The concept of motivation and what motivates a person to complete a task is interesting, not least because of the idea of intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.
To keep it short: Frederick Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory states that people are influenced by two factors. One of these is motivation, which is needed to motivate higher performance. The other is hygiene, which is needed to ensure that the individual doesn’t become dissatisfied.
Herzberg’s theory related to employees and their motivation whilst at work, but this can be taken out of this context and into any situation.
Splitting the factors down
The two factors each have different characteristics: motivation factors can also be called intrinsic motivators, whilst hygiene factors are extrinsic motivators.
Intrinsic motivation comes from within.
Person A only needs what’s inside them to complete task X, because they have all the motivation internally. They perform an action or behavior because they enjoy it.
The motivation is less tangible and more emotional; with rewards such as gaining recognition or growth potential.
On the other hand, extrinsic motivation comes from external sources.
Person B needs encouragement, advice and incentives to complete task Y.
Their behavior is driven by external rewards, such as money, pride, or status.
It’s pretty clear which one is the better motivator, and which one we should try – as best we can – to implement in our lives.
Intrinsic motivation means we don’t have to rely on others. It allows us to complete tasks without needing any outside influence and, really, that’s the best way to be. You don’t have people around you 24/7, and you can’t have your friends, family, colleagues or managers bailing you out all the time either.
This type of motivation is a lot more productive; it is said that intrinsic motivators tend to create motivation when they are present, whilst extrinsic motivators often reduce motivation when they are absent.
Can you have one without the other?
We will go to the gym to make gains, get stronger, etc. and our intrinsic motivation will take us there because of the challenge and the reward we get from it. But often, it’s better to have an extrinsic motivator, such as a personal trainer or a friend alongside us, making us push through pain barriers and get more out of us.
That’s extrinsic motivation, and an outside force pushing us past where our intrinsic motivation can take us. Whilst it is important to learn to be intrinsically motivated, it is often just as good to have external motivators around you as well. There’s no such thing as too much motivation, after all.
What’s so good about intrinsic motivation, then?
Sure, if we perform better with a bit of extrinsic motivation, so we even need to be completely internally motivated? Of course we do. As noted above, when extrinsic motivators aren’t present, they reduce motivation: if our personal trainer isn’t there and we aren’t intrinsically motivated, will we get anything done?
I remember a time when I would skip the gym; when my alarm would go off and I would hear the rain hammering against my window and think ‘maybe tomorrow instead.’
But now, I have all the motivation I need inside me to get where I want to be. To live this lifestyle and to be motivated enough to go to the gym, to eat the right foods, to get enough sleep, to rest properly. And then I can utilise extrinsic motivation, such as my personal trainer, to my advantage and to push me as far as I can go.
Once you teach yourself that you are all the motivation you need, you won’t look back.