvious and easy, you will be going nowhere slowly.
In short, motivation including willpower doesn’t work well all by itself. To get the best out of your motivational energies, develop a system or routine that will empower you to get things done almost automatically. Motivation works easily when smart systems or routines are set up.
Some individuals might need a system for overcoming procrastination despite their high level of motivation. By eliminating the habit of procrastination, they would now be in a better position to fully utilize their motivational energies.
I will not go deeper into system and habit development in this article. However, I will suggest three amazing books that can assist you with habit and system formation.
If you are interested in breaking bad habits and developing good ones, you might want to check out these three bestsellers on habits formation and elimination: Atomic Habits by James Clear, and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
Should you invest time reading motivational books?
One thing to remember is that your life can be separated into five significant life areas. It is also great to note that these areas decide the degree of fulfillment you will experience throughout your everyday life and the impact you will have on the people surrounding you.
Concerning the five most significant life areas, motivation is one of the key factors that decide the level of momentum you will apply towards your goals and the level of results you achieve.
Now, I want you to think about the five significant life areas as the central pillars of your life venture. So, the five central pillars or life areas include Health & Wellness, Relationships, Leadership, Spiritual Wellness, and Financial Independence.
No matter what you do and where you go, you will have something to do with these five life areas. If you learn how to leverage your motivational energies in the life areas mentions above, your life will be far ahead of most people.
Leveraging your motivational energy
Like I stated earlier, everything you do is centered around health, relationship, leadership, spirituality, and financial independence. Knowing how to leverage your motivational energies in these areas will help you to get results fast and live a more fulfilling life.
So, let’s briefly see how you can leverage motivational energies in these life areas. One of the best ways to leverage your motivational energies in
other important areas of your life is to use the concept of temptation bundling. It is a concept introduced by a behavioral economist, Katherine Milkman. Temptation bundling states that you should “bundle” something you enjoy with something you dread or fear.
So, if you are motivated about making 50,000 dollars a week, you can hang or bundle any of the important life areas mentioned into that motivation. In other words, your lack of motivation for eating healthy can be bundled with your motivation for making 50,000 dollars per week.
This concept works well. However, it may not work well if you bundle too many things into motivational energy associated with one goal. You may become overwhelmed. For example, if you have high motivation for golf, car racing, reading, and weightlifting, you can bundle each of the important life areas unto them individually.
The second method is to bundle the important life areas one at a time. Let say you are motivated about just one goal. For example, let say you are motivated about only golf, and you also want to develop healthy lifestyle habits but lack the motivation for it. In this case, you would take your healthy lifestyle goal and bundle it with your golf motivation for a couple of weeks and see if it sticks.
After you have developed the habit of a healthy lifestyle within whatsoever time frame you will decide upon, you can then take on the next life area and bundle it for another time frame. For how long you would want to bundle a life area differs from individual to individual. It is always good to test out what works best for you.
Actionable steps for keeping your motivated
With a healthy level of dopamine, the following actions will help boost your motivation drive and help you to get the things that matter done with speed and momentum.
- Set relevant and realistic goals
- Choose goals that are meaningful to you
- Find an accountability partner or make your goals public
- Track your progress towards your goals
- Break up your goals into easy doable parts
- Give yourself rewards after achieving smaller goal-related activities
- Seek help through mentorship and other relevant means
- Read books or watch videos that keep you motivated and inspired
- Avoid negative and toxic environments or people
- Constantly visualize the impacts of your goals when achieved
- Eat Healthily (Remember food also provide information that your brain feeds on)
- Do some form of exercise weekly
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Have enough rest or sleep.
Motivation is the energy that drives you to work on your goals. However, motivation by itself has some limitations. To get the most out of your motivational energy, you will need to have a system in place. A great book to help you on setting productivity system is Atomic Habits by James Clear,
You can deploy any of the 3 types of motivation depending on the situation or the outcome you want to see and how soon you want to see it. However, intrinsic and family motivations are the most effective way to stay motivated because they are not based on rewards or something outside ourselves.
OK, now that you have some insights about being motivated and how you can utilize your motivational energies, as a reminder, you might want to check out the Motivational Books for Men or Motivational Books for Women. Or may this article on Getting Tasks Done By Learning The Secrets To Overcoming Procrastination.
Get yourself some copies, start getting things done faster and change your life.
If you got any value from this article, kindly leave a comment below. Or, if you suggest a book that I can add below, kindly list it in the comment section as well.
This book reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has captivated readers for nearly three decades. Over 40 million copied sold.
This book is for anyone looking to rebuild old habits, form new ones, or start all over. The strategies in this book are based on years of scientific research and testing.
Limitless gives you the ability to accomplish more. More productivity, more transformation, more personal success and business achievement – by changing your Mindset, Motivation, and Methods.
This book presents a potentially life-changing explanation of how dopamine influences your behavior and how you can leverage it in your favor.
Written by a man who is widely recognized as the world’s leading expert on personal and organizational productivity. Getting Things Done, or GTD, is a productivity methodology based on a few deceptively simple concepts.
In his mega bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, world-famous psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think.
Here is a quick video from James Clear on Motivation and Habit Formation.