Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic Motivation: Why We Do What We Do
Extrinsic motivation occurs when actions are performed to receive external feedback like compliments, rewards, medals and recognition or to avoid danger and off-putting criticism. Extrinsically motivated people focus more on the outcome rather than the (positive) emotions associated with their behavior.
Intrinsic motivation on the other hand, is fueled by taking part in activities that you genuinely enjoy and don’t feel pressured or obligated to do. These are things we do where time just seems to fly by. Motivation is what determines what we do, how we do something and how much we accomplish. It has been tested and proven that our performance is only as great as our motivation . The less inspired we are, the poorer our performance. If your peers are unmotivated and your surroundings feel toxic, your only source of inspiration will be yourself.
Here are some ways to channel your intrinsic motivation:
- Make a list of all your favorite things.
Once you’ve got all your go-to books, hobbies or activities down, you already have a list of “happy” things to choose from. You have no excuses to be idle, bored, or uninspired. Can’t decide? Eenie-meenie-miny-moe your options. Never say you’re out of things to do.
- Take a break.
"Work to live or live to work?” The controversy continues.
People fail to remember that life is NOT all about working. Even if you love your job, are happy with your salary, or are devoted to your company, you need a break. Sure, your job has unique benefits and great pay – but these are all extrinsic sources of motivation. Take part in outdoor and family activities that increase your intrinsic motivation, like picnics and hikes. How else are you going to enjoy everything life has to offer outside your 8-5 work hours? Our jobs should not define us.
- Reminisce on good times.
Go back to when you won your first swimming match. Recall your first perfect score on a test. Remember how great those milestones felt? Imagine how amazing they’d feel the second, third or fourth time around. The more positive you are about your abilities, the easier it is to build up your intrinsic motivation.
- Participate in community events.
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world. -Buddha
Love to read? Sign up to teach kids how to read or be the storyteller yourself at your local library. There’re plenty of ways to do what you love while partnering with your community. Seeing the thankful faces of people you helped should give you more than enough fulfillment.
There’s no greater feeling than being someone else’s reason for being happy. It doesn’t have to be in a romantic way. Choose to help those in need because you feel in your heart that it’s the right thing to do – not because it makes you look good.
- Look forward to the feeling of relief and satisfaction.
“Monetary rewards are not a substitute for intrinsic motivation.” – Edwards Deming If you’ve been putting off doing a project or repairing a broken part of the house for months, think of how rewarding it’d feel to finally get the task over with. That’s one less thing to worry about and more time to do what you want to do.
- Spend time with your family and/or friends.
“Your inner strength is your outer foundation”― Allan Rufus
Mixing in a little extrinsic motivation won’t hurt. You don’t need grand gestures to enjoy each others’ company. Sometimes all it takes is a hug and some inspirational words from mom or dad to motivate you and help you succeed. They are, after all, our number one supporters. It’s still up to you whether or not you’re going to put their advice to action.
- “Just Do It”
Even Nike knows that the first step is always the hardest. Stop postponing. Use your intrinsic motivation to earn rewards, not regrets. Procrastination is, and always will be, a nuisance and a hindrance towards motivation.
- Stay healthy.
You have complete freedom over what meals you should prepare, when, and how often. Opt to eat healthier; not only will it make you look good, you’ll feel better, too. Hunger leads to crankiness and inefficiency. No one really accomplishes much on an empty stomach.
- Know your wants.
You have to want to do something. If you’re simply doing things because you “have to, should, or must” or because “everyone else is doing it”, you won’t get very far. No matter how many extrinsic factors push you to succeed, it’s always going to feel like something’s missing if you don’t know what you want – and how to achieve it.
- Keep a journal.