When you're young, it almost always feels like motivation is at arm's length doesn't matter which way you turn. As time ticks away and days become years, it seems like it becomes farther and farther out of reach.

I for one have always been a self-motivated individual. Whether I was mowing lawns at 7 years old for pocket money, learning to build computers out of second-hand parts, breaking archery records, competing in golf tournaments, or starting a business. I always set my mind to something and I was able to achieve that thing without external motivators.

However, that which I've found easy for myself, over the years became apparent wasn't as easy for others.

Achievement and recognition are fundamental human needs, often driving us to work hard and achieve our goals. However, the way we seek validation for our efforts can significantly impact our personal growth and overall satisfaction. In this article, we will explore the differences between self-motivation and external validation.


Self-motivation is the intrinsic drive that comes from within oneself to accomplish goals and feel a sense of achievement. It relies on setting personal benchmarks and constantly striving to surpass them. This internal validation process can be incredibly empowering and helps to build a strong foundation for personal growth and development.

Pros of Self-Motivation:

Independence: Relying on self-motivation grants you the independence to set your own standards and pursue your passions without being overly influenced by external opinions.

Consistency: Self-motivated individuals tend to be more consistent in their efforts, as they derive satisfaction from the journey and progress, rather than from external accolades.

Resilience: In times of adversity or when facing criticism, self-motivated individuals are better equipped to stay focused and continue their journey, as they are not solely reliant on external validation.

Intrinsic Satisfaction: Self-motivation fosters a deeper sense of fulfillment, as the satisfaction of achieving personal goals comes from within.

Cons of Self-Motivation:

Subjectivity: While self-motivation provides freedom, it can also lead to subjectivity, where personal biases might prevent individuals from acknowledging flaws or areas of improvement.

Accountability: Without external validation, individuals might lack external feedback and accountability, which can hinder growth and learning.

External Validation:

External validation involves seeking recognition and praise from others for our accomplishments. It often stems from the desire to be acknowledged, accepted, and respected by our peers or society at large. While external validation can be a powerful source of encouragement, it can also have some drawbacks.

Pros of External Validation:

Boosting Confidence: Receiving praise and recognition from others can significantly boost one's confidence and sense of self-worth.

Social Reinforcement: External validation can provide social reinforcement, fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance within a community.

Professional Advancement: In certain fields, external validation in the form of awards, certifications, or promotions can lead to career advancement.

Cons of External Validation:

Dependence: Relying solely on external validation can lead to a constant need for approval, making individuals susceptible to self-doubt and anxiety when it is not received.

Shallow Fulfillment: Depending entirely on external validation can lead to shallow satisfaction, as the joy of achievement becomes contingent on the opinions of others.

Fear of Rejection: The fear of rejection and criticism from others might deter individuals from pursuing their passions or taking risks.


Both self-motivation and external validation play crucial roles in shaping our journeys toward success and personal growth. While self-motivation provides a strong foundation for resilience and intrinsic satisfaction, external validation can offer much-needed encouragement and recognition from the world around us.

A healthy balance between self-motivation and external validation is essential. By finding internal fulfillment through self-motivation while also appreciating external praise and recognition, individuals can achieve greater fulfillment and success in their endeavors. Understanding the pros and cons of each approach can empower individuals to strike this balance and make the most of their hard work and achievements. Remember, the most profound validation comes from within yourself, as your passion and dedication drive you toward greatness.

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