What Motivates People To Struggle For Change?

Before diving into what motivates people to want to struggle for change, let us first have a brief look at what motivation is and how it arises.

Motivation is the change in behavior sparked by the desire to achieve a goal. It drives you to take action to accomplish your desired outcome. It may arise internally or externally.

Internal or intrinsic motivation emerges from the need for personal satisfaction, curiosity and interest, and the desire to see things through. There are no apparent rewards to intrinsic motivation, but intrinsic motivation itself feels rewarding.

External or extrinsic motivation arises from the need to receive a reward such as a trophy upon winning and to avoid missing a deadline. It triggers reward-driven behavior. The task itself may not be enjoyable, but the reward’s appeal is enough to carry through it.

Self-Determination Theory of Motivation 

According to Self-determination theory, intrinsic motivation is more important in causing long-term change. The theory emerged from the 1985 book Self-Determination and Intrinsic Motivation in Human Behavior by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. The theory put forward two assumptions:

The first assumption of the theory says that people are inherently driven toward growth and are willing to take on challenges and experiences to build upon their abilities.

The second assumption emphasizes the need to gain knowledge, connection, competence, and independence as drivers of internal motivation that lead to change.

The change stimulated by intrinsic motivation is long-lasting and sustainable, whereas the change brought about by extrinsic motivation is fleeting and can feel unsatisfactory.

A combination of internal and external factors in life motivates people to struggle for change.

Some Factors Of What Motivates People To Struggle For Change?

some factors of What Motivates People To Struggle For Change?

As I have mentioned above, intrinsic and extrinsic factors work in cohorts to provide you with the motivation to change. These include:


It is the faith you have in yourself as a person and your skills to take the correct course of actions necessary to win a particular situation. It does not reflect the strength of your actions but rather your belief in them. Our beliefs in our ability to win a problem determine how we think, behave, and feel about ourselves.

Most people in this world are aware of their challenges and goals in life, but not everyone knows how to address the challenges and what actions they would need to undertake to attain their goals.

Winning a situation helps us improve our sense of self-efficacy. Having role models of people accomplishing a similar goal can build up your sense of self-efficacy. However, facing a failure can somewhat weaken it. Our emotional state and mood can also affect our confidence in our abilities.

Nevertheless, people with a strong sense of self-efficacy exhibit a few characteristics in common:

  • A particular interest in their goal.
  • Deep commitment to their interests.
  • Upon facing a failure, they bounce back quickly.
  • A desire to gain mastery and expertise over a challenging situation.

Personal Recognition

Being recognized and rewarded for your work satisfies intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Having the challenges, you faced acknowledged and the milestones you reached celebrated pushes you to move forward and stay motivated. It builds your self-esteem and inner drive, making you more committed to striving for change.

A support system that recognizes your accomplishments and reminds you of them is of significant importance when suffering from a weakened sense of self-efficacy that results from a failure.


These are your dreams and ambitions to accomplish a goal. Your aspirations confer you a sense of purpose and direction.

Aspirations can be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic aspirations include desiring to contribute to a social cause, fostering new and healthy relationships, and learning a new skill such as painting or music. Extrinsic aspirations look like wishing to earn a large amount of money or gain fame.

A person can have both intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations, such as trying to earn a handsome amount of salary to provide a good life for your family.

You may not be sure what your aspirations are, but if you are determined to have a purpose in life and stay motivated to pursue them, you can build aspirations in several ways:

  • Think about whether there is a particular thing that makes you excited and that you wish to accomplish someday.
  • There is no need to figure out your aspirations at once. Take your fair share of time to collect the information you need to understand better the roadmap to achieve them. Assess yourself to find out where you stand on that roadmap. Allow yourself to learn and grow.
  • Do not compare your aspirations with other people’s. What motivates other people does not necessarily encourage you either.
  • Talk to a healthcare professional if you struggle to develop interests in anything or if you no longer feel excited about an aspiration that once used to add meaning and purpose to life. Depression and anxiety can affect your ability to feel motivated about your dreams.

Emotional Discomfort

When people find themselves in stagnant situations that make them realize that their current approach to their aspirations and goals is not working, they begin to feel emotional discomfort. Their emotional distress makes them want to devise a solution and get out of that situation. The desire to avoid feeling this discomfort again helps keep people motivated.

For instance, a student who scored a low CGPA in her semester exam can remember and use this discomforting experience to work harder in the next semester and avoid feeling emotional pain. She remains motivated to stay consistent in her hard work.


Having a particular goal in life can also motivate you to change your life. You develop the will to learn and grow.

You acquire a goal at a point in life, and you know that to achieve that goal, you will have to be at a different point in life later.

Your desire to get to that other point in life fuels you up with the motivation to create an action plan to help you accomplish the goal.

You can start by formulating short-term goals. Work on achieving them first. Small wins from the short-term goals will also add up to your motivation.

You should be aware that you are going to make mistakes. But look at mistakes as an opportunity to learn and improve yourself.

You might need to earn higher education, learn a new skill, polish an old skill, and eliminate unyielding habits to improve yourself.

Hitting rock bottom in life

Rock bottom is a place no one wants to visit. But life isn’t always so kind and considerate. We all get thrown down that place at some point in life.

But you want to get out of that awful place as fast as possible. You must be honest with yourself to initiate the process of getting your life back together. You need to realize how much of it was caused by your own actions and how much was out of your control.

Holding yourself accountable is difficult at first, but you must stick down this path because it is what allows you to change genuinely. We often underestimate the role we play in our suffering.

You can use your suffering as the perfect opportunity to get back up and enact change.

A Boring, Old, Stagnant Life

Sometimes, your life can fall into a boring routine. You do not face any challenges or difficulties, but you also do not have anything meaningful to aspire to.

Eventually, you get tired and fed up with this unexciting life and wish to change it.

You can pave a whole new path for yourself by figuring out your aspirations and goals. You can take on new challenges and opportunities.

Learn to speak a new language, practice playing the guitar that you once adored but gave up due to the business of life, and cook food for the homeless.

Maybe you are tired of your job and want to switch your career and turn your life around completely. It is a perfectly reasonable factor to want to change. 

A Happy Life

It is human nature to want to live a meaningful and happy life. Humans have been striving to decode how to live a truly happy life.

Due to this inherent nature, humans are constantly questioning their life decisions and whether the choices they make for themselves keep them happy and satisfied. This intrinsic desire to look for happiness in everything you do motivates you to change for the better.

It is not easy to acknowledge that your current life is not making you happy. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. But being truthful about the quality of your life will motivate you to improve it in the long run.

How Can You Motivate People To Change?

What Motivates People To Struggle For Change?

You must be surrounded by people around you who are striving to change but lack the game plan to figure out how.

You can affect the lives of people to change for the better by assisting them in accomplishing their goals as a friend, partners, teachers, or parental figures.

People will not be as open to accepting your help as you expect. They will doubt your intentions or credibility. Some may feel embarrassed to take from others to sort out their lives. You will need to first develop their trust in yourself by putting your most authentic and sincere self in front of them.

Here are some of the ways you can motivate a person to change:

Be An Example

To motivate people to change, you will have to present yourself as an example to them. 

If you are a professor at a university and want to motivate your students to become good researchers in the future, you can lead them by your example. Show them the effort you put into conducting comprehensive research before initiating a research project of your own and assembling and organizing the most up-to-date syllabus before starting a class for a new semester. 

Let them intern for you on your research project or assist you in university. They will get hands-on experience that will help them understand the magnitude of effort to become successful academics and researchers. 

Seeing things first-hand will also give them a clear-cut idea of how they can manage their prospective journeys into the future.

Help Them Begin With The End In Mind

Help people figure out their goals in life, the ultimate way to motivate people for a substantial change.

But a mog-term goal can often overwhelm people and discourage them from pursuing it. Help people devise smaller short-term goals whose results can be achieved and measured in the near future while putting in a manageable effort.

If you want to help your high school kid get into a prestigious university in the future, allow them to formulate daily short-term goals that they can accomplish per day. Teach them to allot some of their time per day to study for their school work to keep their grades up while also investing an hour per day in studying for SAT, practicing writing a statement of purpose, and doing community service to enhance their application.

Some days, they may not be able to follow through on the short-term goals. Tell them that is also all right and how they can pick it up where they left off.

Foster Healthier Habits

A great way to keep up the motivation to change is by helping people be consistent in the efforts they are required to invest into achieving their desired outcome.

Encourage people to turn their daily tasks into habits. For instance, if your spouse is trying to live an active life, help them to get up early every day before work and exercise.

Repetition of a task increases the probability of your desired outcome.

Give Positive Feedback

Receiving encouraging feedback makes people more dedicated to a goal. Positive criticism is especially effective at motivating people to change.

You should also adjust your words of encouragement according to the person’s stage of change. Positive reinforcement is useful when people are initially beginning to alter their behavior because it increases their sense of commitment to the aim they wish to pursue.

After some time, people start to question their own beliefs and their overall dedication from their goals to their level of progress. This is where negative feedback comes into play and serves as a reminder of the gap between where they are now and where they would like to go.

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, while intrinsic factors are necessary to motivate people to enact a permanent, long-lasting change in their lives and extrinsic factors for accomplishing short-term goals, a combination of both motivates people to change and bring about a meaningful difference in their lives. 

Humans’ inherent nature to gain independence, make connections, and become competent can be exploited to motivate them for a constructive and worthwhile change, whether it benefits them individually or society as a whole.

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