How to build up and sustain intrinsic motivation

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The thing about cliches is that sometimes they’re true. Take this one for instance: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Competition is the quickest way to demotivate yourself.

You may enjoy excelling, but you will realize the game is really within yourself to achieve greater personal growth. According to career analyst Dan Pink, there are two types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivation is rewards-based where things like fame or money drive your effort. Intrinsic motivation seeks a deeper purpose – it drives people to do what matters to them than what impacts the bottom line. Naturally, people that are intrinsically motivated play the long-game.

Purpose is what gets you out of bed in the morning and into work without groaning and grumbling — something that you just can’t fake.

A Gallup study shows making $75k a year does not make people happier; in fact, they are more likely to fall into the trap of jealousy and bitter competition. Dissatisfied people always want what they don’t have.

They say that having a backup plan can demotivate you as well. As Mark Manson wrote, “Action isn’t just the effect of motivation, but also the cause of it.” The doing mindset creates momentum. If you want to be consistent you have to “put your ass where your heart needs to be,” says author Steven Pressfield.

When it comes to motivation, consider focusing on why what you do matters rather than quitting just because someone else does it better. A ‘trying’ attitude put Jamaican Bobsleigh into the 1988 Winter Olympics–“being there” was like winning a gold medal.

When trying to stay motivated, try to keep perspective by practicing “objective optimism”:

“don’t replace “She’s better than me” with “I’m the best,” but, with something quantifiable, like “This presentation I made really looks great.””

The only way to hack motivation and avoid burn out is to enjoy what you do with purpose even if progress is slow. A thousand drips can fill a bucket.

 

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