Motivation is what allows us to get work done, and is instrumental in deciding our future. Therefore it is only natural that we want to be able to understand and develop our motivation. Motivation in itself is a much too broad topic to discuss in one article, so we will narrow it down to just extrinsic motivation in this one.
One of the key drives in our lives is the want to create a better world for ourselves, also known as extrinsic motivation. So let’s get right into it!
What Is Extrinsic Motivation?
Extrinsic motivation encompasses all the motivators based on some external reward, such as food, money, recognition etc. It is a type of motivation that we are all familiar with. We have all studied hard for our exams in high school & university even though most of those exams covered subjects in which we had absolutely no interest. We studied so hard and put in so much effort because passing those exams was a prerequisite to obtaining our degree. This degree is what gave us the opportunity to build a successful life for ourselves, which was the main motivational driving force for putting in all that work for those exams.
Extrinsic motivation exists with the sole purpose of making our future life better. It sacrifices our current time, in exchange for a future reward. People who are able to sacrifice instant gratification for future benefit utilize their extrinsic motivation very well. We will get into ways you can use to be able to delay instant gratification and to become more motivated to work for your future self!
Just like intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation can also arise out of negative situations. For example, you might be motivated to bully another student, so that you will fit into the ‘cool kids’ group at your local school. For this reason we should be cautious and conscious of why we do what we do. One of the best ways of understanding extrinsic motivation is to look into ways that we can use to increase the effect of extrinsic motivation on ourselves, as well as discussing the different styles of extrinsic motivation.
So let’s delve right into 3 ways to increase the effect extrinsic motivation has on us!
3 Ways To Increase The Effect Extrinsic Motivation Has On Us
1. Make Sure To Use Proper Rewards
It can often be quite difficult to find the reward-to-work completed ratio. The right kinds of rewards depends on the type of person you are. For me personally, I use the 50/10 method to spike my productivity. This means that for every 50 minutes that I work, I allow myself a 10 minute break. Note that what I am allowed to do in my breaks is limited. For example, I do not go browse social media. I answer any urgent texts that need to be answered, but else I’ll just listen to some music, or go outside for a small walk.
Other strategies that are often employed by other students could be that they allow themselves to eat a piece of candy after every 10 pages studied. I am personally not a big fan of these food goals. While I do appreciate their effectiveness, they bring with them negative diet effects. In a lot of my articles I stress the importance of a healthy diet for many reasons!
Whatever strategy system you use, make sure it will allow you to keep living a balanced life. Use reward systems that positively influence your health on all aspects. Another example could be that you are allowed to take a 20 minute nap after 4 50/10 sessions. If you are curious what this 50/10 method is, make sure to read more about it here!
I will list some more examples of reward systems for completing both short term and long term goals.
Short term goal reward system:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Socialize with friends
- Read in your favorite book
- Journal about your feelings
Long term goal reward system:
- Book a dinner reservation at your favorite restaurant
- Go on a day trip to your favorite city
- Treat yourself to a good night out with friends
2. Continue To Set New Goals
Make sure you have a succession of goals lined up for yourself to pursue. This helps you see the bigger picture of what you are really trying to achieve. Once you start seeing how much progress you are making towards the realization of your dreams, the more your motivation to keep pushing will increase!
I have always been of the opinion that you should set big goals for yourself. When you start to gain experience in setting goals, you will know what kind of goals you should be setting that are perfect for your level.
It is also important that you break your goals down into smaller bits. Take for example a university student. They will all have the goal to graduate and obtain a degree, but if they leave it at that, they are very unlikely to succeed. Goals have to be practical. What will it take to achieve that goal? Set goals such as, I will study 2 hours every evening after class. If that goal is achieved everyday, you will surely end up with that degree!
3. Make Your Extrinsic Reward System A Habit
To be able to get the most out of your intrinsic rewards, you have to turn it into a habit. Turning this into a habit will teach your brain that there will be a reward every time it completes that specific action. This solidifies that extrinsic motivation in yourself.
What Extrinsic Motivation Styles Work Best For You
Now that we have discussed how we can make the most out of extrinsic motivation, we should go in-depth and discuss what kind of styles there are. If we are able to understand the different scenarios in which extrinsic motivation can arise, we are more likely to be able to rely on it happening.
So let’s get right into 3 extrinsic motivation styles and see which one you can use and when to use it!
Fear can be a very powerful external motivator, and it is something we have all experienced before. At some point in your highschool and/or university career, you have studied like a true madman for a quiz or an exam. Often times simply out of fear from knowing that your parents would punish you if you failed!
Many of us attribute fear to be a negative emotion, but it can have a positive side as well! Fear of something bad happening can be one of the most powerful motivating forces in the world. It is also what powers our flight or fight response! That fear of being hurt has such a powerful effect on our bodies that it can make us do unnatural things. Think of the classic example where a mother lifts up a car because her child is underneath it and in distress.
If you are worried about your future, focus on that fear, and let it overcome you. Don’t hide from it, instead make sure that you acknowledge its existence. It might be a scary thing to do, because that fear can be used to get to work and ensure your future is full of happiness and success.
All humans are innately born as social creatures. We all look for human connections and aim to build meaningful relationships, some of us to a higher extent than others. The internal need to form these connections can be a huge motivational drive for us. We want to be accepted by a group or community, so often time we are motivated to change who we are just to fit in. Imagine how powerful this social effect is if we are ready to change who we are just to fit in!
We can also make a close link to the previous point of ‘fear.’ A fear of missing out (FOMO) on social activities can be a real problem for certain individuals. They will spend their entire day worrying about missing out on activities with their friends. This is a prime example of negative extrinsic motivation.
Individuals with FOMO often times live an aesthetic lifestyle. Make sure you try and stay away from the kind of life!
The most common type of extrinsic motivation is incentive based. You go to the gym 5x per week because you want to look good. You study hard for your exams not because the subjects interest you, but because you want a high paying job that the degree offers you upon graduation. These are some example of incentive driven motivational forces.
They are not fear driven or socially motivated. You are purely motivated to put in the work now because it will make your future life better and easier. The main drive here is the thought of yourself in the future having already accomplished that goal. That simple daydream of already having that reward and result can be a powerful motivating force!
Extrinsic motivation is a major factor in our lives, and we should all understand it to make the most use of it! I hope you learned a little bit more as well as enjoyed yourself by reading this article! I wish you all the best for the future!