Motivational Theories – Way Forward to Achieving Your Goals

Motivational Theories often help people set and achieve their goals. They have roots in psychology and can provide the inspiration, drive, and ambition necessary to reach objectives and objectives. Goal setting and motivation can be challenging tasks. But with the right approach, you can use these psychological theories to create an action plan and stick to it.

No matter what your goals are, understanding the science behind motivation will help you reach them. “Motivational Theories” are an essential tool for anyone hoping to reach their goals. Whether you want to increase productivity or cultivate a better work-life balance, understanding the different types of motivational theories can be key to success.

From Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Goal Theory and Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory, each approach has its own nuances, complexities, and benefits. With so many options out there, it can be hard to know where to start.

However, these theories give us powerful insights into how we can best motivate ourselves and others to reach our goals. So take some time to learn about these theories, and see how they can help you achieve your ambitions.

1. Overview

Motivation is essential to reaching any goal. From deciding to start a new hobby to achieving a career milestone, it is our motivation that drives us to success. But how can we better understand the different types of motivation and use them to reach our goals? The answer lies in understanding the various theories of motivation, and how they can be applied to goal setting.

From Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to Goal Setting Theory, each of these theories offers unique insights into understanding and enhancing our motivation. A deeper understanding of different theories of motivation, helps us to set and achieve our goals with renewed confidence. With the right motivation and knowledge, goals are always achievable—from the simple to the most ambitious.

Goal-setting motivation is key to success.

2. Maslow’s Hierarchy

As outlined by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there are five different types of motivational theories that can help you reach your goals. These are physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem, and self-actualization. Physiological needs include things like food, water, and shelter – the basics of life. Safety and security needs are those that help humans feel safe and secure, and include things like money, job security, and physical safety.

Hierarchy-of-Needs -Maslow

Belongingness and love needs are those that help us feel connected and included – such as family and friends. Esteem needs are those that help us feel valued and appreciated. Finally, self-actualization needs are those that help us ultimately reach our highest potential. Understanding these different motivational theories can help you reach your goals and realize your potential.

3. Herzberg’s Two-factor

Herzberg’s two-factor theory, developed in the 1950s, is one of the most influential theories of motivation. It states that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction come from separate factors. According to this theory, job satisfaction is an outcome of intrinsic motivators, such as recognition and a sense of accomplishment. The dissatisfaction however is the result of extrinsic motivators, such as working conditions and salary.


This theory is popular in the corporate world. it always invites criticism because it’s too simple an approach. Its feasibility has been challenged by newer studies, such as McClelland’s Theory of Needs. McClelland suggests that motivation results from a variety of different factors, including achievement, power, and affiliation.

Therefore, if you want to reach your goals, it is important to consider all of these theories and take into account their various nuances.

4. McClelland’s Need

Motivation is essential for achieving success in any area, and McClelland’s Need Theory is one of the most studied and understood models for understanding what motivates people. This theory suggests that all individuals have three fundamental needs: a need for achievement, a need for power, and a need for affiliation.

Each of these needs can be satisfied or unmet. Understanding needs influence an individual’s actions is a powerful tool for reaching goals. Furthermore, it is important to note that the need for achievement is the most powerful of the three, and often the most important when striving for success.


Additionally, Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory helps explain how these needs are both satisfied and unfulfilled. This way it provides an even greater understanding of how an individual’s motivation works. With this knowledge, it is possible to create a plan to reach goals quickly and efficiently.

5. Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

Expectancy Theory postulates that an individual’s motivation to perform a task depends on the expectations they have of success. In other words, this theory states that an employee’s motivation to do a job depends on the belief that their effort will lead to a successful outcome.

expectancy - Motivational Theory

This links to Job Characteristics Theory, which suggests that certain job characteristics, such as autonomy and responsibility, can help to increase motivation and performance. With this in mind, it’s clear that understanding the expectations and outcomes of a task is key to motivating yourself to reach your goals.

6. Goal Setting Theory

From the perspective of Goal Setting Theory, motivation is driven by a person’s desire to achieve certain goals. This theory states that a clear goal, combined with the knowledge of how to achieve it, can spark motivation and make it easier to reach it.

Goal-Setting-Motivational Theories

According to this theory, the more challenging the goal is, the more motivated a person is to complete it. Equity Theory additionally proposes that individuals are more likely motivated if they feel their rewards are commensurate with their efforts. By setting realistic and achievable goals, you can ensure that you stay motivated and on the path to success.

7. McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y 

Theory X and Theory Y were first explained by McGregor in his book, “The Human Side of Enterprise,” and they refer to two styles of management – authoritarian (Theory X) and participative (Theory Y). 

Theory X Y Motivation

Theory X: Managers who accept this theory believe that if you feel that your team members dislike their work, have little motivation. Team members then need regular supervision every minute, and are incapable of being accountable for their work. They avoid responsibility and avoid work whenever possible. Managers then need to use an authoritarian style of management. According to McGregor, this approach is very “hands-on”. It usually involves micromanaging people’s work.  

Theory Y: Managers who accept this theory believe that if people are willing to work without supervision, take pride in their work, see it as a challenge, and want to achieve more, they can direct their own efforts, take ownership of their work and do it effectively by themselves. These managers use a decentralized, participative management style.   

8. Alderfer’s ERG Theory

C. P. Alderfer, an American psychologist, developed Maslow’s hierarchy of needs into a theory of his own.  

His theory suggests that there are three groups of core needs: existence (E), relatedness (R), and growth (G). These groups are aligned with Maslow’s levels of physiological needs, social needs, and self-actualization needs, respectively. 

erg-theory of Motivation

Existence needs concern our basic material requirements for living. That is exactly what Maslow categorized as physiological needs such as air, sleep, food, water, clothing, sex, and shelter, and safety-related needs such as health, secure employment, and property. 

Relatedness needs have to do with the importance of maintaining interpersonal relationships. These needs are based on social interactions with others. These are in line with Maslow’s levels of love/belonging-related needs such as friendship, family, and sexual intimacy, and esteem-related needs such as gaining the respect of others. 

Growth needs describe our intrinsic desire for personal development. These needs are similar to the other part of Maslow’s esteem-related needs. The needs such as self-esteem, self-confidence, and achievement, and self-actualization needs such as morality, creativity, problem-solving, and discovery. 


Motivational theories are powerful tools for understanding the complexities of human behavior. These can be used to increase productivity and satisfaction in the workplace. From Maslow to McClelland, these theories provide deep insight into the underlying causes of motivation and how to maximize performance.

With their help, employers can foster an environment that is conducive to success and satisfaction. Motivational Theories also help in building strong relationships between employees, employers, and customers. Ultimately, the goal is to foster a strong, motivated work environment, and motivational theory can help make that happen.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

  • uhayat
  • The author has rich management exposure in banking, textiles, and teaching in business administration.