What Motivates You?

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney. 

We often look at motivation through the lens of whether we have it or not. But have you ever considered what truly drives you? Or, more specifically, looked at the motivation behind motivation?

There are two main types of motivation – Extrinsic and Intrinsic – which represent the external and internal rewards that fuel and motivate us. Read more to learn the differences between to two, and discover which motivating factors play a role in your life!

  1. Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is driven by external rewards. VeryWellMind.com points out that ”these rewards can be tangible, such as money or grades, or intangible, such as praise or fame.”

Extrinsic motivation also includes achieving or doing things due to fear, wish for acceptance, desire for social belonging or meeting societal expectations.

Healthline gives the example of being paid to do a job as extrinsic motivation. “You may enjoy spending your day doing something other than work, but you're motivated to go to work because you need a paycheck to pay your bills. In this example, you're extrinsically motivated by the ability to afford your daily expenses.”

Psychology Today notes, “an extrinsic motivator needs three elements to be successful: expectancy (believing that increased effort will lead to increased performance), instrumentality (believing that a better performance will be noticed and rewarded), and valence (wanting the reward that is promised).”

  1. Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is driven by internal rewards. Intrinsic motivation comes from within us. This type of motivation is not due to any outside pressure, obligation, or reward. We do things for internal reasons, for the pleasure of doing something, in the spirit of helping others or because it is in line with our value system.

 In the book "Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior With Concept Maps," the authors offer the following definition of intrinsic motivation:

"Intrinsic motivation occurs when we act without any obvious external rewards. We simply enjoy an activity or see it as an opportunity to explore, learn, and actualize our potentials."

For example, a person might follow a vegetarian diet because it makes them feel good, aligns with their values and is a part of their identity. Compared to extrinsic motivation; “intrinsic motivation is powerful because it is integrated into identity and serves as a continuous source of motivation.” It is typically more sustainable because it focuses on things that we can control.

While extrinsic and intrinsic are the two main types of motivation, it’s important to note that motivation is very complex and there are a multitude of sub-categories within each of these main motivation categories.

How do we use this knowledge to help drive us? TIME Magazine recently published an article entitled “15 Ways to Motivate Yourself and Others”. I’ve captured some of the main points below, but please take a moment to read the entire article – it’s full of helpful suggestions!

1. Connect to your values.

2. Find your WHY. What is your compelling purpose?

3. Change your WHY. Are you doing things for the wrong reason? If so, make some changes!

4. Change your HOW. Changing how you do something can help get you out of a stale routine.

5. Remember the feeling. Remember what makes you feel good and tap into that motivation to change how you’re feeling.

6. Shift to past, present or the future. Figure out which serves you the most in this present moment and switch your thinking there. 

7. Find a meaningful metaphor that fuels you. Connecting that metaphor to your values is even more impactful.

8. Take action. Sometimes you just need to “start”, and the motivation may follow.

9. Link the work to good feelings. Playing your favorite type of music can make you happy when doing a task you are dreading.

10. Impress yourself first.

11. “CHOOSE” to. Change the dialogue from “have to”, “must do” or “should do”.

12. Pair up with somebody who can mentor you and help motivate you when you lose your drive and ambition.

13. Change your question to change your focus. Ask yourself what is going well, rather than what is going wrong.

14. Have a routine for eating, sleeping, and working out.

15. Play to your strengths.

The author of the TIME article referenced above, J.D. Meier, offers this tip, and I couldn’t love it more “Learn how to push your own buttons from the inside out.”

Finding what motivates us and how to tap into those motivational factors can help us push forward and overcome slumps or obstacles in our daily lives. Try some of the tips above and view our video Motivation, Self-Control, and Productivity: Quick Tips to Improve Yourself to increase your motivation today!