Whether browsing a bookstore or the internet it might seem like every Tom, Dick, and Harriet is promoting a book about motivation - or becoming a motivational speaker. But why the sudden interest? Is it because we are not fully aware of what motivates us? Or others?
Motivation energises us; it gives us purpose, and guides and directs our behaviour towards a goal or specific need. Motivation fuels our desire to achieve goals. If we are motivated, we are driven to be successful and to fulfil our true potential.
Something that is motivational is (1) energising and activates behaviour; (2) directive as it guides you towards satisfying a goal or a specific need (for example, being afraid motivates you to run away from danger or being hungry motivates you to eat); (3) helpful in guiding us to persist in our behaviour until we reach our goal or meet our need; and (4) variable in strength as some things can be highly motivating, others less so.
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
There are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is when you are motivated towards taking action that might not be rewarding in itself but lead to a reward or goal . As an example, working overtime and showing initiative at work in an attempt to earn an increase in pay, earn a bonus, earn time off from work, or even earn a promotion. Intrinsic motivation is when you are motivated towards taking action or engaging in activities that are themselves rewarding. In other words, it is internal . It refers to being personally motivated or having a personal desire towards a particular goal . For example, producing high-quality work, overcoming a challenge, or interacting with members of a team that you trust and like. Another example of intrinsic motivation would be helping others because it makes you feel good. When extrinsic and intrinsic motivators clash – i.e. when a job rewards someone for working against their personal values, individuals typically experience higher levels of stress, discomfort, and anxiety.
Why is motivation so important?
We may not always be able to control the extrinsic motivators in our environment. Therefore, we may be better off striving to understand and work with intrinsic motivations - both our own and other people’s. What makes us get out of bed in the morning? What is our ‘why’? People who are intrinsically motivated gain a great deal of enjoyment and satisfaction from what they do, and also tend to work harder and more creatively.
How, then, do we go about understanding our own and others’ intrinsic motivations?