Is it truly motivation you are seeking? I hear this all of the time, “I have no motivation to do anything!” or “How do you stay motivated to go to the gym?” Let’s break down exactly what motivation is, how it is applied, and if this is truly what you are seeking.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “Motivation is an enthusiasm for doing something, or the need or reason for doing something.” Motivation ebbs and flows. Motivation is more often than not fleeting. Why is that? Let’s break down motivation a bit to get a better understanding on how it is applied. There are two different types of motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic. According to Psychosocial Rehabilitation Specialist, Kendra Cherry, Intrinsic motivation is when you “engage in behavior because you find it rewarding. You are performing an activity for its own sake rather than from the desire for some external reward. The behavior itself is its own reward.” In other words, Intrinsic motivation is derived from within because it is that behavior you find naturally rewarding. A good example of this would be going to the gym. You feel motivated to go to the gym most days because you find it naturally satisfying and leaves you feeling physically and mentally great. But what do you do on those days you just don’t feel like going to the gym? Do you go anyways or do you skip it because you just aren’t feeling it? Chances are, for most of us anyways, you just skip the gym on days we aren’t feeling motivated or just don’t want to go. Even though going to the gym provides an internal happiness, it doesn’t necessarily provide that extra push to keep us going. That brings us to Extrinsic motivation.

Kendra Cherry states that Extrinsic motivation is “when we are motivated to perform a behavior or engage in an activity because we want to earn a reward or avoid punishment. You will engage in behavior not because you enjoy it or because you find it satisfying, but because you expect something in return or avoid something unpleasant.” In essence extrinsic motivation is essentially a reward-driven behavior. A good example of this would be your current job. You are collecting a paycheck to do a job and that is what keeps you motivated to keep doing your job. If you get fired or quit then the paychecks stop, right? So, with all that being said, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation seem to influence human behavior on some level. The key difference between the two is where the motivation is coming from and how it influences human behavior.

It is absolutely true that people operate differently and seek different things to keep them going. Some may flourish with extrinsic motivation while others flourish and are quite content with intrinsic motivation. But what happens when that reward is taken away or you just don’t want to perform a behavior on a particular day? My point here is that constantly seeking external or even internal rewards is not a permanent driver and not always effective. While there are positives and negatives to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, it is important to note that intrinsic motivation can at times be influenced by external rewards. So again, I ask, is it motivation you are truly seeking or is it something else?

I think what we all seek is drive. Drive is what keeps us going for the long haul. Motivation is truly what gets you started, but it is drive that keeps you going. Think of it this way; motivation is the match to start the flame and drive is the log to keep the flame burning. Drive is innate and something that you are compelled to do. It is a need. It is a compulsion and passion. “With drive and a bit of talent, you can move mountains. I know. I’ve done it,” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Motivation sucks compared to drive! With drive, nothing is going to stop you from what you are trying to do. You will keep going no matter what. Think to yourself, are you seeking motivation or drive? Drive is what is going to get you to your goals. Sure, motivation will get you started, but as you can tell by now, motivation isn’t what is going to keep you going. Find your drive and motivation will naturally come!

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