Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation: How To Stayed Motivated All The Time

Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Motivation
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On this earth, every person is doing some movement at any given time. Even during sleep, a person will do some movements. No person wakes up without having done any movement during the sleep. Why it is so? Not only human beings but all living creatures do movement. It is the constitution of the body that the living creature can’t sit without doing any movement. We can relate these movements with motivation though the motivation is mostly governed by the mind.

What is Motivation?

Motivation is the reason behind people’s actions, willingness, and goals. Motive is the need that requires satisfaction. These needs can either be wants or desires. Motivation may be desired by some other person’s act, success, or speech. It can also be self-generated as well. There are numerous examples of persons who were idle in life, got motivated because of some incident, and done a great job. After spending most of their life lazily some people have transformed into workaholic.

Motivation is a feeling which when possessed is not easy to get off it. By the time one desired is fulfilled another one has already caught up with the person. Such people are motivated all the time in their life. Motivation results from both conscious and unconscious factors. Remaining motivated in a field like medicine or other fields of cut-throat competition is of a very high quality. It needs a lot of control over self not to get deterred by any untoward experience.

Science of Motivation

Motivation can be conceived as a cycle in which thoughts influence actions, behavior, drive performance affects thought and the cycle begins again. Each step of the cycle is composed of attitudes, beliefs, intentions, effort, and withdrawal. This all can affect the motivation that an individual experiences. Most psychological theories mention that motivation purely exists within the individual, but socio-cultural theories say that motivation is an outcome of participation in actions, and activities within the cultural context of social groups.

Theories of Motivation

One of the theories states that the man is inherently good and the individual possesses a constantly growing inner drive that has great potential. It is a hierarchy of needs. People are motivated by unsatisfied needs. The basic to most complex needs are classified as below

  • Physiology (hunger, sleep)
  • Safety/Security/Shelter/Health
  • Social/Love/Friendship
  • Self-esteem/Recognition/Achievement
  • Self-actualization

This is a pyramid type theory where physiology is at the base. If you have not slept/eaten sufficiently you will not worry about your self-esteem.

What is Intrinsic Motivation?

Intrinsic motivation is doing something which satisfies you or you enjoy doing it. intrinsic motivation is related to psychology and neuroscience. It is defined as the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than some separable consequences. If a person is intrinsically motivated he will act for the fun or challenge involved rather than because of external products, rewards, or pressures. He will do that act because he likes or enjoys the satisfaction he would get after doing that act. He will not worry about the returns on his actions because he never expected any. there are some ways to get self-motivated or make others to be motivated.

  1. Empower with a feeling of conscious choice.
  2. Set a greater but achievable goal
  3. Introduce the system of rewards
  4. Remove negative motivation
  5. Increase learner’s self-esteem
  6. Give instructive and honest feedback
  7. Encourage good work
  8. Ask for feedback and personal interests

The major benefits of intrinsic motivation are as follows

  • It leads to a greater persistence
  • It increases the involvement of the people
  • Learning from intrinsically motivated people are more effective
  • People perform better when they are intrinsically rewarded
  • If employees, they stay longer if intrinsically motivated.

Intrinsic benefits are automatic, and come directly from compliance, and are all essentially emotional/psychological/spiritual. Intrinsic is something you have in by nature. It comes from within. For example, dogs are loyal. It is their intrinsic.

What is Extrinsic Motivation?

When you are extrinsically motivated your behavior is motivated by external factors pushing you to do something expecting a reward or avoiding something negative to happen. Reading a book to pass a test, doing exercise to lose weight, or cleaning home because guests are coming, are types of extrinsic motivations. Extrinsic motivation is not good because it creates pressure and, opposite to what you may think, our brain doesn’t work well under pressure. The levels of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine decrease. However, there are advantages of extrinsic motivation if used in the right way.

We now will discuss the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation theories

At first thought, one might have the impression that it is always better to be intrinsically motivated than extrinsically motivated. Self-motivation will always help to achieve high levels of tasks and so on. But the actual scenario might be different. Intrinsic motivation will not lead you anywhere if you are working in a team. As a solo leader, you can achieve great heights but then too, at every step you need others to support you. You will finally find that you are doing excellent but you are not getting the required result just because other members are not performing.

Also read10 Best Motivational Books 

Take the example of Sachin Tendulkar. There is no doubt that he is a batting legend. But if you closely see his captaincy record, you will find that he failed as a captain. What is mentioned above, the same thing has happened to him. Though he was exceptionally intrinsically motivated, the contribution from him alone did not help the team to win.

If you are an employee given a project to complete and if your manager is repeatedly praising you for project progress or if there is huge a commission or promotion after project, even you would be motivated to complete the project with satisfaction. As a student, you get extrinsically motivated you will be willing to additional subject because you will get additional marks on it.

These are the simple examples of extrinsic motivation which gives a clear idea that like other things this also has both sides of negative and positive. Sometimes you can get splendid results from an extrinsically motivated person who might have been termed as a dummy in earlier life.

When Intrinsic Motivation is Best?

It is found that praise helps to increase intrinsic motivation. Sincere feedback promotes good work and the standards of work are high. However unnecessary praise towards the minimal of work might work opposite and decrease the intrinsic motivation. For one to understand better, before motivating externally always measure the value of work and praise accordingly. Otherwise, the motivation is at risk of a decrease.

If you are a manager, make sure that your praise is specific, empowering, and helps your sub-ordinate to understand your expectations and standards clearly. Be intentional with your praise and positive feedback. Also, ensure not to give too much appreciation to the work which is of less value for your team or they may lose intrinsic motivation.

If you are a solo performer and individual contributor, give your manager positive feedback and tell them when their feedback helped you to improve in your work. This will work in both directions. If you give them positive feedback then you will be extrinsically motivating them to manage you successfully. This explains how to be motivated.

Also readTips to stay motivated and stress free during Job search

When Extrinsic Motivation is Best?

Some people are not made for getting intrinsically motivated. However, some of them can do excellent work if they are extrinsically motivated. Rewards like praise, commissions, bonuses, or incentives may help to promote to complete the task which they would otherwise not complete. An award for learning new skills also is extrinsic motivation. This also needs to be handled carefully. Extrinsic motivation of too many rewards for the work of people may reduce the intrinsic motivation of them for the same behaviors and activities. This may happen because the people may find enjoyable activities like work and it may kill their interest.

If you are a manager then use extrinsic rewards like empowerment to your team so that they can take up new responsibilities and achieve big targets. The effective way to reward your team for new learning may be bonuses, commissions, and promotions. Ensure you are assigning the projects to them of their interests, and also providing them time and resources to accomplish them.

If you are an individual contributor do not over-exhaust yourself in projects just for the sake of extrinsic rewards. Along with the work of completing the project and getting a reward, make sure that you are giving time for your interests. Keep yourself balanced in personal and professional work.

How to stay motivated all the time?

Sometimes we find ourselves too busy with work or motivating others to work. In all this, we forget to keep ourselves motivated. The time should not come that we may feel ‘now I want to motivate myself’. What are the things to do to remain motivated all the time? Here are some tips –

  • Build a business around your passion – Job or business whatever you do, try to choose the one which interests you. Enjoying the work will keep you motivated.
  • Always have short-term and long-term goals – Write down and review short-term and long-term goals. Each short-term goal completion is a step towards a long-term goal.
  • Be extremely positive – Always look positively towards all the incidences. The momentum will be lost with a single negative thought. 
  • Focus on the end goal – Concentrate on your end goal even if you fail at some point. Be focused and motivated to achieve your target.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded people – Working with like-minded people will present a great opportunity as there will be constant exchanges of thoughts and ideas.
  • Establish a Personal Reward system – Simple but regular rewards to your team in case the goal is achieved will work wonder. For example, if you are arranging some snacks every week-end after completion of the target, will enhance the spirit of your team.


There are always two sides to a coin. You win or you lose but remaining motivated is of utmost importance. If you win you can add another feather to your cap. If you lose you can learn and start over once again for the next game.

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