How to Find Motivation Again, According to Psychology

Motivation can be hard to find after an intense burnout episode. Getting back on track can be overwhelming, especially when you start overthinking about everything you’ve missed and need to catch upon. Motivation can be a massive help to get you back into your routine, and there are many psychology-based tactics that can help you find motivation again.

However, motivation ebbs and flows, so it is important to couple it up with discipline. Discipline is the quality of being able to work and behave in a way that is controlled according to standards you set for yourself. Motivation, however, is a reason for behaving in a certain way, something that pushes you to do something. There are two types of motivation according to psychology: intrinsic and extrinsic. Let’s find out more, and how one may be more valuable for motivation.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation are things that motivate you from within. These can be things like a personal goal you wish to achieve or because it is fun and enjoyable to you. When you are intrinsically motivated, you engage in an activity or task because you enjoy it and/or get personal satisfaction from completing the activity or task. This is why intrinsic motivation is more valuable to self-improvement because it is founded on your own desire to improve your quality of life and regain internal satisfaction. Here are a few examples:

  • working hard because you’re good at it,
  • taking a walk to relax,
  • hanging out with friends because they make you feel good,
  • travelling because you’re naturally curious and love learning about new cultures.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation are external things that motivate you to complete a task or activity. For example, you complete a task at work because you receive pay for doing that task. When you are extrinsically motivated, you do something to gain external approval or a reward. However, studies have shown that extrinsic motivation is ephemeral to motivation because there is no effective reward from completing a task that is extrinsically motivated. Most of the rewards in this instance are material which, as we know, does not bring us any real joy. Based on the previously mentioned examples, here’s what they would look like if you were extrinsically motivated:

  • working hard because you may get a monetary bonus,
  • taking a walk to achieve a certain weight,
  • hanging out with friends to bost about it on social media and get attention,
  • travelling to (again) show off on social media and impress your following.

While extrinsic motivation is useful in certain instances (such as doing your tasks for work, so you can get paid and live), doing activities because we are extrinsically motivated is not that beneficial to us. Studies have shown that doing activities because of extrinsic motivation actually lowers the quality of work and discourages us from doing a similar task again. When you actually get pleasure and enjoyment out of a task, you are more likely to repeat the task. This is why you should implement this type of motivation if you want to incorporate healthy habits or routines into your life.

Watch this short video to learn more about intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation!

As we mentioned in Episode 13, it is important to focus on habits that feel valuable and pleasurable to you. There are a multitude of healthy habits you can incorporate and choose from that work for you. For example, if you want to incorporate some exercise but are not keen on going to the gym or lifting weights, try other ways of exercising: if you are social and love to meet new people, join a sports club or simply go to the park with your friends and play football or frisbee. If you prefer being at home during your workouts, do home workouts using YouTube where many different types of workouts are available to you, from yoga and pilates, to cardio and kickboxing.


The most important lesson you must draw from this article is the importance of incorporating new habits or routines that feel rewarding and motivating to you. If you are having trouble getting started, here are some ideas to inspire you:

  • try and focus on one goal and one goal ONLY: often when we’ve been burnt out, it’s because we have been doing too much at once. Setting yourself one SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goal – it could be as simple as getting into a workout routine again – will allow you to not waste energy on anything else but that one goal.
  • get support: have an accountability buddy or someone of trust work on your goal with you! If your goal is to start exercising again (whatever that looks like to you), get a friend, family member or co-worker to do the activity with you. You can keep each other motivated and accountable.
  • motivation ebbs and flows: as mentioned previously, motivation is not always there. You might feel as though some days you really can’t be bothered to do something. Remind yourself that doesn’t mean you’ve failed, and either call upon discipline to get you going or allow yourself the rest.


SimplyPsychology: Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation: What is the Difference?
Zen Habits: Get Off Your Butt: 16 Ways to Get Motivated when You’re in a Slump.
Brain Craft: How to Stay Motivated, Using Psychology. – YouTube

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