Motivation: it’s what drives us to action and inspires us to achieve. As a brain mechanism, it allows us to initiate and maintain effort, which is necessary if we want to persist at anything (or even just get up in the morning!) It’s no wonder that feeling motivated is so crucial to not only career success, but feeling fulfilled and accomplished in general. By Gemma Leigh Roberts
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
Motivation falls into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is when you take part in an activity for its inherent satisfaction. You pursue it simply because it’s fun, a challenge or an opportunity to learn and explore. Usually, the things people enjoy as hobbies are intrinsically motivated.
In contrast to intrinsic motivation, we experience extrinsic motivation when we’re motivated by attaining external rewards or avoiding punishment. When we do things for reasons like money, praise, or because we’ll get in trouble if we don’t, it’s because we’re extrinsically motivated.
The chances are, at times, you’ll experience intrinsic motivation at work and others extrinsic. motivation. Even if we love what we do, we are often driven to a degree by an adequate salary, opportunities for development, recognition from peers, and other external incentives depending on what we value. This isn’t a negative; extrinsic rewards can be a source of feedback, making less fun aspects of our job feel worthwhile and motivating us to acquire new skills and knowledge. The extent to which we are intrinsically motivated at work varies. Some people want to do their job even if they aren’t paid, while others prefer to leave their true passions outside work.
Tapping into intrinsic motivation at work
Research shows that external motivation is excellent in the short term but dissipates over time. When behaviour is motivated internally, it increases positive emotions, providing a sense of progress and accomplishment, and contributes to feelings of meaning, which can build contentment and confidence over time. As Ruth Gotian explains in her book “The Success Factor: Developing the mindset and skill set for peak business performance”, there are some ways you can utilise intrinsic motivation in your working life:
→ Link your actions to something you care about: Find meaning in what you’re doing by focusing on the value you’re providing, the purpose of the task, and how it helps others. This is easier to do if you identify your values – if you need some help figuring it out, check out this quick coaching video on Instagram:
→ Look for the fun: Think about which aspects of your job make you most engaged and start doing more of them. Volunteer for tasks even if they fall outside of your usual role, talk to your manager about helping out in different areas, or think about how you can bring a bit of your unique style of fun to work.
→ Focus on mastering skills: Keep yourself challenged. Set yourself goals that are attainable but that allow you to stretch your knowledge and improve your skills in some way. Focus on your progress instead of any external gains and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you – this will open you up to new opportunities and inspire you to push yourself.
→ Help someone: Volunteering for a charity, lending a hand to a friend who needs it, or doing something for others without expecting anything are great ways to nurture your intrinsic motivation. A top tip is to become a role model or mentor.
→ Value togetherness: Nurture the camaraderie in teamwork and having a shared objective with others. Enjoying the companionship of your colleagues and having a sense of belonging can sometimes be reason enough to feel motivated in your work. As Ruth puts it, “Find your tribe…discovering an entire group of people who want to work together toward a common goal is the ultimate reward.”