Where does motivation come from? When taking a look within, you might find that sometimes you take actions because of motivations that exist within you, “intrinsic motivation”.
For example, “Am I motivated not to touch the fire because it’s hot?”. Or, “Do I eat healthy because I want to live longer?”.
Sometimes you make decisions based on the external factors around you, “extrinsic motivation”. For example, “Do I have a glass of wine with dinner because everyone else does?”.
In today’s competitive work and social environment, we find ourselves wanting to make more money, drive nicer cars, and live in bigger homes.
Often, the extrinsic motivations we allow to shape much of our day, leaves us feeling spiritually empty.
We may feel like everything we do is for other people… which may not be a bad thing but will be addressed in a later article.
Maybe, though… just maybe there isn’t anything wrong at all with pursuing a higher paying job and buying a more expensive car. If that is what you want to do, and if we find satisfaction in those pursuits.
Motivation and happiness are certainly linked. This is where the intrinsic motivation comes into play.
There are healthy reasons for pursuing the higher paying job, if you are a competitive person and want to continually work towards making more money.
But, if you’re not a competitive person or don’t highly value lots of money, you may be fooling yourself into pursuing a career that has those types of characteristics.
According to Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan, psychologists at the University of Rochester, pursuits intrinsically motivated produce the most satisfaction and are the most sustainable long term.
With this type of motivation, you are finding things to do that you truly enjoy. Things that you pursue void of external influences.
Another way of viewing extrinsic motivation
Typically, extrinsic motivation has been thought to be a poor form of motivation that is short-lived, results in poor performance levels, and ultimately produces dissatisfaction. However, according to Deci and Ryan, extrinsic motivation can be good.
Especially if you can recognize it and use it with care. Instead of viewing motivation as a dominating force that fuels you to accomplish things; view it for what it is, a tool. Using a little extrinsic motivation to your advantage can be a good thing.
Take the following example into consideration:
What if you want to make more money because you have a family member that has expensive medical needs? You will probably be intrinsically motivated to make more money to help this person because you love them and want them to have the best care.
But, what if while you are pursuing your higher paying career you have a colleague that has a nicer car than you and you want to buy a nicer car than them? This boost of extrinsic motivation may help you push through some career plateaus and in turn help your family member out. This could be fun. At the end of the day, have fun. After all, fun is only had intrinsically, right?
Getting to Know Self
In closing, the way to channel your motivation is by identifying what intrinsically motivates you and what extrinsically motivates you. Then you can begin to develop a framework for decision making. Your new found framework in place will allow you to choose things that best support your personality, keep you intrinsically motivated, and spiritually satisfied.
Keith L. Wood AT, LAT, CSCS
“Solutions to health and wealth”