For a very long time I thought that intrinsic motivation is the same as self motivation. Recently I have been conducting a research to better understand intrinsic motivation as it is a by-product of a workshop that I have been conducting which helps the participants to discover their life purpose through a self discovery journey. The workshop design is based on life coaching techniques.
It was only by chance that it crossed my mind to search online if there is any difference that I need to know about between the two terms; intrinsic motivation and self motivation. I was just conducting this research thinking that I will find nothing and I was really surprised to find an article that actually talks about the difference between those two terms that I always took as exchangeable terms.
The article that I found talks mainly about athletes and studies what makes a successful athlete from a motivational aspect. The funny thing about this article is that it treats extrinsic motivation in the same manner as it deals with the term external motivation. Yet once it explains the difference between intrinsic motivation and self motivation it continues studying intrinsic motivation.
The difference as explained in the article is quoted as follows, "Intrinsic motivation is about enjoyment and immersion in an activity, whereas self-motivation can involve an internal pressure to perform well, which is part of personality. Intrinsic motivation comes with a complete absence of any internal or external pressure to perform well. Most people can recall a time from their childhood when they were playing a game with friends that was so enjoyable that they were entirely engrossed in what they were doing; it didn’t matter who won the game, and the time just flew by because they were having such a great time."
To me this is an amazing discovery as it is teaching me not to use the self motivation term anymore. It appears from the above difference is that self motivation is closely related to self discipline and pushing ones self to excel based on internally set criteria. Yet this means that self motivation a term that accompanies certain amount of pressure that one puts on self to perform better.
In the study of life purpose and in the field of helping people discover their life purpose we talk about being and feeling in flow. When activities are conducted within the life purpose parameters, we feel no pressure, no obligation and no tier. On the contrary, we feel fulfilled, energized, willing to do more and never think of the time or effort spent. Those feelings are closely related to the intrinsic motivation term and are far away from what we understand today about the term self motivation.
My initial interest in the area of self motivation comes from the fact that we are always asked to be self motivated. Many self help books and even books that are within the business field talk about the advantages of self motivation as opposed to people who depend on external motivating sources. This is so true, and I totally agree that self motivation is an important factor for success and depending solely on external motivation does not bring the results that we desire and we are always in danger of losing interest if we did not get those external factors to keep us going forward.
As much as we have read about the importance of self motivation as opposed to external motivation, it has become a must in any field to be self motivated to achieve the desired success. Today I have to main issues with this concept:
The first issue is that as much as all the books talk about the importance of self motivation, no book talks about igniting self motivation and how would importance become self motivated. Well at least this is not found in the business books. I have not researched other disciplines and I am sure I would find such answers in books of psychological background.
Yet an average person, specially in the business world, would not search in psychology books to resolve the self motivation aspect so as to know how to ignite it. Even training courses and workshops that talk about self motivation and its importance do not show a step-by-step approach on how to become a self motivated person. Those courses and workshops only talks about its importance and the difference between a self motivated person and another who is externally motivated.
The second issue is that today I no longer believe that self motivation alone is a driver for success. I believe that external motivation is required to complete the success formula whether in the business world or any other area. As much as self motivation is important so that we keep on going forward without relying on external factors, but the eagerness for external rewards and motivational sources is equally important so that we keep on pushing the bar and able to excel in whatever we want to achieve.
Finally, and after understanding the different motivational terms discussed in this article, I would work today to tap into the sources that would make me reach intrinsic motivation and at the top of such motivation is the feeling of being in flow. That feeling of utter satisfaction and fulfillment. To tap into intrinsic motivation we need to make sure our needs are satisfied and that we are living our values at all times.
To be able to satisfy our needs and live our values, the first step is to be able to identify those needs and values before we are able to work on them. Such is a process which is out of the scope of this article but for sure it is a process that each one of us should conduct.