Self-motivation is easy to understand when you consider some examples that contrast it with other kinds of motivation:
- A man who goes to work every only as a means to pay the bills, keep his family off his back, and please his boss is not self-motivated, while a man who needs no external forces to make the trek into work every day and finds fulfillment in what he does is self-motivated;
- The student who only completes her homework because her parents remind her or nag her, or because they ground her when she fails to complete it is not self-motivated, but the student who completes her homework with no prodding because she wants to learn and succeed in school is self-motivated;
- The woman who only goes to the gym when her friends drag her there or because her doctor is adamant that she needs to exercise to get healthy is not self-motivated, but the woman who likes the way exercise makes her feel and schedules time at the gym whether or not anyone encourages her is self-motivated.
As you can see, self-motivation is all about where your drive comes from; if your motivation comes from within and pushes you to achieve for your own personal reasons, it can be considered self-motivation.
If you are only motivated to achieve standards set by someone else and not for your own internal satisfaction, you are probably not self-motivated.
It’s possible to be self-motivated in some areas and not in others. For example, if the man from the first example is not internally motivated to go to work but is sure to make time for his marathon training, he is not self-motivated when it comes to work but might be self-motivated to run.