Psychologically-speaking, motivation is characterized as a process. This process has several functions which contribute to our well-being. In order for goal-oriented behavior to not only occur, but be maintained, it must first be initiated, and then guided. And this happens when motivation is present.
While there are many types of motivation, they can all be attributed to intrinsic or extrinsic factors. We are motivated intrinsically when our goal-oriented behavior occurs from within. For example, a person may be intrinsically motivated to complete a difficult task due to the desire to overcome the challenge that task presents to them.
Extrinsic motivation occurs when our goal-oriented behavior occurs as the result of something which happens outside of us. Examples of extrinsic motivation are when we receive incentives or bonuses, praise from employers, friends or family, or money. Some people rely on career coaching to provide a source of extrinsic motivation.
A successful motivation process must progress through three stages, which are activation, persistence, and then intensity. We must first have the desire to do something. Then, we must apply continued effort toward its successful completion, regardless of the obstacles that we may face along the way. Lastly, the intensity with which we pursue something determines how rich of an experience we have during the process.
What motivates you? Do you need to have a good enough reason to get out of bed in the morning, or do you jump from your dreams, ready and excited to be facing a clean slate in the form of a brand new day? We all differ in what motivates us. However, what’s interesting is that one cannot be sustained by intrinsic or extrinsic motivation alone. Sooner or later, we all crave one or the other. Some may say this is simply human nature.
Unfortunately, being intrinsically-motivated presents great challenge, and rightfully so; we are all concerned about what others think of us and how they view the things we do and say. And so we try and do our best to please everyone. But this is an impossible task. In trying to be everything to everyone, we can quietly lose our sense of who we are. When that happens and there’s no one left to please, what have we to rely on?
This is why it’s important to also create an environment within us which can help us endure during periods when extrinsic motivators may be few and far between. Confidence to believe that we are perfect just as we are, regardless of what is happening outside of us can go a long way to maintaining positive mental health and well-being.
But how do we get there? Ironically, the process is identical to motivation: we must first decide that we are going to make a change. Then, we persist with intensity. Persistence is often the most difficult part of becoming intrinsically-motivated, and can often be the point where we can find it too overwhelming, exhausting or painful to continue.
If this is the case, then concentrating on the good things at the end of a journey can help. Consider the quality of relationships now, and what they could be once intrinsic motivation is achieved. Or think about how wonderful it will be to rise each day, knowing that you have something special and valuable to contribute, regardless of how others may choose to rate your efforts.