When was the last time you wanted something very badly? Can you think of what drove you towards wanting that desire? And, if you did eventually achieve it, what were your motivations behind that?
When it comes to chasing after something you want, whether it’s a dream job, the car or house you’ve been dying to own, or even the love of your life, there are many forces that attract you towards that desire. Have a walk down memory lane, and think of the last time you were chasing after something that you eventually got, and think about what you went through to get it. What pushed you to get it?
What’s the Force Behind Your Desires?
Chances are, if you were to look back at your journey towards that achievement, you would realize that at the heart of your motivation was having a specific Purpose. This is the most important driving factor allowing you to be motivated to work hard, or to find for solutions and ways to achieving your ultimate desire.
It’s important to have a purpose or objective, because once you have that meaningful objective, it creates a force that either pushes you forward or pulls you towards it. This push and pull is the basic driving force behind every type of motivation. Motivation can be broken down into two types: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation. Understanding these two types of motivation will give you greater control over your self-motivation.
What is Extrinsic Motivation?
Let’s take a look at Extrinsic Motivation first. This occurs when we’re motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity to earn a reward or avoid punishment. Examples of this sort of motivation include working overtime on a project because you want some form of approval from your boss, or arriving to work on time to avoid being reprimanded by your boss. An extrinsic motivator could also be competing in a contest to win a cash prize or award.
In each of these examples, the behavior is motivated by a desire to gain a reward or avoid an adverse outcome. It’s common for individuals to engage in a behavior not because they enjoy it or find it satisfying, but to get something in return or avoid something unpleasant. This type of motivation is due to an external factor.
What is Intrinsic Motivation?
Now on the other hand, Intrinsic Motivation involves engaging in a behavior because it is personally rewarding. So in this case, you’re now doing an activity for its own sake rather than the desire for some external reward or factor. So this could be wanting to play your favorite songs on the guitar, or watching a comedy at the cinema.
These behaviors are motivated by internal desire. In other words, the behavior itself is the reward, and doesn’t have to be supplied by an external source. Intrinsic motivation occurs when we act without any obvious external rewards. We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize our potentials.
When was the last time you did something simply for the enjoyment of the activity itself?
What’s the Difference Between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation?
The key difference between Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation is that Extrinsic Motivation relies on an external reward or penalty, whereas Intrinsic Motivation rewards the behavior itself. If you now go back to think about the desires or achievements that you had in the past, were they extrinsically or intrinsically motivated?
The reason why many fail to find sustained drive is because they rely a lot on External Motivation. If you want to have long term and sustainable motivation, you really need more of it to be driven by Intrinsic Motivation. Why is that?
The answer is simple. Extrinsic Motivation relies on external rewards or penalties. Once that reward or penalty is gone, this source of motivation will disappear. Also, external rewards or penalties are always finite, and you’re usually not in control of them.
On the other hand, with Intrinsic Motivation — the activity itself is already the reward. So its supply of “motivation fuel” can virtually be unlimited if nurtured properly.
How to Maximize Intrinsic Motivation?
Now that you know the importance of Intrinsic Motivation, the next step would be to maximize it and make it sustainable. As I mentioned earlier, Intrinsic Motivation is the key to long term, sustainable objectives. But, just having a meaningful objective is not enough. To make the most out of it, you have to nurture your Intrinsic Motivation.
It’s important to do so because Intrinsic Motivation can have diminishing returns. For example, you’re feeling thirsty, the weather is warm and you really just want to drink a can of Coke. It’d be great if you could have a coke in hand. Once you have it, it’s so satisfying drinking it. But, imagine I give you a second can, then a third can, and how about a fourth one? Your satisfaction will eventually diminish and you might even get sick of it. So this law of diminishing return occurs everywhere, even for our Intrinsic Motivation.
How can you Increase Intrinsic Motivation?
Before you can begin nurturing your Intrinsic Motivation, it’s good to know the factors that make up Intrinsic Motivation. This will equip you to level up on your Intrinsic Motivation better.
The first factor is Challenge. It’s important to set a challenge in your objectives. Then the process of attaining that goal is seen as possible, but not necessarily certain. This way when you eventually overcome every obstacle to achieve that goal, that directly increases your self -esteem.
The second factor to maximizing Intrinsic Motivation, is having Curiosity. This is when something in the physical environment grabs your attention (sensory curiosity) or when the activity stimulates you to want to learn more (cognitive curiosity).
The third factor is Control. This is the ability to have greater control over yourself and/or your environment so that you can determine what you pursue.
4. Cooperation and Competition
Lastly, we have Cooperation and Competition. This is the satisfaction that you gain from helping others, or pursuing a shared goal through mutual support and camaraderie.
It could also be the excitement and satisfaction from putting your skills and performance against others, and using it as a yardstick to push your own progress.
Nurture Your Intrinsic Motivation
Now that you know the main factors contributing to Intrinsic Motivation, you can focus on nurturing each factor to level up your Intrinsic Motivation. How can you maximize on each factor to increase your Intrinsic motivation when pursuing after something?
Once you’ve nurtured your Intrinsic Motivation, you’ll start to rely less on Extrinsic Motivations and you’ll find that your perseverance and drive to achieve something becomes much more enhanced.
You will find greater autonomy and independence too, knowing that you need not rely on external sources for acknowledgement, recognition or rewards. This in itself will already be very satisfying.
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