There’s a lot of talk about motivation. From Motivational quotes to motivational speakers to articles about how to stay motivated. It seems like motivation is the holy grail of success. But is it? What is motivation vs consistency, and is one better than the other in enabling us to achieve our goals and become successful? Are super successful people more motivated than us mere mortals or is there something else going on? 

What is Motivation

Before we delve into motivation vs consistency, let’s get on the same page about motivation.

Motivation is your why, it’s the reason you do the things you do. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, learn a language, or trying to save money, there’s always a reason and that reason is your motivation. Motivation is the driver of human behavior. It’s what instigates people to pursue certain goals and also what can help them to maintain the behaviors and actions required to accomplish the goal. 

Understanding your motivation and other people’s motivations is beneficial because when you know what’s driving someone, including yourself, you know how to encourage them to keep going and how to inspire them to take action, something businesses and brands know a lot about. 

But our motivation isn’t always clear from our actions. Two peopl exactly the same thing but for totally different reasons, because they have different motivations.

Different Types of Motivation, Intrinsic, Extrinsic Plus a Third

Two types of motivation that you’ve probably heard of are intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. 

Someone who is intrinsically motivated has an internally arising driver. They want to do something based on internal factors, such as feelings of accomplishment, security, or a sense of creativity.  For example, an athlete wanting to beat their personal best, someone wanting to read 52 books in a year fheir own sense of achievement, or an amateur artist who does it just for creative expression. 

Extrinsic motivation on the other hand is the motivation that comes from an outside factor. Examples of some extrinsic motivating factors include recognition, receiving an award, praise, money, or wanting to fit into a specific outfit. 

Companies know the power of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. According to studies, most job satisfaction inventories measure both intrinsic rewards and external rewards (e.g., recognition and working conditions). Job-enrichment efforts, however, typically involve changes in the work environment that increase the intrinsic rewards of the job.

But research also suggests that there’s a third type of motivation, family motivation.

Family motivation is neither intrinsic nor extrinsic. Instead, it is when someone is motivated to do something purely because it will benefit and support their family. A common example of this is someone who works at a job tto order to support their family financially. 

How to Stay Motivated 

So how do you stay motivated? And why do we lose motivation in the first place? 

The 3 Key aspects of motivation to consider

According to an article in Very Well Mind,  scientists have identified 3 key components of motivation. 

  1. Activation: This is the initial initiation of the behavior. It’s the first step you take towards a specific goal 
  2. Persistence: This is the continued effort of working towards your goal, regardless of any obstacles that may arise 
  3. Intensity: This is the vigor and energy with which you pursue the goal. It’s how passionately you work towards your goal

The strength of each of these areas will determine whether or not you achieve your goal and how far you get. For example, if you have a string activation but low persistence, you’re probably someone with lots of unfinished projects. You’re excited and energized to start, but you lose momentum and maybe even interest along the way so you don’t accomplish the goal. 

But however high the intensity of the activation, if you’re not persistent, you won’t achieve the goal. 

Why Do We Lose Motivation 

Some of the reasons that we lose motivation include: 

Your goals are too big: 

Working on goals that are too big will make you feel overwhelmed. When this happens, it’s understandable that your motivation dwindles. To avoid overwhelm, make sure you break down goals into small enough steps which feel more achievable. As you complete each small step, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and your motivation will increase. 

Lack of confidence 

Another reason you might struggle to stay motivated and achieve your goals is that you lack confidence in some areas. It might be that you want to be promoted, but you know that getting the promotion means taking on certain responsibilities which require skills that you don’t yet possess. 

Improve your confidence by upskilling yourself and also remind yourself of all the strengths and skills you do have. Work to make them even stronger. Ask for support or seek out a mentor, because research suggests that a lack of confifinitely linked to low motivation. 

Lack of knowledge 

Lack of understanding or knowledge leads to a lack of confidence. Make sure you develop the skills to order to achieve your goals. This will ensure you feel more confident about your ability to achieve your goals, which will help you stay motivated. 

You’re working on the wrong goals

It’s hard to stay motivated when working on the wrong goals. You need to be sure that your goals are your own and that your not trying to do things because you think you should or for the wrong reasons. 

Even when you’re working on company goals, there’s always a way to tie this back to sg that’s important to you. For example, that pay rise, recognition, a promotion or simply being a supportive colleague. Remind yourself of these things.

You believe in quick fixes 

Let’s face it, we all wish that we could achieve our goals overnight. Unfortunately, everything takes time and most things take a lot of time. So if you’re looking for a quick fix then you’ll lose motivation fast. 

You keep comparing yourself to others 

We’ve already talked about how a lack of confidence causes a loss of motivation. Something that creates an intense amount of self-doubt and makes your confidence suffer is comparing yourself to others. 

It’s natural to notice what other people are doing, but harshly judging yourself against other people constantly is another way to ensure you lose motivation. 

There’s a reason they say you should keep your blinkers on while working toward your goals. There will always be someone who’s further ahead, but that shouldn’t be your focus. 

It’s all or nothing 

Having an all-or-nothing approach to achieving your goals will also cause you to lose motivation and can even stop you from working on your goals. 

When you have an all-or-nothing approach, you discount what you’ve achieved when it isn’t the exact thing you’d hoped for. 

For example, you might be getting fitter and stronger, but because the scales don’t read the number you want, you give up all your healthy habits. Or, you might wish to reach a certain skill level by a specific date, but it turns out to be harder to learn the new skill than you’d expected, the date rolls around and you feel like a failure. 

If you want to stay motivated, you need to stop this all-or-nothing approach. Recognize all the good work you’ve done and appreciate your achievements.

You’re not being flexible

Things aren’t always going to go according to plan. If you approach your goals in this way then you’re more likely to be ready to adapt and change your approach when the initial approach isn’t working. A lack of flexibility can lead to a loss of motivation since you won’t allow yourself to see any other ways to move forwards.

It may be that you need to adjust your approach or simply be more realistic about your timeframes. Either way, It’s better to be flexible about your methods and rigid about your goals. 


An all-or-nothing approach is linked to perfectionism, which is another reason you might lose motivation. Nothing is ever perfect, there will always be ways you can improve something. When you try to make things perfect, you end up demotivating yourself and even doubting yourself.

Remember that sometimes, done is always better than perfect. Good might be the enemy of great, but perfection is the enemy of progress. 

Lack of a plan

Finally, however, motivated you are at the start, and however persistent you are, without a clear plan you’ll either end up going round in circles, feeling lost and confused or things will take longer than necessary. All these things can cause you to lose motivation. 

Avoid this situation by setting out a plan. You can always change and adapt it as you progress. 

Motivation vs Consistency, Which is Better for Success?

What is Consistency

While motivation is what drives you to do something, consistency is how regular and steady you are in your actions. 

While you might think it’s about doing something every day, day in and day out, in fact, you could do something once or twice a week and still be consistent. As long as every week, you showed up and did the thing at the same time without fail. 

So consistency is about doing things in a similar way on a set cadence/schedule. But it’s also about being regular and steady in your approach. For example, someone who always helps their coworkers and goes the extra mile could also be described as being consistent in these types of behaviors. 

Reliable people are seen as reliable because they are consistent in their behavior. 

Motivation vs Consistency 

Consistency is about action, persistent and continued action. 

Motivation is about the desire to get started and having the drive and keep going. Clearly, you can be motivated to get started but lose motivation along the way, and ultimately not accomplish your goal.

On the other hand, if you’re consistent with your actions when working towards your goals, you will get there. 

The Benefits of Consistency vs Motivation

It’s not hard to see the benefits of being consistent vs motivated.

  • You feel a sense of accomplishement
  • You become more confident
  • You achieve more of your goals
  • People trust you

Someone who consistently eats healthily and works out will be in good health and good shape 

If you consistently write, then you’re writing skills will improve dramatically compared to someone who’s not writing consistently. 

Brands who advertise consistently stay top of mind and are very well recognized vs brands who don’t 

And someone who consistently puts in an hour a day to learn a new skill will improve faster than someone who only works on it now and again. 

Being consistent leads to results. 

And the more often you take action, the faster you’ll achieve the desired results. 

Motivation can be difficult to sustain. Staying motivated is hard, with lots of potential pitfalls as we’ve already covered. 

So rather than focusing on an overall goal and trying to stay motivated to work towards it, creating a plan of action with a consistent schedule might be a better approach.

This looks like focusing on: 

  • Waking up every morning at 5 am to put in an hour of work on your side hustle 
  • Going to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 8 pm 
  • Drinking a liter of water by 9 am every morning 
  • Reading every day from 9 pm or better still reading 20 pages a day. 

 From these examples, you can see that consistency is about action while motivation is about desire. 

You need the motivation to get you started, it’s what drives you to want to do something, but when it comes to achieving your goals consistency trumps motivation every day of the week. Because some days you won’t feel motivated, but if you are consistent you’ll still take action even if you don’t feel like it. 

Consistency and Habits 

One of the biggest benefits of being consistent is that it increases the chances of habit formation, especially when you’re doing something more regularly ( daily instead of weekly for example). 

Once you build a habit, things get easier because the action becomes second nature. You no longer have to think about waking up at 5 am, instead you just do, maybe even without an alarm. You no longer have to force yourself to go for that workout, your body and your mind expect it and want it.

Habits and consistency are interlinked, when things are a habit, you will be consistent with them, but like the chicken and egg, to build a habit, you first need to be consistent. 

How to Be More Consistent

“We are what we repeatedly do.” — Aristotle

Now you know that being consistent can get you results while building your reputation along the way, how can you be more consistent? 

Accept that you won’t always feel like doing things, but commit to taking action

The world is back to front. Most of the time, you have to do things you don’t want to do and feel discomfort to get where you want to go. So accept it. 

Remember that the discomfort is temporary, but rewards are lasting

To help you remember you could use a vision board or use mantras and affirmations or read, listen to or watch motivational content 

[Related: 50 Powerful Daily Affirmations For Confidence And Self-Esteem ]

[Related: 39 Know Your Worth Quotes For When You Doubt Your Worth]

Have a morning routine 

They say how you start your day is how you end your day. By having a consistent morning routine, it’s more likely that you’ll be consistent in other areas of your life 

Take action in the morning 

I tend to find that the things I always do in the morning always get done. On the other hand, as the day goes on, I’m more likely to move things around or not do things 

[Related: 25 Things To Do Before 9AM For An Incredible Morning Routine]

Be specific 

Continuing with the example of working out, rather than planning to work out every day, plan to work out at the same time every day. 

Decide to be a consistent person 

In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen R. Covey introduces the concept of being a “principled” person. When you are a principled person, you do things, not because you have to, or for some reward, but because this is who you are, this is the identity you hold for yourself. 

Start to think of yourself as someone who is consistent and you’re more likely to behave accordingly. 

Use technology 

Whether it’s setting schedules, automating tasks, or setting alarms to drink water, technology can be a great help when you’re trying to be more consistent 

Start small 

Build up your consistency muscle by starting small. Instead of planning to read 30 pages a day, it’s ok to read 10. Instead of planning to learn a language for 1 hour a day, start with 15 minutes. 

Eventually taking consistent action will be a breeze as it becomes a habit. 

This is fantastic news for long-term goals like learning languages, saving, building a business, or learning complex skills. 

According to research forming a new habit can take anywhere from 18 days to 254 days depending on the habit and environment. 


Now you know the power of consistency vs motivation use this to your advantage. When creating a plan to achieve your goals, break things down into small, regular ( ideally daily) consistent actions, and then focus all your energy on being consistent. Maybe even forget about the goal, because the truth is, with consistency you’ll get there anyway. 

More articles on motivation:

How To Overcome lack of Motivation And Stop Holding Yourself Back

How To Stay Motivated And Productive When You’re Unemployed

10 Simple Ways To Stop Procrastinating (+Get The Important Things Done)