Better Understanding Intrinsic Motivation: Be Successful

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Finding motivation is something that most of us, if not all, struggle with at some point or another. Getting the drive to take care of a specific task or project ... Read more

Finding motivation is something that most of us, if not all, struggle with at some point or another. Getting the drive to take care of a specific task or project is part of the task itself and there are various sources of this motivation.

But finding that Intrinsic Motivation, that naturally inspired motivation, can be difficult. When you find yourself intrinsically motivated, it is because you are engaging in the activities due to enjoyment or personal satisfaction.

This is in contrast to extrinsic motivation where the motivation comes from achieving some kind of external reward. For example, maybe you derive motivation for completing a class project because you want a good grade.

Examples of Intrinsic Motivation

While there are certainly far too many examples to really cover just what intrinsic motivation entails, these intrinsic motivation examples will give you a much better idea of what it is.

Here are a few intrinsic motivation examples:

  • Learning to speak Spanish because you have an interest in exploring new things, not necessarily because it is a requirement of school or work.
  • Playing basketball because you really enjoy playing, not because you are looking for some type of award.
  • Volunteering at a homeless shelter, school, or nursing home because it provides you with a sense of fulfillment and contentment. Not only that, you enjoy volunteering your time to other people. Again, this will have nothing to do with some kind of requirement that you need to fulfill.
  • Painting or taking part in some other artistic activity because it brings you a sense of calm and joy.

These are just a few of the examples of how people find intrinsic motivation in the things they do versus doing them for some kind of reward or requirement.

Factors Behind Intrinsic Motivation

The fact of the matter is that every one of us is completely different. That means different motivating factors driving us to do the things that we do. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. But generally speaking, there are a bunch of different factors that will play into intrinsic motivation that tend to come into play for just about anyone.

Curiosity is when we are learning and exploring because we simply enjoy learning and exploring. Building and growing on that knowledge base is usually enough of a motivation to keep those people learning.

There is also the challenge factor. Some people simply enjoy giving themselves a tough task to work on because it isn’t the simple, repeated function they do daily. This gives those people goals to work for while still maintaining an optimal work level.

A sense of control can come into play, too. Maybe you’re a control freak and you really like to control certain outcomes or make decisions that can affect those outcomes. This can be an intrinsic motivation factor, too.

Simple recognition is a very common example of intrinsic motivation. Who doesn’t want to be recognized for their efforts and feel appreciated for the things that they do? Just that recognition factor can be a very strong motivating factor.

On the same hand, there is a desire to belong and to feel good about sharing goals with other people. This is a factor of cooperation. Being able to work together with others, to achieve a goal with them, can be a strong motivation.

Lastly, good old-fashioned competition is always a driving factor. Just wanting to rank highly or do better than the next person can be a strong motivating factor behind succeeding or completing a project or task.

The Importance of Intrinsic Motivation

While it might seem like finding motivation from either intrinsic or extrinsic methods is fine so long as it gets you going in the right direction, it is helpful to have those intrinsic motivations. This is because they help you build and develop better habits.

This is because it requires no justification for you to work on those habits. Let’s face facts and accept that there are not always extrinsic motivating factors available for a given task or project. This is why being able to drive from within, when there are no reasons to draw from, can be so important.

When you build the habit, you are far more likely to focus on your relevant tasks and won’t want to waste time doing things that will not push you closer to your final goal. Instead, there is a focus on what you need to do to get the job done and what will benefit you over the long run.

Having intrinsic motivation also helps keep those motivation swings at bay. All of us have had streaks where doing anything at all feels like the worst idea possible. Those periods of laziness are common, but they can lead to crunches to meet a deadline, resulting in even more stress.

When implementing intrinsic motivation, you introduce a bit of fluidity to most situations and this helps you to feel a more consistent rate of motivation. That keeps the lazy spells away far more often, allowing you to be more consistently productive.

Another great thing about finding intrinsic motivation is that you will find yourself less distracted. When you are motivated to do things, you are less prone to those distractions or feeling weak to them when they happen to be around.

Instead, you choose to continue working on the task or project in front of you, turning aside the distractions that can plague a project. There is also a greater focus on improving and learning as you go to make you more efficient at the task that you are undertaking.

Most importantly, you will be more forgiving of the mistakes that you have made, instead showing more confidence and self-sufficiency. When you have that confidence, you won’t look for other people (or other distractions) that will keep you from accomplishing the tasks that you need to get done.

Intrinsic Motivation Examples at Work

The workplace is more often than not the place where we deal with motivational issues. After all, we aren’t necessarily choosing to be there, we need to be there because of the need for money. That means there isn’t necessarily a natural drive to be at work.

So, it only makes sense to find intrinsic motivation from other areas of work. These are the things that keep you moving productively from task to task to get a joyful experience out of the situation.

Being inspired by responsibility can be a great motivating factor. It shows a level of trust in you from the management that may have not been there previously. It also means, in some cases, that there is increased pay to be had.

Even when the latter isn’t the case, you can get satisfaction in knowing that your work is progressing in quality and that you are being relied on to take on additional jobs.

This also means being recognized as a valuable resource within your company. This is a basic, fundamental need for all of us. This recognition is a confirmation that the work performed is valued by the company. No one wants to put in a ton of work only to hear that they aren’t doing good enough.

When this happens, it helps to raise the satisfaction level in people, which in turn motivates them to continue to do their best. Think about it: when being told that you are valuable at work, don’t you feel more motivated to go back to work and kick some more butt? This is the general principle of recognition coming into play.

Another primary factor in intrinsic motivation is the sense of accomplishment. When we have tasks ahead of us, getting them done feels like a big deal. When it comes to your motivation, it’s a big deal. Even the smallest of tasks or goals that are achieved are more than when you started. That is something to definitely hang your hat on.

Especially when dealing with larger projects, that sense of accomplishment can be the true driving force behind the completion of the project. Just knowing that the feeling of relief, of completing that project can be enough to provide a motivational boost that will drive you to complete other goals.

While intrinsic and extrinsic motivation certainly have their benefits and downfalls, it is clear where the importance is behind intrinsic motivation. Being able to naturally start yourself without the promise of a reward means that you have the steady, solid motivation that you need to be truly productive and successful.

Consider that the next time you feel yourself struggling with motivation it could be the key needed to not only unlock your system, but feel great about the tasks that you accomplish. Motivation is not all created equally and recognizing what can be done to positively affect your motivation can go a long way toward helping achieve those goals.

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Jesse Long

Hi, my name is Jesse, father of a Yorkie and the founder of I really enjoy writing, especially the inspired and motivational articles, and believe that they will definitely help you become better.

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