When I was a kid, I used to love studying. I'm not the character from movies, who complains about being pushed. I wanted to out do myself all the time and enjoy the process(I found other things to enjoy in college so if anyone is going to comment on my college grades, beware, I'll bite)
The motivation for a lot of it was the appreciation I'd get on annual day or from one of my teachers if things went well. In college, things were quite impersonal. But my friends and my peers really helped me grow in areas I never thought I would. As I started working however(after my first bad manager rather) I realized, nobody is going to cheer me on consistently except myself. I'm not talking about self promotion here, which I find quite annoying.
I'm actually talking about taking stock of life and saying, this is good, you are awesome in the mirror. This process is tricky because you really need to know yourself well, see improvements for actual improvements and not fall for things which might not be improvements.
After a little trial, I realized I was very very hard on myself. I never met my own expectations. I relaxed a bit after a point, and became my own cheerleader. It's been a very liberating experience. Nobody can know me as well as I know myself and becoming my best friend and worst critic has truly helped me evolve and correct myself.
I'm not saying that others don't cheer me or stand by me, but that I'm always there for myself. It helps me stay sane, motivate myself and keep my drive alive. It also prevents me from going down a rabbit hole when things don't go well in the traditional sense.