No matter whether we are talking about just work or life in general, motivation plays a key role in advancing in any areas, in improving ourselves and also in feeling happy and content of what we do on a regular basis. There is life without motivation, but I would say it is more like sitting on a side-bench and watching your own life happening, rather than living your own life and following your passion. In order to understand the concept of motivation in details, it is very important to be aware of two main types of it. Because there is a big difference between whether we are living my extrinsic or intrinsic motivation.
In some parts of our lives, we can experience both of them, but which is better to be embraced on the long run and why?
Let’s see the answers to these questions.
As it can already be guessed from its name, this type of motivation arrives to us from the outside. These are all those motivation factors that our environment provides. Can be expectations from the family, friends, colleagues, company and if we comply with them, we hopefully get a reward in exchange of it. The point is, that we are motivated by the fact to reach a certain desired external goal. An example can be studying all day and night to pass an exam, prepare some charts at work to convince a boss, doing your make-up so that someone likes you, helping a colleague in order to win them over and have a good opinion about you.
On the one hand, we can say that these extrinsic motivations are good for you, because they push you to do something, they move you to action. This is absolutely true, however, the problem with these is that whatever you do in these cases, it will not be genuinely you. If you always live by the external motivation factors, sooner or later you can feel burn-out, you can feel that you don’t have purpose in life and you can feel lost. But why does this happen? The reason is simple.
Extrinsic motivation is about what others need or expect. It is not about what you need or want. If you only focus on other people, their needs and expectations, you tend to forget about yourself, your own goals, your own needs.
As external motivation factors have no real connection to you, if you live only by them on the long run, they lead to you being unsatisfied with what you do on a daily basis.
Because of all the above mentioned, it is essential for everyone to find their internal motivation. External ones will always be present, most probably we will always need to obey to some of them, at least from time to time. But what is crucial here is to have a healthy balance. Allow more of your internal motivation to rule your life. This way it is easier to bare the weight of the external ones as well.
So, what is intrinsic motivation exactly?
It is a behaviour, an act, something that you do, which you are doing for its own sake or for your own self, for your own contentment and enjoyment. The answer to the question of “why am I doing this?” here is that you do it for yourself. Not because others expect it from you, not because this is how it ‘should be done’, but because you enjoy and like it. You can feel that you benefit from it in a way, you can feel that it moves you forward. Regardless of what other people (would) think about it.
For example, studying all day and night, because you find a topic that interesting, that you cannot stop, doing a task at your workplace because you believe in it, doing your make-up because you enjoy the activity and the creativity of it, you help a colleague because this genuine move comes from you deep inside and you don’t expect any kind of reward for it. Do you feel the difference between these examples and the similar ones in the extrinsic part before?
All these things are about you, what you are genuinely, what your inner deep needs require. Not for the sake of others being satisfied or having a good opinion about you. But because you, yourself feel good by doing these things – even if others around you do not reflect that.
Living your life mostly by the intrinsic motivations can be challenging at first.
In many cases, people might not even be aware of them. You need to dig deeper in your own soul to find those things that make you happy, that motivate you. If you are struggling with finding these, I would suggest a very simple coaching activity, which you can do on your own.
At the end of every day, think it through what happened to you. Find those moments, activities, things, that made you really happy during the day. Make a list of it. If you feel like, you can also write another list of what could have done this day even better for you. Do this activity for a week or two, and then read you list(s) from the beginning to the end. What are those things from this list that you can implement in your life? I am sure there will be some. When you find them, start the implementation as well and feel how it changes your life.
The other challenge about living by the intrinsic motivations is the fear of doing it, which comes from the lack of self-confidence. If you have your self-confidence lower than the healthy level, you might not dare to take the risk that what you would genuinely do is not liked by others. Or maybe, you will simply not believe in yourself that you can/are allowed to do it your way. But what you need to see, that all these thoughts and fears are in correlation with the low level of self-confidence.
By improving your self-confidence, you can get closer and closer to your own intrinsic motivations, you will be able to act upon them, live by them. This is the key to a happy and really motivated life.
Hope that now, reading about the differences between these two types of the motivation, you can find your own way and start your journey on your own path. This will lead you to a higher quality of life and to a higher satisfaction level about your own self. I wish you all the best of luck on your journey!