types of motivation

3 Types Of Motivation

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We all have a motivation that comes and goes.

Some mornings you wake up energetically to go to work and complete your to-do list. Others press the alarm clock, curse the morning and give themselves five more minutes to dream of putting their warning on and taking the first flight to a tropical location.

Not to mention the peaks and valleys we experience in just one day. First thing in the morning (with a workout and an espresso under the belt) we feel like a walking advertisement for motivation. When the afternoon snacks begin, we count the hours before we can throw in the towel.

But identifying the “why” behind the actions you take can make it easier to find the motivation to do them in those days when you don’t feel inspired. Whether you’re dragging yourself to the gym or fighting a mental battle with procrastination at work, making a mental shift to reconnect with your source of motivation can give you the drive to do so.

Types of motivation

The reasons are mainly divided into two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic. Good news if none of these do the job. Researchers have identified a third type of motivation that is extraordinarily effective.

Extrinsic Motivation

Most likely, many of the things you do every day are extrinsically motivated.

According to research published in Contemporary Educational Psychology, “Extrinsic motivation is a construct that is applied every time an activity is performed to obtain a separable result”.

How to exercise to lose weight, learn to speak Italian to impress your friends, or get to work on time to avoid being scolded by your boss.

“The extrinsic motivation is doing something about the external rewards you get from it. In your career, this can include financial gains, benefits, perks, and even avoiding getting fired, ”says Shawna Clark, owner of Clark Executive Coaching, a leadership development company.

When you find that your inspiration is waning, refocusing on external rewards is a quick way to re-commit to a goal or activity, whether it’s doing well at work or sticking to an exercise routine.

If you’re complaining about your commute (to do a job you’re not passionate about), try focusing on external rewards, whether it’s the paycheck that pays the rent, health insurance, or even free fruit at the bar. to motivate you.

Related: Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic Motivation

The journal of Psychology of Contemporary Education defines intrinsic motivation as doing “an activity for its intrinsic satisfaction rather than for any separable consequence. When intrinsically motivated, a person is driven to act by the fun or challenge that comes with it rather than by external products, pressures, or rewards. “

Hopefully, you have a handful of actions you take every day that fall into this group. Your job may not provide obvious sources of intrinsic motivation, but maybe you go for a run. Because you enjoy the experience of pulling the plug and hitting the sidewalk or helping your neighbor climb stairs. because it’s really cool to do it.

“Intrinsic motivation is doing something because it makes you feel good. You feel internally rewarded for doing it, “says Clark.” In a job, this can be doing work that feels intentional, enjoying time with your teammates, or achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Let’s say, for example, you are a financial advisor and you feel real satisfaction in being able to help people manage their money in a way that improves their lives. Or you are a marketing executive who loves brainstorming new campaigns with colleagues.

Many people find it more difficult to identify the sources of motivation in this group. (Who really likes to run or spend 40 hours a week behind a desk?)

Internal Motivation

However, there is some compelling evidence that encourages all of us to identify our sources of intrinsic motivation. In a 14-year data study, researchers analyzed the motivations and achievements of more than 10,000 cadets arriving at the West Point Military Academy.

What they found was that cadets with primarily internal motivations were about 20% more likely to pass the training than the average. (Additionally, those with external motivations were 10% less likely to pursue a military career and 20% less likely to be promoted soon.)

Just because you don’t immediately see the connection to your work doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Take a step back and look at the role you play every day and look for sources of success or purpose.

For example, you may not care much about the product your company sells or you may not find satisfaction in receiving phone calls, but as a customer service representative, you can focus on feeling good about the people you have been able to help throughout the day. and use it as a source of motivation to keep working hard.

Related: Intrinsic Motivation


Finding intrinsic motivation is not always easy, especially for people like us who are not passionate about their work. Fortunately, there is a way to compensate: think about your family.

This has emerged as a third source of motivation that has proven to be a strong source of inspiration, even for those who don’t feel intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to do something.

A new study published in the Academy of Management Journal looked at a group of blue-collar workers whose jobs involved doing the same mundane task day in and day out, with no reward for a good performance.

One might think that in the absence of both an intrinsic and an extrinsic motivator, workers would have little incentive to work hard in their roles. But what the researchers found is that some people lacking both types of motivation are still stimulated by a third factor called “family motivation.”

Support Family

Those who identified with the phrase “I want to support my family” felt more energetic and behaved better every day, even when they didn’t find a pleasant job and had no financial incentive to do so.

“Family motivation can be related to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. If the family is one of your core values, then your family can serve as an intrinsic motivator. If you feel pressure or family obligations, then that’s more of an extrinsic motivator, ”says Clark.

As organization psychologist Nick Tasler puts it, “Every job, whether you are washing the dishes or performing kidney surgery, offers us the opportunity to assert our identity as capable and respectable individuals, whom the most people can trust. important in our life.. “.

We’ll keep this in mind next time we spend the afternoon discussing our mailboxes.

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