Revisiting Internal Motivation

We’ve previously looked at external motivation. Today, we’re going to shift gears and look at its companion – internal motivation. Where external motivation derives from tangible or experience rewards you receive or give yourself for your work, internal motivation is being motivated by your own emotions and goals.

Internal motivation is a powerful driver. When you experience that deep sense of satisfaction from facing and defeating a challenge, it gives you a little boost of self-confidence and enables you to face the next challenge, and the next challenge, and the next challenge. Knowing that you’ve done one thing encourages you to try the next thing because you can probably do it, too. Having this collection of successful attempts behind you helps you become more confident in your ability, and emboldens you to take future risks, to push yourself.

Internal motivation can also help you become less competitive, because you know what you can do and feel less driven to prove yourself to someone else’s standard. This in turn allows you to spend more time working toward your own goals and through your own challenges rather than get lost in someone else’s need to decide if you’re “worthy”.

While all of that sounds pretty good, internal motivation can come with a pretty hefty downside. When you’ve built your self-confidence up through this hard work and the satisfaction that comes with it, it can sometimes lead to thinking you can do anything without actually considering what that “anything” might be. This can manifest as arrogance or extreme risk taking, which can endanger your life. So, while you’re working and gaining skills and confidence in your skills, you also have to develop a bit of modesty – You know what you can do, and you allow that there are things you may not be able or willing to do.

The important thing to remember as you’re looking at external and internal motivation is that neither is better than the other, and we really do best when we have a mix of both in our lives. If it’s helping to move you forward without getting lost, it’s a good thing.


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One thought on “Revisiting Internal Motivation

  1. Pingback: Habitica’s Game and Social Mechanics | Genius in Transition

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