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Are You Motivated Intrinsically or Extrinsically? Why It Matters


Motivation is the driving force behind our actions, guiding us towards achieving our goals and fulfilling our desires. Understanding the different types of motivation and how they impact our behavior can help us harness our inner drive more effectively. In this blog post, we will explore the concepts of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, their differences, and why they matter in our personal and professional lives.

Understanding Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation refers to engaging in activities for their inherent satisfaction and enjoyment, rather than for some separable consequence. When you are intrinsically motivated, you participate in an activity because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable. Here are some key characteristics of intrinsic motivation:

  1. Passion and Interest: Activities that you are passionate about or deeply interested in can fuel intrinsic motivation.
  2. Personal Satisfaction: The primary reward is the personal satisfaction and fulfillment you gain from the activity itself.
  3. Self-Driven: Intrinsic motivation comes from within and is driven by personal goals, values, and interests.

Examples of Intrinsic Motivation

  • Learning a New Skill: Pursuing a hobby or learning a new skill because you find it fascinating and enjoyable.
  • Exercise for Enjoyment: Engaging in physical activities like hiking, swimming, or yoga because you enjoy the experience, not just for fitness goals.
  • Creative Expression: Writing, painting, or playing a musical instrument for the joy of creating something unique and personal.

Understanding Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, involves performing activities to earn a reward or avoid punishment. This type of motivation is driven by external factors, such as money, grades, praise, or recognition. Here are some key characteristics of extrinsic motivation:

  1. External Rewards: Activities are performed to receive external rewards or incentives.
  2. Recognition and Approval: Seeking recognition, approval, or validation from others can drive extrinsic motivation.
  3. Avoiding Negative Outcomes: Engaging in activities to avoid negative consequences or punishment.

Examples of Extrinsic Motivation

  • Work for Salary: Working a job primarily for the paycheck and financial stability it provides.
  • Studying for Grades: Studying hard to achieve high grades or academic recognition.
  • Performance for Rewards: Participating in competitions or challenges to win prizes or accolades.

The Importance of Motivation Types

Understanding whether you are driven by intrinsic or extrinsic motivation is crucial because it influences your behavior, performance, and overall well-being. Here’s why it matters:

  1. Sustained Engagement: Intrinsic motivation often leads to sustained engagement in activities because they are inherently enjoyable. Extrinsically motivated activities may only be pursued as long as the external rewards are present.
  2. Quality of Performance: Intrinsically motivated individuals tend to produce higher quality work because they are deeply invested in the activity. Extrinsic motivation can sometimes lead to a focus on quantity over quality.
  3. Personal Fulfillment: Intrinsic motivation is closely linked to personal fulfillment and happiness, as individuals engage in activities that resonate with their passions and interests.
  4. Long-Term Goals: Understanding your motivation can help you set and achieve long-term goals more effectively. Intrinsic motivation can sustain long-term efforts, while extrinsic motivation can be useful for short-term tasks.

Balancing Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

While intrinsic motivation is often seen as more desirable, both types of motivation play important roles in our lives. Here are some tips for balancing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation:

  1. Identify Your Passion: Find activities that you are genuinely passionate about and integrate them into your daily routine.
  2. Set Personal Goals: Set goals that align with your personal values and interests to maintain intrinsic motivation.
  3. Use Extrinsic Rewards Wisely: Use external rewards as a tool to enhance motivation, but avoid relying solely on them.
  4. Reflect on Your Motivation: Regularly reflect on what motivates you and make adjustments to ensure a healthy balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.


Understanding the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and how they influence your behavior is essential for personal and professional growth. By recognizing what drives you, you can better harness your motivation to achieve your goals and lead a fulfilling life. Whether you are driven by internal passions or external rewards, finding a balance between the two can help you maintain sustained engagement, improve performance, and enhance your overall well-being.

Incorporate activities that resonate with your intrinsic motivation, and use extrinsic rewards to complement your efforts. Reflect on your motivations regularly and make adjustments as needed to ensure a healthy and balanced approach to achieving your aspirations. By doing so, you can unlock your full potential and enjoy a more rewarding and meaningful life.


Yes, extrinsic motivation can sometimes evolve into intrinsic motivation. For example, someone might start exercising to lose weight (extrinsic) but eventually enjoy the activity itself and continue exercising for personal satisfaction (intrinsic).

Both types of motivation have their place and importance. Intrinsic motivation is often more sustainable and fulfilling, while extrinsic motivation can be effective for achieving specific goals or completing tasks.

To increase intrinsic motivation, focus on activities that align with your passions and interests. Set personal goals, seek out new challenges, and create a positive and supportive environment for your pursuits.

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