What Motivates YOU?

Motivation can often times feel like something you have or something you don’t. I know from personal experience that there are days when I feel motivated and days when I don’t.

But today I wondered, “What is motivating me TO DO or NOT TO DO something?”

After researching, this is what I’ve concluded…

Motivation can be either extrinsic or intrinsic. It can either come from outside or inside of a person.

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Extrinsic motivation comes when you feel the urge to do something in order to gain a specific reward, or steer clear of a punishment

Intrinsic motivation is self motivation. Simply put, you do it for the joy it brings to you and not outward material gain.

An example of extrinsic motivation would be:

  • Working hard on a paper just to get a good grade.
  •  Practicing a sport to win an award.
  • Going to work every day just to get that paycheck.

No matter what the reward is, it is coming from an exterior source, and you are moving towards something very specific.

EXTRINSIC in a nut shell, is doing it for the STUFF.

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As great as receiving good grades, putting that trophy on your shelf, or monetary compensation may seem…

Extrinsic motivation has serious drawbacks

It’s not sustainable 

As soon as you withdraw the punishment or reward, the motivation disappears.

You get diminishing returns

If the punishment or rewards stay at the same levels, motivation slowly drops off. To get the same motivation next time requires a bigger reward.

It hurts intrinsic motivation

Punishing or rewarding people for doing something removes their own innate desire to do it on their own. From now on you must punish/reward every time to get them to do it.

Problems with the extrinsic method:

  1. The cobra effect. In a town, there was an over population of cobras. So, the mayor of the town offered a financial reward for the people who could capture and kill them. However, when the snake population started to dwindle, people caught onto the game and they began breeding them. Once the major realized this, he stopped the financial incentive. When the people of the town stopped receiving the money, they released the snakes into the town creating a more extreme over population. In turn. the incentive had indirectly created a larger problem.
  2. The blood donor dilemma or the incentive competition effect. When paying for blood, the number of donors decrease, this is because the people who did it as the “right thing to do” began to see it as a paid service and the financial award was not high enough for them. Their own intrinsic motivation had been crowded out. 

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Alternatively, intrinsic motivation is when you do something because the process is personally rewarding. While you don’t have a tangible goal in mind, you may just enjoy writing, making music or painting a picture for pleasure.

The pros to intrinsic motivation:

Intrinsic motivation is important in habit building

You won’t be easily distracted and waste time doing other things. Instead, you focus on the present moment and gain value from it. You will also experience fewer motivational swings.

Have you ever gone through a period of laziness followed by periods of a great urge to finish a lot of work?

This was likely guided by an outside source of motivation that was making you want something that you did not currently have. Intrinsic motivation is more fluid, and allows you to feel a constant rate of motivation.

You will find yourself continuously motivated, if in your own failures

You will see the opportunity to learn and grow within each experience. Making mistakes is part of the learning process, and you know that with each mistake you make, you have learned a lesson. You will be thankful for any progress you are able to make because you are enjoying it along the way.

Knowledge will become the satisfaction and give you the feeling of achievement

The accomplishment itself will become the reward. When you feel like you have accomplished something, you are likely to be able to look back on the hard work you did and be proud of how far you have come.

For example, maybe you have been working out and eating healthy for several months and it is finally starting to show in your bodies appearance. Having that feeling of accomplishment is worth all of the hard work that you put into a project. Also, looking in the mirror at the results along the way has its own feeling of satisfaction. 

Doing something simply to be better than you were before

People often compete with themselves to ensure that they are continuously improving as a person. Every time you beat a personal record or obtain a goal you set out to achieve, you will want to raise the bar just a little higher for the future. You will always want to reach and become the best version of yourself. 

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Simply put…

Focus on your own intrinsic motivation, it will yield longer lasting results and allow you to become fulfilled with more than just material gain.



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