Published on April 7, 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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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on May 12, 2021

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation: Is One Better Than The Other?

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation: Is One Better Than The Other?

Have you observed the behavior of children as they carry out daily tasks? They may naturally be inclined towards playing games with friends but would need a push to do their homework. Children may enjoy eating junk food by themselves but need adult monitoring while reluctantly having vegetables.

As these kids grow up, the behavior remains the same. There are many reasons we do certain things. Sometimes, we’re internally motivated to make something happen, and other times we’re driven externally. Such a dichotomy involves contrasting intrinsic motivation versus extrinsic motivation:[1]

“When intrinsically motivated, people engage in an activity because they find it interesting and inherently satisfying. By contrast, when extrinsically motivated, people engage in an activity to obtain some instrumentally separable consequence, such as the attainment of a reward, the avoidance of punishment, or the achievement of some valued outcome.”

Read on to learn more about intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation and find out how reward-oriented behavior influences our productivity and how we can regulate it!


What Is Intrinsic Motivation?

All the theories that describe what classifies as intrinsic motivation talk about a natural drive from within to pursue an activity because it gives us pleasure.

Some psychology researchers have associated intrinsic behavior with basic human needs, creativity, performance enhancement, and contentment.[2] When we carry out a task that fulfills our natural urges, such as hunger, thirst, and sleep, we are better equipped with the drive to complete a task. Other times, we might simply do something because it stimulates the aesthetic experience of being in that state of activity, such as hobbies.

Simply put, activities that bring us satisfaction and joy are powered by intrinsic motivation because an internal reward system fuels them.

Examples of Intrinsic Motivation

  • Studying because you enjoy the process of gaining knowledge and not simply because you want good grades
  • Helping out a friend/family member with something out of love without expecting anything in return from them
  • Standing in the kitchen for hours to prepare your favorite meal because the end product satiates your hunger and gives you joy
  • Pursuing a hobby, such as gardening, trekking, camping, and playing sports, among others, to experience an aesthetic pleasure
  • Running a marathon to feel physically rejuvenated instead of seeking the prize money
  • Taking up extra responsibility at work/school to improve your skills without the intention of gaining recognition or earning someone’s favor

What Is Extrinsic Motivation?

When we are not inherently motivated to perform a task because it does not bring about a sense of satisfaction, we are extrinsically motivated. Such motivation facilitates our desire to attain a reward or avoid punishment.


Not all the work we do brings us joy, owing to its repetitive nature, urgency, necessity, frequency, duration, or monotony. Whether it is dragging ourselves to work/school every morning or working on weekends, we tend to undertake tasks that might not inherently please or satisfy us. Usually, an external force or ulterior motive drives us to complete such tasks. Rewards like money, praise, and fame drive our motivation extrinsically.

However, extrinsic motivation does not necessarily mean that we are unwilling to do something. We just seek an external reward from it. For example, a person might like writing but goes the extra mile to make money out of it.

Point to be noted: Offering external rewards for something that already rewards inherently can decrease motivation, known as the overjustification effect.[3]

Examples of Extrinsic Motivation

  • Working a part-time job to make extra money while still being a student
  • Participating in competitions to win prizes and earn fame
  • Attending classes regularly not because the lecture is exciting but to maintain the attendance record
  • Going to the office on lazy days to avoid pay-cut
  • Completing a task well before time to earn praise and recognition
  • Doing something you don’t like just to avoid public judgment
  • Doing chores to flatter parents before requesting something from them

The 3 Regulators of Productivity

As social beings, we interact with our surroundings to tend to our satisfaction and gain. Despite being interlinked with various social factors, we still act independently as individually identifiable beings with preferences and opinions.


Daniel H. Pink, in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, talks about the evolving state of the digital economy and leaders can adopt more effective methods of motivation. He proposes three principles of increasing productivity: autonomy, mastery (alternatively, competence), and purpose. Detaching his propositions from the workplace context to universalize it, I shall discuss the impact of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on these three principles.

  • Autonomy refers to the amount of creativity and control we hold over individual expression without any external influence. It determines our independence in making choices and deciding the course of future actions.
  • Mastery or competence is our capacity to execute a task to the best of our ability without any external help. Our competency level governs how well we can perform when tasked with something.
  • Purpose alludes to the yearning within individuals to contribute to humankind’s more meaningful existence beyond the self.

Productivity is a cumulative result of the above three that motivation regulates. In the following section, we shall explore the differing impacts of the two kinds of motivation on individual performance: intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation: Is There a Third Option?

In a psychological study, Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci found out that “conditions supportive of autonomy and competence reliably facilitated this vital expression of the human growth tendency, whereas conditions that controlled behavior and hindered perceived reflectance undermined its expression.”[4]

In other words, whether a task is intrinsically or extrinsically motivated, it should not negatively impact our natural abilities.


They also concluded that “Excessive control, nonoptimal challenges, and lack of connectedness…disrupt the inherent actualizing and organizational tendencies endowed by nature, and thus such factors result not only in the lack of initiative and responsibility but also in distress.” Simply put, unachievable challenges and emotional detachment can diminish individuals’ natural abilities and negatively impact performance.

Hence, it is safe to conclude that positive motivation is the key to performance enhancement without mentally, physically, or emotionally tiring out an individual. Whether it is at school, work, or social circles, superiors must ensure that an assigned task must be positively motivated in a way that warrants commitment, interest, and productivity. Hence, the type of motivation is not significant to performance as long as it does not hinder the three principles of productivity.

How Can You Positively Motivate Others?

Provide regular feedback: Individuals putting in efforts to make something happen, like hearing about their strengths and weaknesses. But before doing that, you must establish feedback-giving as a positive and encouraging process towards development within the social setup!

  • Set attainable goals: Asking too much from people negatively impacts performance as it does not respect their abilities. It can also be severely discouraging as it prevents individuals from giving their best, thinking that it is unattainable.
  • Challenge them by gradually increasing the level: Once you have gauged a person’s skill level, you can slowly give them more significant tasks to expand their abilities.
  • Inspire them: Setting an example is the best way to motivate others. You could perform your best to let people know what you expect from them.
  • Establish a trust relationship: Trust is the key to maintaining any human relationship, whether personal or professional. Ensuring the existence of this emotion comforts and inspires them to do better.
  • Maintain a healthy reward system: Humans cannot resist rewards, whether intrinsic or extrinsic. Maintaining a healthy reward system can propel others to work harder and productively.
  • Seek feedback from them: Finally, seeking feedback is just as important as giving it. Don’t forget to ask people’s opinions on the changes you can make to your approach!

Final Thoughts

Looking at your life with a bird’s eye view isn’t always easy. You sometimes need external motivators who see your potential and help you pave a path to success. But even when you have external motivators backing you up, paying close attention to your internal dialogue will help you cross the roadblocks.

And do not forget, motivation isn’t the goal in itself—it’s the pathway to a long journey where you achieve more milestones, and looking at the bird’s eye view of your life becomes easier. Have a happy journey!

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Featured photo credit: Stephen Leonardi via


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