How Can I Be More Intrinsically Motivated?

Intrinsic motivation, also known as internal motivation, is the most reliable and long-lasting form of motivation. Let's talk about the 3 ways to build it.

This video is one of the chapters in my course "Productivity Mindsets & Time Management Tools". (And click here for a list of all my online courses.)

And if you prefer text to video, scroll down and you'll find the transcript below.

What is intrinsic motivation?

Internal motivation is the motivation we experience when we enjoy or want to do something simply because we enjoy or want to do it. When we’re not doing it for the rewards it will give us, but only because of our own internal desire to do it.

This type of motivation tends to be both healthy and long-lasting. It doesn’t rely on external factors, which makes it more stable. And while it can dip at times when we’re having a bad day or week, it can also last for an entire lifetime.

Examples of internal motivation include things like going for a long walk because you enjoy the activity and experience.

Playing a sport because it’s fun, and not because you’re trying to win a trophy.

Cleaning your home because you prefer it when it’s clean rather than messy.

Exercising simply because you enjoy challenging yourself.

Or learning a skill because it seems like a fun thing to do, rather than to use it to make money or gain approval from others.

For most people internal motivation seems to kind of just appear on its own. They couldn’t tell you when or why they started being internally motivated for the things they are, they just are.

And that’s perfectly fine. But it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make an effort to create more internal motivation for ourselves. Both for the things we already enjoy, and those we don’t.

Three ways to create internal motivation.

So let me share the three most common ways to increase our internal motivation.

Just keep in mind that these won’t all work on all tasks all the time. But the more you do them, the more likely you are to increase your internal motivation no matter how much you already enjoy a task.

To make these strategies easy to understand, let’s apply them to the activity of cleaning your home.

The first strategy is to find the fun.

Look for – or create– the fun in what you’re doing.

Even if cleaning the house isn’t something you think is particularly fun, there might be elements of it that you can make fun.

If you’re competitive, maybe you can time yourself or give deadlines to beat on certain tasks.

If you’re creative, maybe you can find fun and creative ways to clean.

Or maybe there’s something you can include in the task to enjoy it more. Such as if you like to sing, perhaps try making up songs about what you’re doing while you’re doing it.

When we apply things we already enjoy doing to a task our brain tends to transfer some of the positive emotions we have about those things to that task. And that makes us enjoy the task more and increase our internal motivation for it.

The second strategy is to look for the deeper meaning.

How can cleaning your house be important to you as a person?

Perhaps you’d feel a little proud of yourself if you became a more organized person?

Or maybe you can turn cleaning your home into a meditation type of thing?

Whatever meaning you can find in the activity can help create more internal motivation.

And the third strategy is to reframe your thinking.

This is about the motivating factors from your current ones, that aren’t motivating you much at all, to something more inspiring.

So if your old reasoning for cleaning, for example, was so that your friends or family would approve of your home, perhaps it will help to instead think about it as a way to practice being more responsible ,organized, reliable, self-disciplined, or whatever else might make it feel like a more valuable activity.

So to sum up: Our internal motivation tends to increase when we find ways to do or think about an activity that are more interesting, fun, or inspiring than our old ways to do or think about it.

Your exercise for this is to think about a task you can do that you generally don’t enjoy very much. And then apply one, two, or all three of these techniques to it.

If it doesn’t work the first time, keep at it. Come up with new ideas and do it again in a day or two. Once you find the right idea, odds are that your motivation for the activity will start to improve noticeably.

Hi, I'm TJ Guttormsen.

Since 2009 I’ve coached clients ranging from Olympic gold medalists and billionaires, to people who simply want more out life.

I’ve done over 100 national media appearances, published books, and created online courses that have earned several “Highest Rated” titles from their 11 000+ members.

Today I coach clients from all over the world, and teach seminars for business and events from my home in Las Vegas.

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