We can define extrinsic and intrinsic motivation based on how you want your life to be. Do you want to be successful or to look successful? If you had to choose one of these, what would be your first choice?
If you choose to be successful you have intrinsic motivations. If you choose to look successful despite not being as successful as you are, you are being led by extrinsic motivations.
Why do you do what you do in life? If a student, what is the real reason you are pursuing success in your academics? If a worker or business person, why do you put time and energy into your work? Whatever behaviour you pursue in life has a motivation. Some motivations can be good to you, others damaging to your state of mind.
The two main types of motivation namely intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as identified by Dr Richard Ryan and Dr Edward Deci in the self-determination theory of human motivation.
Intrinsic Motivation Definition.
Based on the self-determination theory, intrinsic motivation is the desire to do something because you want to and enjoy it as it is even though you might not get a reward for it. You do not do something because you expect money, fame, or people’s approval for it. Your motivation to engage in a particular behaviour comes from an internal source.
On the other hand, extrinsic motivation comes from an external source. Perhaps it’s the material or psychological rewards you get from behaving in a certain way. A balanced combination of both types of motivation leads to a good effect on your well-being.
How Does Intrinsic Motivation Work?
What can you do happily for free without needing payment? The reward of intrinsic motivation is not based on external factors like money, fame, and people. Rather, you enjoy the process of engaging in certain behaviour. External rewards are a bonus.
Some students would not be in school if they did not have extrinsic motivation such as the desire to be validated by teachers, parents, or their peers. With time, they develop a passion for studying because they love it and they rely more on their inner desire to do the work rather than because of the external pleasure they derive from it. They do not lose the extrinsic motivation for doing what they have to do but paired with intrinsic motivation, you can expect greater outcomes than if only guided by the extrinsic.
You need both because having a balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can produce great results in your life. You will have improved your experience in all areas of life. However, it seems intrinsic motivation is more impactful because you can easily create it on your own at any time.
However, extrinsic motivation relies on other people, uncontrolled circumstances, and a changing environment. You do not always have the external motivators to pursue a certain activity. Extrinsic motivation is short-term. As for the internal motivators, there is a never-ending supply within you. But you have to tap into it before it can be useful to you.
Hence, when you lack the motivation to do anything, it’s likely you have been relying heavily on extrinsic rather than intrinsic motivation. It is therefore important to develop intrinsic motivation. The process might be challenging but it is not impossible because it is your original motivation type of motivation.
Jesus must have known this when he taught people to be like children.
Observe children between 0 to 3 years and you will see intrinsic motivation at work. They do what pleases them without worrying about any person’s approval. They are free and happy if left to enjoy their childhood. Also, they are influenced by basic external motivators like temperature change and rewards for good behaviour. As they grow they are motivated by the desire to please their parents. However, generally, they have a balance between the two types of motivation.
Strengthen Intrinsic Motivation.
To sustain a lasting interest in your career, academics, partner, or a healthy lifestyle, you require intrinsic motivation. The following tips for strengthening intrinsic motivation are a reminder of an inborn element that lies dormant when you lack motivation in life.
1. Examine Your Passions.
What things do you enjoy doing for free that other people get paid to do? Find beneficial things you enjoy and set aside time to do them. Your hobbies can point you to your deepest desires. Ask yourself why the hobby is important to you. When you have goals that mean a lot to you, it is easy to sustain an interest in it despite having no rewards. You simply enjoy the process.
2. Pursue Your Passions .
Create opportunities to enjoy your passions more often. If you enjoying swimming, then find ways to swim more. Chasing your passions helps you to strengthen your intrinsic motivation which can trickle to other areas of your life.
3. Focus on the Action.
Keep your attention on the task at hand appreciating the details of the process. Vary the ways of what you are doing. When you focus on what you are doing, and consistently so, you reduce the amount of effort required to complete the task.
4. Make a Difference.
Work toward something greater than yourself. Make your behaviour more meaningful by using your passions to impact the other lives or the world positively without expectation of recognition. If you provide for the needy or engage in a philanthropic act, do not publicise it or take pictures and post on social media. Instead, train yourself to enjoy thee internal reward of doing so. Do not to be seen by others as kind, be kind.
5. Reduce the External Rewards.
Introduce restrictions to the external rewards you get from pursuing your passion. Limiting external motivators adds challenge to the experience and your mind will view the activity as a pleasing rather than boring and tiresome. It is like a game with no visible reward at the end. You’ll experience more fulfilment when you transition into getting internal rewards.
Life is for living. Keep living. Don’t give up.