Being motivated does not mean the same as motivation. We cannot fool ourselves into feeling motivated with the ‘fake it till we make it’ approach. We need to actually feel intrinsically motivated for long term achievement.

Commonplace ideas around motivation actually do not work for long term habit building. This is the ‘psych myself up’ sort of motivation where you listen to motivational speeches in the morning or look at your vision board.

All types of motivation are not the same and they were not created equal.

Extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation is classically what we think of when we think about “motivation”. It is often associated with rewards and recognition, but in essence, it is any reason we do the work other than the joy, or satisfaction, of doing the work itself. Anything we promise ourselves for doing the work or anything that we get as a result of doing the work are all extrinsic motivators.

Conversely, intrinsic motivation refers to the activities you do because you enjoy the activity itself, or feel it’s important. It’s intrinsic to the work and it is for the love of it. When you are intrinsically motivated you do the work because it is internally satisfying. You would do it even if they didn’t pay you. It is the feeling of being in flow or feeling driven without the need for external motivators.

Honestly, how many times have you succeeded in your goals when trying to force yourself to do something you are not intrinsically motivated to do? Compare that with how many times you have succeeded in something you did, just because you loved it. Don’t get me wrong, extrinsic motivation is not bad; it is simply a poor driver for sustained effort and success. Without this sustained effort, you will not form long-lasting good habits.

Be motivated to do what you love

Think about a time you tried to psych yourself up for something you didn’t really want or did not feel intrinsically motivated to do. Perhaps you even went through the effort of making a vision board or setting smart goals. Maybe it worked the first time or for a week but I can almost guarantee that it did not work for you in the long term and may actually cause more harm than good. All you are doing is fostering a dependence on a temporary and unsustainable emotional state. The next time you have a bad day you will fail because you cannot psych yourself up to do the thing. There will always be bad days and you will still need to make the effort in order to succeed.

While writing this I am reminded of the Mark Twain quote “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” If you can find what your intrinsic motivations are and find a role or career that ticks those motivation boxes, then you will probably start to feel more motivated, energized and in flow than you have before. 

A good career drivers or motivations assessment can help you figure out what your biggest intrinsic motivators are to help guide you in your future career path.

About the Author

Paula is a Psychometrician, Business Psychologist and certified NeuroLeadership Coach. Over the last decade, she has worked as a consultant to help organizations thrive and as a coach to help individuals reach their untapped potential. Paula has accumulated a considerable wealth of experience as she has worked with people in all business levels, from companies all over the world (such as Africa, the UK, Middle-East, and Asia), as well as across many industries (from telecommunications to banking, mining, insurance, finance, and academia)

She loves facilitating workshops and using assessments to support companies in the full employee life cycle from recruitment and development to planning for the future. Her mission is to help people live more effective, more fulfilled, and happier lives.