Last Updated on June 1, 2021

Do You Know Your Motivation Style?

Do You Know Your Motivation Style?

Every now and then, we struggle to find the motivation to do anything in life. There are quick bursts of motivation, but it eventually runs out and you begin to fall behind.

What I tell people who struggle with motivation is this: you can’t just focus on motivation. You need to focus on your motivation style to figure out the best way to stay motivated. Knowing what your motivation style is is the key to perpetual motivation.

Why Knowing Your Motivation Styles Is Important

I’ll go into detail of what these styles are in a moment, but first, why is knowing your motivation styles so important? Here are some benefits and reasons that are worth knowing about:

  • Change our behavior – Depending on the motivation you’re using it’ll alter your mindset. Where one motivation style could discourage you long-term, another could give you deep personal meaning and push you forward.
  • A deeper sense of satisfaction – Your motivational style will push you to be setting the goals you care most about. This translates to satisfaction as you have the motivation to complete the goals that you care most about.
  • Grows your interest – If you have no motivation, you’re not going to spend time on it. Having the right motivation means dwelling on something that helps you build interest in that area.
  • Develop traits that serve you – Goals are all about habit building and when you have the motivation to go through these, you’re developing traits. These traits will help you in that specific situation, but they can be used in other scenarios.

Knowing your motivation styles gives you a better sense of self-awareness. You’ll be able to identify problems and find the motivation to push through them and persist.

Do You Know Your Motivation Style?

You may have multiple motivation styles that work for you. By having several styles available to you, you could leverage motivation from several sources to reinforce habits.

To help you figure out your motivation style, we’ve got a convenient and free assessment What’s Your Motivation Style? to help you.

With this Motivation Style Assessment, not only do you get a clear idea of what styles suit you but you will learn how to leverage your motivation styles to always stay motivated. The assessment will provide you with a detailed analysis for all the motivation styles, and you can easily identify your primary and secondary motivation styles so you know which ones to rely on more. Take the assessment here for free.


Now that you’re ready, let’s dive deep into each of the motivation styles.

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation

But before getting into the specific styles, there are two core types of motivation that are essential to understand: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Understanding these types of motivation will help because you’ll have a better grasp of when to use one over the other.

Extrinsic motivation is also known as external motivation – motivation that’s coming from around you. Examples are Youtube videos, motivational speakers, posters or articles that inspire you. Anything from the outside that impacts your motivation is extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is the opposite. It’s internal motivation and is believed to be the superior motivation since it’s all coming from within. One of the prime examples of internal motivation is having a why or a specific attitude toward your goals.

Both of these motivations are crucial – regardless of one being supposedly better than the other. There are specific situations where these types of motivation can shine and are not without their own shortcomings.

The 8 Motivation Styles

From those two major types of motivations comes the motivation styles that I’ve been talking about.

Intrinsic Motivation

1. Physiological

This motivational style happens beyond our own explanation. This type of motivation is primal and something that we can’t ignore no matter how hard we try. This type of motivation is highly situational and you’ll likely find it in covering your basic needs.


Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory explains that and is a good example of this motivation at work. The theory states that we’re all motivated to cover our basic needs like food and shelter but also those higher-level psychological needs and self-fulfillment. We all have this type of motivation from the start.

2. Achievement

This type of motivation stems from the achievement of a task or a goal itself. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re motivated solely by the reward that comes with it. Instead, you find motivation through the process, you take joy and find self-motivation by going through the steps and making progress little or big.

An example of this is losing weight. Someone who is achievement motivated is someone who takes joy in stepping on the scale and seeing they dropped a few pounds. They might not be at their target weight goal yet, but the initial loss in weight is inspiring.

3. Attitude

Another form of intrinsic motivation is attitude motivation. It’s the type of motivation that is cultivated by your desire to change the way you or others think and feel. Those who are motivated in this fashion excel at engaging in actions and interactions in order to embolden those around them, providing words and actions that make others feel better or uplifting.

An example of this is motivational speakers. For those around them, it’s all external motivation. But that positive and uplifting feeling is something that compels the motivational speaker to get on stage, shoot videos, and provide motivational content in the first place.

4. Competence & Learning

Also called learning motivation, its motivation leans further into the process than the reward. Think of it as achievement motivation but all they care about is the process and learning aspect.

This type of motivation is all about getting better and finding motivation by moving the needle of progress towards completing your goal or task. The destination is nice, but it’s not the main reason for what you are doing.


Out of the intrinsic motivation styles around, this is the most valuable one. It’s the type of motivation you’ll experience when you’re working towards any goal or task. Every bit of progress you make will bolster you. Again, it’s similar to losing that couple of pounds on the scale. Other examples are being half done writing up reports or a school paper.

Extrinsic Motivation

5. Incentive

Moving to extrinsic motivation, the most prominent one you’ve probably heard about is incentive motivation. What this means is that you find motivation in the results or rewards rather than in the process or completing the goal or task.

A good example of this is signing up to participate in a marathon because you want to win. You’ll train hard every day so that you have higher odds of winning. Another one is studying for a test because you want to have the highest mark in the class.

6. Fear

Fear motivation is finding motivation in driving yourself into fear or in an uncomfortable position. Because of this nature, the external influence is going to be something negative, but effective. An example of this is that you’ll find the ability to work overtime because the fear of not being able to pay for your bills will cause you unease. The fear of what your inability to pay can provide you with enough motivation to push forward.

You can also twist it into a positive light. For example, say your family has a history of heart problems. That fact can lead you to work out more frequently and maintaining a healthy body.

7. Power

Those who are motivated by power are people who are motivated by having control over their own lives and can be extended to others as well. Everyone wants to be able to make choices and if you’re given more options to pick and choose, you’ll find this motivation manifesting in your life.

An example of this motivation is given the option of what kind of school or career you’d like to pursue. This provides power motivation since it requires you to be intentional with your thoughts and actions and allow you to manifest the life you want to lead.


8. Affiliation & Social

The final motivation style is affiliation and social motivation. This sort of motivation is something that is innately in us as it’s motivation that stems from our desire to connect and contribute to a social group.

Diving deeper into this, you will find motivation stemming from this to revolve around your desire to be accepted and to belong in particular groups.

Bottom Line

Now you’ve probably already got an idea of what motivation styles suit you but if you still haven’t taken the Motivation Style Assessment, I recommend you to do this now: What’s Your Motivation Style?

When you have an understanding of what motivates you, you’ll have more control over your own life. You’ll be able to better change yourself and push you through that change.

On top of that, there also comes deeper understanding in what brings you satisfaction, what you’re interested in, and ultimately have habits that contribute to your growth.

Featured photo credit: Joseph Chan via

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Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on September 27, 2021

What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

What Is Incentive Motivation And Does It Work?

We’ve all needed a bit of inspiration at some time in our lives. In the past year or two, that need most likely has grown. Who hasn’t been trying to shed those extra pounds we put on during the pandemic? Who hasn’t felt the need to fake a little enthusiasm at joining yet another Zoom call? Who hasn’t been trying to get excited about trekking back into the office for a 9 to 5 (longer if you add in the commute)? Feeling “meh” is a sign of our times. So, too, is incentive motivation, a way to get back our spark, our drive, and our pursuit of the things we say we want most.

In this article, I’ll talk about what incentive motivation is and how it works.

What Is Incentive Motivation?

Incentive motivation is an area of study in psychology focused on human motivation. What is it that gets us to go from couch potato to running a marathon? What spurs us to get the Covid vaccine—or to forgo it? What is it that influences us to think or act in a certain way? Incentive motivation is concerned with the way goals influence behavior.[1] By all accounts, it works if the incentive being used holds significance for the person.

The Roots of Incentive Motivation

Incentive motivation’s roots can be traced back to when we were children. I’m sure many of us have similar memories of being told to “eat all our veggies” so that we would “grow up to be big and strong,” and if we did eat those veggies, we would be rewarded with a weekend trip to a carnival or amusement park or playground of choice. The incentive of that outing was something we wanted enough to have it influence our behavior.


Growing up, incentive motivation continues to play a major role in what we choose to do. For example, while we may not have relished the idea of spending years studying, getting good grades, pursuing advanced degrees, and graduating with sizeable debt from student loans, a great many of us decided to do just that. Why? Because the end goal of a career, a coveted title, and the associated incentives of financial reward and joy in doing something we love were powerful motivators.

One researcher who believes in the power of incentive motivation is weight management expert, co-author of the book State of Slim, and co-founder of the transformational weight loss program of the same name, Dr. Holly Wyatt. Her work with her clients has proven time and again that when motivation fizzles, incentives can reignite those motivational fires.

“Eat more veggies, exercise, keep track of my weight: These things and more DO work, but bottom line, you gotta keep doing them. Setting up rituals and routines to put your efforts on auto-pilot is one way. And along the way, the use of both external and internal motivators helps keep people on track. External motivation sources are those things outside of ourselves that help to motivate us. They’re powerful, like pouring gasoline on a fire. But they may not last very long. Internal motivators are more tied into the reasons WHY we want to reach our goals. In my State of Slim weight loss program, we spend a lot of time on what I call ‘peeling back the onion’ to find the WHY. I think the internal motivators are more powerful, especially for the long-term, but they may take longer to build. They’re the hot coals that keep our motivational fires burning.”

Examples of Incentive Motivation

In the way of incentive motivation, specific to the external motivators, Dr. Wyatt challenges her clients to commit to changing just one behavior that will help them reach their weight loss goals. Clients must then agree to a “carrot” or a “stick” as either their reward for accomplishing what they say they will do or as their punishment for falling short. Those incentives might be something like enjoying a spa day if they do the thing they said they would do or sweating it out while running up and down the stairwell of their apartment building a certain number of times as punishment for not following through.


Whatever they choose, the goal must be something they really want, and the incentive must be something that matters to them enough to influence their behaviors in reaching those goals. Some people are more motivated by some sort of meaningful reward (a carrot) whereas, other people are more motivated by some sort of negative consequence or the taking away of a privilege (the stick).

Another example of incentive motivation is playing out currently with companies and government entities offering perks to people who get the Covid vaccine. Nationwide, offers are being made in the way of lottery tickets, cash prizes, concert seats, free admission to events and discounts for food, and even free drink at local restaurants and bars. The list of incentives being offered to the public to increase vaccination rates is pretty extensive and quite creative.[2]  These incentives are financial, social, and even hit on moral sensibilities. But is this particular incentive motivation working?

Remember that a key to incentive motivation working is if the individual puts importance on the reward being received on the ultimate goal. So, not all incentives will motivate people in the same way. According to Stephen L. Franzoi, “The value of an incentive can change over time and in different situations.”[3]

How Does Incentive Motivation Differ from Other Types of Motivators?

Incentive motivation is just one type of motivating force that relies on external factors. While rewards are powerful tools in influencing behaviors, a few other options may be more aligned with who you are and what gets you moving toward your goals.


Fear Motivation

In many ways, being motivated by fear is the very opposite of being motivated by incentives. Rather than pursuing some reward, it’s the avoidance of some consequence or painful punishment that sparks someone into action. For example, married couples may “forsake all others” not out of love or commitment but out of a fear that they may be “taken to the cleaners” by their spouses if their infidelities are revealed.

Another example wherein fear becomes the great motivator is one we’re hearing about more and more as we’re coming out of this pandemic—the fear of being poor. The fear of being poor has kept many people in jobs they hate. It’s only now that we see a reversal as headlines are shining a light on just how many workers are quitting and refusing to go back to the way things were.

Social Motivation

Human beings are social creatures. The desire to belong is a powerful motivator. This type of social motivation sparks one’s behavior in ways that, hopefully, result in an individual being accepted by a certain group or other individuals.

The rise of the Internet and the explosion of social media engagement has been both positive and negative in its power to motivate us to be included among what during our school days would be called “the cool kids” or “cliques” (jocks, nerds, artsy, gamers, etc.). We probably all have experienced at one time or another the feelings associated with “not being chosen”—whether to be on a team to play some game or as the winning candidate for some job or competition. Social rejection can make or break us.


Before You Get Up and Go…

Know that, especially during these challenging times, it’s “normal” and very much “okay” to feel a lack of motivation. Know, too, that external motivators, such as those we’ve talked about in this article, can be great tools to get your spark back. We’ve only touched on a few here. There are many more—both external and internal.

Remember that these external motivators, such as incentive motivations, are only as powerful as the importance placed on the reward by the individual. It’s also important to note that if there isn’t an aligned internal motivation, the results will more than likely be short-lived.

For example, losing a certain amount of weight because you want to fit into some outfit you intend to wear at some public event may get you to where you want to be. But will it hold up after your party? Or will those pounds find their way back to you? If you want to be rewarded at work with that trip to the islands because you’ve topped the charts in sales and hustle to make your numbers, will you be motivated again and again for that same incentive? Or will you need more and more to stay motivated?

Viktor Frankl, the 20th-century psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor, and author of the best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, is quoted as having said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” As important as external motivators like incentives may be in influencing behaviors, the key is always to align them with one’s internal “why”—only then will the results be long-lived.


So, how might incentive motivation influence you and your behavior toward goals? Knowing your answer might keep you energized no matter what your journey and help to further your successes.

Featured photo credit: Atharva Tulsi via


[1] Britannica: Incentive motivation
[2] National Governors Association: COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives
[3] verywellmind: The Incentive Theory of Motivation

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