Have you ever wondered why you do the things that you do? That is, what drives your behavior into actions for motivation, goals, and purpose? Your motivation to complete anything, especially important, can be categorized into two types – intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation both drive behavior and have rewards attached to them. The difference is not only the type of reward but the feelings associated with them while in pursuit of the goal and after it is obtained. Understanding intrinsic and extrinsic motivation will set you with the right motives for goal setting.

Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation arises from outside incentives. It often has to do with rewards that are external and often satisfy someone else.

Examples often are tied to and include:

  • Financial: Meeting sales goals for a bonus or promotion at the end of the quarter.
  • Self-esteem: Working out so you can look good in the eyes of a companion/friends/others.
  • Perception: Completing a race for an award.

Extrinsic motivation focuses on the future, not the present moment.

Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation arises from within. Often, there is no tangible reward attached, as the task itself is the reward.

When you are engaged in something that is intrinsically motivated, you will notice:

  • Personal Achievement: Reading and learning because you genuinely enjoy it and have an interest in the topic. There is no grade, or reward attached.
  • Satisfaction: Writing or publishing a blog (or anything else) because you want to share knowledge, not make a profit out of it (if you do, this is a bonus).
  • Inspiration: Working out every day to get stronger and feel better mentally and physically.

Intrinsic motivation focuses on the present, not the past or the future.

Goals: Intrinsic & Extrinsic:

We all set goals as a way of planning and visioning for the future to achieve a desired result or outcome. The key to goals is creating a meaningful goal – something that is important to you. When we talk about why we set goals and how we are going to accomplish them, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play an important role.

Intrinsic Goals

Intrinsic motivation will often give you a greater insight into goals setting in finding a place where you are really in your element. This can also be called “being in the flow”. Being in the flow brings a place of great achievement. When you create goals with intrinsic motivation as the driving force, you:

  • Maintain flow or concentration
  • Give your best effort because it is meaningful
  • Are present in the moment and happy (the current state brings satisfaction and the meaning/impact carries on into the future).

Extrinsic Goals

Extrinsically motivated goals often have a focus on external awards. There is often not a meaningful goal because one is seeking external validation.

With extrinsic motivation, you’ll find that you:

  • May be tempted to procrastinate because there is no real flow. The journey of the goal is less important and you are looking for the end satisfaction.
  • There is a high desire to get the reward, but you are not motivated to excel after or to perfect the performance.
  • Are doing it for the sake of the reward and there would be a reluctance to complete the goal if no reward were attached.

Motivation from Within

Those who pursue intrinsic goals are motivated from within and tend to be more happy and successful on their terms. When you are fulfilled based on your needs, you will pursue goals that embrace happiness, competence, success, and empathy. Being intrinsically motivated – from within – also leads to becoming more “extrinsically successful” because you will naturally receive awards and rewards.  For example, you write a blog on health because it is important and interests you (intrinsic motivator). Likely, others will look to you for advise and input and monetizing will follow (extrinsic financial reward). The key is that the focus is on the need (intrinsic motivator) and not the want (extrinsic reward).

As you set goals for the upcoming new year, be sure to keep intrinsic motivation top of mind. You will not only reach your goals but you will be internally validated.