Motivation! We all need that, don’t we? If not for motivation, we would all be sitting on our couch watching TV, possibly next to a stack of documents that need to be checked. Or a pile of clothes that need to be laundered. Or a bunch of emails to be sent. Oh, I can go on and on. Contrary to popular belief, motivation is needed in even the simplest of chores in our day to day lives, not just the big ones.
But have you ever wondered why you do some things? What keeps you motivated? Do you do it for yourself or for others? Just have a look at the following examples:
- Say, you exercise daily. You may exercise in order to lose weight and tone your body. Or you may exercise for the mere joy of it.
- You decide to look your best for an upcoming party. You may do so to impress someone who you are sure is gonna attend that party or you simply enjoy playing dress up and putting on makeup.
- You open your geography book and start to study. You may be studying so as not to fail in the upcoming test. It can also be that you are absolutely interested in geography and is looking forward to learn new stuff.
The first set of reasons in all the 3 cases tell you one thing – that you are doing the respective tasks for the external rewards, be it praise, appreciation, money or good grades. This is called extrinsic motivation. Whereas, the second set points to a different reason. You are doing it because it is personally rewarding. You don’t expect any external reward, the inner happiness you get while doing it is enough for you to pursue that task. This is called intrinsic motivation.
As you might have gauged by now, a person has a higher chance of doing a particular task if he is intrinsically motivated or if he is doing it for his happiness and not because he is expecting any reward for it. But all the same, extrinsic motivation is nothing to be looked down on. Several studies have shown that external rewards do help in creating intrinsic motivation in a person who at first appear to have absolutely no interest in doing the task.
The key is to find a reason for doing something because it is personally rewarding. While it is not practicable in every case, intrinsic motivation definitely helps in completing our tasks (or achieving our goals and dreams, in the broad sense) successfully, without making it look/feel like ‘work’.