How to Find Your Drive to Succeed

UPDATED: March 1, 2017
PUBLISHED: March 1, 2017

Motivations fuel our actions and decision-making, but few people know how to identify and tap into them. There are two primary types of motivations:

  • Intrinsic: Deeply personal values and beliefs.
  • Extrinsic: Tangible rewards, such as pay, or consequences, such as punishment.

Related: Top of Mind: 7 Ways to Boost Self-Motivation

Intrinsic motivations are the most important and personal drives in a person’s life. Extrinsic motivations are linked to what others expect of you and are therefore less significant. Numerous studies have shown tangible rewards actually undermine feelings of autonomy and decrease motivation.

Here are a few ways you can identify and grow your intrinsic motivations.

1. Meditate.

Meditation allows you to let go of attachments and connect with your inner self.

2. Make a list.

Depending who you ask, there are anywhere from 16 to 24 human motivations—things like freedom, accomplishment and security. One method for discovering what truly drives you is to rank a list of motivations from least to most important.

3. Take a test.

Most personality tests identify characteristics and traits, not motivations. Characteristics and traits represent what you do; motivations are why you do what you do. One exception is the test at Answer 22 questions to identify your top four to five motivations.

No matter what method you choose, knowing your motivations can be the difference between just getting by and thriving.

Related: The Secret to Staying Motivated Is Simpler Than You Think


This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Murphy is a social psychology practitioner and founder of Inside8.