Motivation can be a tricky thing.
When it occurs, it can allow us to be inspired and actively achieve our most important goals.
The trick is learning how we can unlock motivation in the times that it doesn’t immediately swarm our brains and bodies.
In my opinion, unlocking the secret to motivation is simply understanding how and why we are motivated, and making it work for us!
There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic motivation comes from within, our own desire to excel at or accomplish something.
Extrinsic motivation comes from external factors: rewards and punishments (think the carrot and the stick).
Now you might assume that intrinsic motivation is better than extrinsic, but in reality, we often need both for different situations.
If we could all be intrinsically motivated all the time, that would be fantastic, but the truth is there are times when we need to engage in an activity that we simply do not like or have any desire to do.
In those cases, extrinsic motivation is often necessary to get us to do whatever it is we don’t want to do.
It’s important to recognize the differences in situations that should utilize extrinsic motivation and those that call for intrinsic motivation.
Let’s begin with talking about when and when not to reach for extrinsic motivation to accomplish something.
We shouldn’t go to extrinsic motivation when it’s a task that the individual already wants to do, or is willing to do.
If the person already finds the activity intrinsically rewarding, then using extrinsic motivation would be irrelevant, and adds nothing.
Extrinsic motivation should also not be used if it’s going to make a “play” task seem like work.
For instance, you wouldn’t reward your child for something they already want to do or you know they typically enjoy doing.
Extrinsic rewards should be used for activities and tasks that the individual had no previous interest in or desire to do.
Using extrinsic rewards in these situations can open people up to new experiences and get them to try things they may not have considered before.
Extrinsic rewards can also be used to help motivate individuals to learn new tasks or skills which they may later begin to enjoy, as a result of learning them and knowing how to do them well.
For instance, if someone has no desire to learn to speak French, but there’s some reward in it for them, such as a trip to a bakery after each lesson, they may eventually realize they actually enjoy the lessons and become intrinsically motivated to continue.
There are some instances where it can be confusing as to whether something is intrinsically or extrinsically motivating.
For instance, some people enjoy studying and doing well in class because it gives them a feeling of accomplishment.
Typically, we’d classify that as intrinsic motivation.
However, if those feelings are derived not just from the enjoyment of learning, but from the enjoyment of receiving a good grade, that is extrinsic motivation, with the reward being the good grade.
In that case, it’s important to think about whether that student would be just as happy receiving no grade on tests or assignments and not knowing how they’ve performed as they would if they received straight As for their hard work.
Unlocking the secret to motivation is as easy as knowing when to use extrinsic motivators and when to use intrinsic motivators.
Knowing how to motivate people (including yourself!) makes life much easier and bears great success.