Intrinsic Motivation Explained (Examples & key factors to be Successful)

When it comes to staying motivated in college, most students will agree that intrinsic motivation is key. But what is intrinsic motivation, exactly? And how can you make sure that you’re tapping into your own inner drive? Intrinsically motivating qualities are highly sought. No particular phenomenon could reflect human nature’s positive potential as much as intrinsic motivation. When we do what we like, we’re like engines that need nothing. Some people are able to run marathons while others are doing maths and designing puzzles.

Definition of “Intrinsic” and “Motivation”

In order to understand intrinsic motivation, we first need to understand how intrinsic motivation is understood. Intrinsically, this translates to an inherent element in our own nature. Often called “inner”, this means the source of something. In psychological terms, the 2 main kinds of motivation are intrinsic motivation and external motivation. And, as you might have guessed, being intrinsic motivation refers to doing something to achieve something separate from the other. Ultimately, intrinsic and external motivation forms the basis for underlying beliefs, attitudes, and objectives of humans.

Motivation is self-determined- meaning it comes from within oneself. It is the desire to achieve a goal or the reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. Motivation is often driven by a person’s interest or concern in a particular subject or issue. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a well-known theory that suggests human motivation is based on different levels of needs. The most basic level of need is for physiological survival, such as air, food, and water. The next level of need is for safety and security, followed by love and belonging, self-esteem, and finally self-actualization. Self-actualization is considered the highest level of human motivation because it is driven by a genuine interest or concern in personal growth and development. While different factors can affect motivation, it ultimately comes from within oneself.

What is Intrinsic Motivation?

Intrinsically motivated persons are motivated by an internal motivation that motivates them not just by external rewards but also by completing an exercise. A person is motivated not for the outcome but for the enjoyment of doing a task. It’s a psychological trait that defines motivation as intrinsic.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation is defined as the desire to perform a behavior due to the personal satisfaction that comes from the behavior itself. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, comes from external factors such as rewards or punishments. While extrinsic motivation can help get people to start a behavior, it often quickly leads to a decrease in intrinsic motivation. This happens because extrinsic rewards tend to undermine people’s sense of autonomy and competence, two key drivers of intrinsic motivation. In other words, extrinsic rewards can make people feel like they are not doing something for themselves, but rather for someone else. As a result, extrinsic motivation is often less effective in the long run than intrinsic motivation.

For example, a child who is intrinsically motivated to learn to read may lose interest if he or she is only offered extrinsic rewards such as candy or prizes. In contrast, a child who is not intrinsically interested in reading may be more likely to continue if he or she is extrinsically motivated by rewards. Ultimately, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are important, and each can play a role in helping people achieve their goals. However, it is important to be aware of how extrinsic rewards can impact intrinsic motivation.

What are some examples of intrinsic motivation?

1. A sense of accomplishment

When you achieve something, it feels good. You get a sense of satisfaction and pride in what you’ve done. This is one of the most basic forms of intrinsic motivation: the desire to do something simply because it’s enjoyable and you feel good when you do it.

2. A sense of control

When you feel like you’re in control of your life and your destiny, it’s very motivating. You feel empowered and capable, and that drives you to keep going.

3. A sense of belonging

When you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself, it’s very motivating. You feel connected to others and to a larger purpose, and that drives you to keep going.

4. A sense of purpose

When you have a clear sense of why you’re doing something, it’s much easier to stay motivated. You know what the goal is and what you need to do to achieve it, so you keep moving forward.

5. A sense of challenge

When you’re facing a challenge, it can be very motivating. It gives you a chance to test your limits and see what you’re really capable of.

Why is intrinsic motivation important and How can we stay intrinsically motivated?

Intrinsic motivation is important because it can undermine human behavior. Self-determination theory postulates that human beings have a fundamental need for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. When these needs are not met, it can lead to a decrease in intrinsic motivation. In other words, intrinsic motivation is important because it helps people to meet their basic needs. Without intrinsic motivation, people would be less likely to pursue their goals and would be more likely to give up when faced with difficulties. In short, intrinsic motivation is essential for driving human behavior and achieving success in life. Focus more on the internal rewards. And how can we do this?

1. Define your goals

The first step to increasing your intrinsic motivation is to define your goals. What do you want to achieve? What are your long-term and short-term goals? Once you understand your goals, you can develop a plan to achieve them.

2. Find your passion

Another way to increase your intrinsic motivation is to find your passion. What do you love to do? What are you naturally good at? When you find something that you’re passionate about, it will be easier to stay motivated and focused on achieving your goals.

3. Set yourself up for success

Once you’ve defined your goals and found your passion, it’s important to set yourself up for success. This means creating a positive environment in which you can work towards your goals. It also means surrounding yourself with people who will support and encourage you.

4. Take small steps

Don’t try to accomplish too much at once. When you’re working towards a goal, it’s important to take small steps and celebrate each accomplishment along the way. This will help to keep you motivated and focused on the end goal.

5. Persevere

Anyone who’s ever achieved anything great will tell you that there were times it was difficult to stay motivated. What makes them different is they find a way to push through the tough moments. They received many no’s and negative feedback, but still, have the self-determination to keep going. When this happens, it’s important to persevere and keep moving forward. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and don’t give up on your goals.

6. Take care of yourself

Another way to increase your intrinsic motivation is to take care of yourself. When you take care of yourself, you will be more likely to stay motivated and focused on your goals. Do it for your own sake, not for monetary reward. For more information on getting healthy and increasing your well-being, you can look at our article for 9 ways to get healthy and stay healthy.

7. Reward yourself

Finally, another way to increase your intrinsic motivation is to reward yourself for your accomplishments. This can be done by setting small goals and rewarding yourself when you reach them. This will help you stay focused on your long-term objective.


What’s the best way to stay motivated? DO NOT undermine intrinsic motivation. When we’re driven by our internal desires and interests – rather than external factors like rewards or punishments – we’re more likely to stick with a goal or task until it’s completed. And that can spell success for any business owner or marketer. So how do you tap into your intrinsic motivations and use them to power your work? First, take some time to reflect on what really matters to you in life and your career. Once you have a good sense of what drives you, find ways to incorporate those motivations into your work. Whether it means setting personal goals alongside business goals or finding a creative outlet that helps you stay inspired, keeping intrinsic motivation front and center will help you achieve more over the long haul. What are some things you can do today to increase your intrinsic motivation?

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