If at first you don’t Succeed ask yourself – Why?

What makes the difference between those of us who will procrastinate until we can’t function and the people who tackle obstacles for fun? Were they born with some super gene that keeps them going? Do they have access to some illegal energy drink that we don’t?

This guy's trying to figure it out too.

This guy’s trying to figure it out too.

I can’t vouch for the entire population but there is one factor that psychologists have pin pointed. A difference between the go getters and do-it-laterers. Why we are motivated. Why do you want to go to the gym? What is the point in eating healthy? Why are you waking up early? Are you doing these things to avoid something? To gain something? Then you are being extrinsically motivated. Extrinsic motivation is carrots and sticks, rewards and punishments. It is an outside force motivating you. Those super powered beings? They are generated by intrinsic motivation, the desire to do something because they want to. It is motivation generated from the motivatee. Here’s an example; why am I writing this article? Am I writing it because I want to be a famous blogger or am I writing it because I enjoy it? If I’m writing it to be famous that’s an extrinsic motivator. Because extrinsic motivators can be intangible, like receiving praise or recognition, or avoiding shame. If I’m writing it because I enjoy it then I’m intrinsically motivated.

Now a lot of us have been convinced that rewards and punishments are always the way to motivate someone but this is not true. Extrinsic motivation can sometimes help but really once you put a price on something it loses that inner reward. Once you lose that inner reward well, no bribe or threat can really replace it. Intrinsic motivation gives us that push that even money can’t. Now after I learned about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation I kind of started to freak out. Everything I did was extrinsically motivated. I tried to read certain books to seem smarter. I went to the gym because I didn’t want to get fat. I worked my job because that’s just what grown-ups do. Everything I did was done because that’s what grown-ups do.

Then it dawned on me. Screw being a societal grown up. Screw doing anything because that’s “what you’re supposed to do”. I’d rather talk about magic than politics. Running around playing tag is always more fun than on a treadmill. Working a million jobs to avoid working one job I hate is worth it. I don’t care if I look like a responsible adult. Everything I did was extrinsically motivated because I had taken all of my intrinsic motivation and shut it down. My little spark was dying. My spark of curiosity and challenge, of passion and awe. I had allowed other people and outside ideas to determine what I should do. When I couldn’t force myself into that image, I felt inadequate. The thing is, I was never inadequate, I just had to actually be me.

When you’re trying to motivate yourself to do something, stop. Ask yourself; why am I doing this? Is this something I want? Do I enjoy this? Are these actions reaching towards a goal I made? Take the time to listen to your brain, instead of always stuffing it with more nonsense. Put down the so under ground it’s cool interest. Walk away from the images of what other people have told you to be. Find your little spark, and then make it a fire. Delve into the things you love and you will find yourself burning up with motivation. Keep that childlike wonder in everything you do. Turn to the challenges that you want to win. Chase after the things you are passionate about. Curiosity will take you farther than any candy bar could.

Whether your spark reaches for fantasy books, ultimate frisbee, knitting, or even world domination just go with it. And tell me about it! I would love to hear about your crazy dreams or geeky interests. I would especially love to hear how you feel about this post so let me know!

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5 comments

  1. Your discussion over extrinsic motivators and intrinsic motivators reminded me a lot of a Ted talk I think I saw a while ago, I can’t remember the details but I wholeheartedly agree haha, when you’re intrinsically motivated to go get a thing your fine burns even more with every new goal you accomplish. If all your motivators are exclusively extrinsic you eventually hit that point where you just question ‘why the hell am I doing this’ and you lose a lot of momentum with your hesitation. Great post! I agree go get what it is that you want and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise, trust your instincts about what’s best for you. Definitely like the blog topic, I decided to follow your blog wouldn’t mind at all if you dropped by and visited mine as well. And another follower would definitely be much appreciated! Best of luck in all your endeavors!

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    1. I saw that Ted Talk! It features Dan Pink. I loved it. Thank you for the interest and the follow. I’m happy you enjoy it. Hopefully my own intrinsic motivation keeps it going. Lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent reminder! And timely…I confess, I was feeling just a bit of frustration after stumbling across a blog by a 17 year old (with 17 year old things to say, no offense) that has well over 20k followers, and a book deal, but now, thanks to you, I remember that that is utterly and completely irrelevant to my life. Good for her! Good for me if writing makes me smile. Salud!

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    1. Absolutely! And no offense taken. I’m not 17. Although maybe I should take some more writing classes if I’m coming off as 17. Lol. But you’re right. Life is good when we focus on what we love.

      Like

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