Intrinsic motivation is when you are encouraged to complete a task or activity based on the internal feeling you receive when doing these things. In contrast, extrinsic motivation is when you are encouraged to do an activity based on an external reward.
For example, if you go to work because you are encouraged to receive your paycheck at the end of the day then that is extrinsic motivation. However, if you choose to coach your daughter’s soccer team because you enjoy the feeling of spending quality time with your daughter and making a difference in children’s life, then that would be intrinsic motivation. Let’s say you wanted to make sure you coach your daughter’s soccer team to ensure she plays the entire game, that would not be intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation will keep you motivated for the long hall, while extrinsic motivation may keep you motivated solely for the time that the reward is available or even shorter.
Intrinsic motivation is the most powerful for us because we have the power to control our source of motivation. If you notice yourself only participating in certain activities for an external result, then you may want to either change your mindset or your activities. You should start finding activities that are challenging and engaging, think of something you would be interested in doing if no one was there to praise you, you would receive no financial compensation, or any other external rewards. If you have a job that you only go to because of the paycheque, think of a part of the job that really interests you. Maybe it’s helping the new employees learn the ropes, maybe it is a particular challenge you are interested in overcoming, whatever it is, think of something that pushes you to go further solely based on your own accord.
First, evaluate your motivations. What motivates you to wake up in the morning and go to work? Why do you go to your children’s or friend’s special events? Consider your goals, why are they important to you? All these questions will help you identify what your motivations are. Start considering both external and internal rewards. How can you maximize the internal rewards? Do more of the activities that give you that warm fuzzy feeling inside.
Release the motivation for compensation from your mind. Think about what you would do if money didn’t exist. Would you still be at the job you are at now? No? Consider making a career change. A happy life needs to come from you! You cannot continue doing the same thing and expecting to be happy or have a positive life. Make the necessary changes in your life to continually be happy. Remember no job or task is perfect. Do not completely change your path after one roadblock. However, be aware of your feelings after each day at work. If you dread waking up every day knowing you have to go to work, then you will not use intrinsic motivation and you will subsequently not live a happy and fulfilling life.
If you determine your own internal rewards then no one or no situation can take these away. The power of motivation is completely in your own hands, doesn’t that feel like such a relief? You have a terrible boss? You aren’t receiving the credit you deserve throughout the household? None of these scenarios will hurt you or weaken your motivation because your motivation will come from within.
Developing a better sense of intrinsic motivation will help you with your own self-care and it will also help you achieve your career goals. In today’s society we think we need to work 50+ hours a week doing things we do not enjoy to finally “make it.” This ideology can not be further from the truth. The more you enjoy completing the work, the more work you will be able to do and it won’t even feel like work. Do not let today’s society tell you need to have a miserable life for sometime to make it. You have the power to change your life for the better, one step at a time.