Motivation is the drive we have to do something… and can be internal (intrinsic) or external (extrinsic) which simply identifies it’s origin. In a sense, intrinsic pushes us towards that activity, and extrinsic pulls us towards it. If we build a lego plane because of the challenge and sense of accomplishment, that motivation is coming from within us. If we build it because of the chance of winning a prize in a competition, that’s obviously an external reward. Of course, it could be both! Sometimes external motivation appears to be the ‘poor cousin’ and intrinsic motivation is held up as the gold standard.
Whilst it would be nice to be internally motivated for EVERYTHING we want and need to do in our lives, it’s a little unrealistic and we may need them both! Knowing ourselves and how we work best is important too. For example, what if want to start exercising regularly? Will you have a better chance of success if you start it alone, or organising a buddy to go with? Is a combination better for you? Sometimes starting out employing the ‘external’ can enhance the ‘internal’ motivation to continue.
I frequently say to clients to consider both sources of motivation to get started on something they want to do. There’s no right or wrong, just an awareness of motivational options. Is there something you’ve started and not maintained? Consider (and write down) WHY you wanted to do this originally (why is it important to you? how will you benefit from it?) (intrinsic) and then then think about how you can engage others in your quest (maybe as participants or accountability buddies) and/or reward yourself (external).
There’s more information in the article below for those interested.