The 4 C’s of Self-Motivation

“I can do this! I have the ability to make it work and I know that this is going to be worth it!” Is this your initial reaction to all of the tasks and opportunities life sends your way? If it is, then that is great because it means that you feel competent enough to know that you deserve the success you chase; it also means that you are one step closer to becoming a self-motivated individual.

Simply defined, self-motivation is the ability to complete a task without the influence or encouragement from others (businessdictionary). According to Scott Geller, a behavioral psychologist, there are 4 C’s needed to fuel self-motivation. These 4 C’s are consequences, choice, competence, and community.

No one wants to face failure. The fear of failure results in people choosing to stay in their comfort zones and not even giving some things a try. This is because they fear the negative consequences that come with not finding success in the completion of a specific goal, not in the work put towards that goal.

This takes us to the next “C” of self-motivation, choice. People have the power to choose how they view tasks in their daily lives, as opportunities or as burdens. Taking a fear-based approach will result in worrying about the possible negative consequences of one’s actions. It may also make people feel like they don’t have control over their decisions. In contrast, taking a more optimistic approach and looking at tasks as opportunities and experiences will make people “success-seekers”. The key is to say “I get to do this!” instead of saying, “Ugh, I have to do this.”. With this mindset, people tend to have a stronger belief in their abilities, which leads them to feel competent enough for any task handed to them.

Lastly, the support from a community is a necessary component in fueling one’s self-motivation. This may seem like a contradicting idea because of the very word “self” before motivation, but it is, in fact, important. Although it is good to be independent in this day and age, people tend to forget that a little bit of moral or emotional support can go a long, long way. Having a community of supportive and encouraging people helps individuals better themselves and gain several different perspectives on issues. Because of this, one should aim for interdependence rather than independence alone. Furthermore, we are happier and more motivated when we surround ourselves with such people.



Zou, Winnie W. Ted Talk: The Psychology of Self-Motivation by Scott Geller. 8 Mar. 2015,

Marapas, Vasiliki. “The Psychology of Self-Motivation.”, TREND HUNTER Inc., 22 Oct. 2014,

TedTalk Link:

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