Extrinsic and Intrinsic Rewards, or What Really Motivates You to Be Healthy

Put a steak on that end of that stick and then maybe...When you look back and think about your health journey (or your life in general), what have been the motivations that got you where you are today? Has it been a competitive spirit? An incessant curiosity? An individual sense of purpose? An ambitious drive? Inherent in these questions are the broader trends of initiative. Do you tend to seek out external challenges, validations, feedback to push yourself, or are you more often buoyed by personal inspiration? What impels you the most: the outcome or the pursuit? For many people, it’s a combination of both, and their answers depend on the activities in question. Nonetheless, knowing what most effectively motivates us in a particular endeavor can change the game in substantial ways.

We’ve all heard of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations at some point. Although some experts don’t support the dichotomized differentiation, the framework offers a usable guide for examining what we’re driven by in our health efforts.

Extrinsic motivation looks generally outward – to obtaining a specific “reward” (e.g. recognition, award, money, or other concrete benefit), participating in competition, or contributing to a team endeavor. On the flip side, extrinsic motivation also encompasses our interest in dodging an unwanted external consequence. In short, it’s about working to achieve (or avoid) an external outcome of sorts.

Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, plays off of our internal interests and values. We do what we do not because we’re interested in what we perceive to be a beneficial outcome or reward but because we’re invested in the process itself. For example, we want to train not because we care much about where we finish in a race but because we just love the release of working out – of seeing our usual path, of enjoying how we feel during and after a run.

When it comes to the usual comparison, let’s face it. Sometimes extrinsic motivation gets a bad rap. Extrinsic motivations are often categorized as shallow or unenlightened compared to intrinsic interests. For example, we might be made to feel guilty for working to look good naked, so to speak, but vanity can have its time and place. I think the effectiveness of extrinsic motivation, however, suggests we’re simply human – that we’re a social species capable of learning from one another and responsive to our circumstances. After all, we evolved within an environment of constant reward-penalty feedback.

Intrinsic motivation can fuel our creativity and sense of inner purpose, but it doesn’t negate or diminish the legitimate significance of an extrinsic view. As critical and enriching as intrinsic motivation can be, for example, when excessively imbalanced, it can be isolating for some people. Likewise, many of us eventually come up against a wall when pure interest in the pursuit (e.g. fitness) doesn’t push us to farther distances or new dimensions the way looking outward can. Extrinsic motivation needn’t be just about unbridled materialism or fierce rivalry. It can just as likely put us in meaningful collaboration with one another or give us important perspective on the value or relative accomplishment of our efforts. Sometimes, it can give us a needed change of pace. The fact is competition is fun when it’s fair, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a reward or recognition.

When we recognize that human truth and basic effectiveness can be found in both intrinsic and extrinsic incentive, we open ourselves to larger realms of possibility. The question becomes this: how do we harness the benefits of both to optimally foster our motivation for healthy and happy living? I hope you’ll add your thoughts, but here are a few to consider.

Cultivating Intrinsic Motivation

Create a Vision Board

Intrinsic motivation, I think, has a lot to do with personal clarity. What vision do you have for developing your health (or self)? What does thriving look like to you? Use everything from quotes to visuals as you hone your vision.

Keep a Personal Journal

Use the journal to examine what activities you find positive and fulfilling (e.g. a new yoga class, developing your strength with a new resistance training commitment). Get in touch with the subtle personal effects of the changes and progress you’re making. Write about how an activity or new health choice feels for you – what it does to your mood, your sleep, your energy, your confidence. Envision how you’ll go deeper into each goal and continually check in with yourself.

Applying Extrinsic Motivation

Identify Desired Incentives

Again, putting our natural inclination toward extrinsic motivation to work means understanding what kinds of external factors drive us the most. Do you appreciate recognition or enjoy looking good? Some of us might relish competition, while it has others running for the hills.

Seek Out Challenges and Collaboration

Participate in activities like semi-competitive team sports or seasonal gym “challenges” that offer you just enough pressure to push yourself to new gains, enjoy group contribution, and enjoy the opportunity for recognition. Start a photo journal that showcases the positive changes you’re making in your physical shape as well as overall health.

Use Personal Devices or Online Tools for Virtual Challenge

Everything from PaleoTrack to a Fitbit can help you track your progress and enjoy meeting goals, but take advantage of other tools that impose unpleasant results (e.g. lose money you put up front) if you don’t meet a particular goal or that offer a virtual rallying as you work toward an objective.

Now, what say you, readers? Where do you find the motivation to push yourself toward new health endeavors or into deeper, more challenging terrain?

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

I hope you’ll take the poll and offer your insights into the sources and strategies of motivation. Thanks for reading, everyone.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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66 thoughts on “Extrinsic and Intrinsic Rewards, or What Really Motivates You to Be Healthy”

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    1. I absolutely agree. and to add, if external motivation is the major drive, what a hard thing to overcome when circumstances keep us dry in that area!

  1. I think a person’s tendency for extrinsic/intrinsic motivation stems internally, but can be magnified by your environment. I personally tend to be more extrinsically motivated; I thrive on affirmations from other people, and I’ve always found myself striving to meet what I thought was an expected outward standard (looks, weight, status, money). However, when I lived in Las Vegas, my extrinsic motivations were massively intensified. The culture and the environment there presented a lot more pressure to be skinny, live outside my means, impress people etc. Then I moved back to Colorado, where there is a lot less pressure for material things. Here, I’ve found it much easier to focus on my intrinsic motivators (like the desire to be healthy vs. skinny, have financial peace vs. expensive handbags). So I think there are some environmental factors at play too.

    1. Vegas to Colorado… good choice. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

    2. I mostly work out because it feels good but certainly am also motivated by the beautiful breadth of my back from swimming and my runner’s legs.

      per the image
      only an ass will go after a carrot
      (look up phrase origin 😉

    3. Good point! the best thing that happened to me and my family was a business failure that adjusted our lifestyle. The beautiful outcome…happiness. Resting in our Faith, and enjoying simple things in life.

  2. I especially like how you didn’t give extrinsic motivators a totally bad rap which they normally getting a lot of the psychological articles that I read.

    I find in my practice of Brazilian jujitsu that I need to find a balance of both. It’s always great to win a match because that fulfills a lot of my extrinsic motivators in terms of winning in the eyes of others and in the eyes of my opponent however being primarily focused on that is detrimental to my training long run because It doesn’t give you a good way of dealing with losses, and in training, you frequently lose a lot more than you win.

    However when my motivation is intrinsic I see myself doing it out of sheer joy for the activity and only compare my progress to myself as a measuring stick.

    Everyone learns at a different rate, and when I learn things slower compared to my peers it’s helpful to recognize my own progress compared to myself rather than my progress compared to my peers.

    So I see the important role that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators play in my own journey.

    1. Good point. I think they are just different.

      Sometimes external motivation doesn’t have longevity, sometimes it does.

      The kid that was small his entire life may be externally motivated to be bigger and stronger than everyone else so he won’t be bullied anymore.

      That may drive him for 10+ years, much like the drive of a person raised poor who never wants to be poor again.

      But I wonder after they achieve “it” how their behavior and mindset changes. I’d like to see more research on that.

      I think we are just an extrinsic-heavy culture because extrinsic usually wins in the short term.

  3. My extrinsic side will work on neutralizing the effects my diseases. I also enjoy the benefits of looking and feeling better. My intrinsic side likes the routine of keeping track of my journey. Did I get that right?

  4. I find that the two feed off one another. For example, I started going to the gym for intrinsic reasons (wanted to feel better, stronger and all) but once I started going I got a lot of external motivation as well (people doing cool stuff and simply being around fit attractive people – and people who are working really hard). This, in turn got me doing things I otherwise might not and led back to the internal motivation to get even fitter and stronger and enjoy doing it.

  5. I am almost entirely intrinsically motivated but use extrinsic motivators to give me an extra push. I keep a daily journal and have a vision board on my desk but also enjoy looking good and tracking my progress. I also use public accountability to give me a kick when I need to.

  6. I find that I find the value and desire to act intrinsically, but the extrinsic factors (e.g., acknowledgement/affirmation, peer support) greatly shape how I motivate myself.

    If the extrinsic facets validate my inner monologue, I’m ready to go, but if there are no extrinsic factors (or they counter my intrinsic motivation) I tend to lose my inner motivation and only have focus on the material motivation.

    I like to think of the quote, “be the change you wish to see in the world,” but upon too much external resistance, sometimes it’s just working for a paycheck.

  7. I am spending this year ( on the Jewish time cycle) exploring exactly this topic in all of my life. I feel that I can not have other goals before knowing myself better in the realm of true health. It is all encompassing. My whole life has been chasing better “health” in order to perform duties for others. Perhaps it is what drew me here. But I see that though seen as noble, my endeavors were misguided and imbalanced. Also not healthy or very caring of myself. I keep coming back to this site because it helps me find the health and balance necessary to know what I value so that my goals really are mine. I am just now beginning to see that I am living best with a balance between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation but that whatever kind, it is at its best when it is coming from my priorities. I can be strong enough to take care of my needs and health and inner peace. To be me, which is great for all the people I take care of.

  8. I gave up a long time ago. Now I just make this meat puppet dance to see what happens next. I know better than to dream. And all the rewards people talk about in life? They’re hollow and only serve to perpetuate the game. My apathy has given way to mad curiosity. I want to watch these pink monkeys for a few decades and see how much trouble they cause for themselves, because it’s funny. I roll out of bed because I know I get to watch people hurt themselves and suffer needlessly, while refusing common sense. It’s PURE COMEDY and I wouldn’t miss it, even for the welcoming velvet cradle of death. That’s the main reason I got healthy, so I could watch the jerks who cut me down drop like the flies they are. Motivation? Yeah, ultimately I guess it does translate to motivation.

    1. Damn,
      Crossing that line into pure apathy for the world?
      I’d hate to be you. Philanthropy is much more fun.

  9. You should have had another voting category: “I don’t completely buy into the dichotomy”. Who is to say what a person’s real motivation is; also, one category might be the other in disguise, etc.

    1. Bingo. This subject is planted solidly in philosophy.

      I like to help others (and myself) because it makes me feel good. So extrinsically helping someone does me intrinsic good…

      … or does it? Does the smile on my face then inspire someone else to help me?

      So if giving is greed, then greed is a meaningless term, and therefore, there’s truly no difference between intrinsic and extrinsic for me.

      Now don’t bake your noodle: I just go with the flow, say “please” and “thank you,” hold open doors, and live (mostly) Primally.

  10. My start on my journey to health was definitely extrinsic – I wanted to look good naked. But what keeps going today is intrinsic – I love feeling good. As such, I can’t fault extrinsic motivation. Whatever it takes to get you moving!

  11. Vanity is the reason I don’t look like the rest of my family. I have always been primarily concerned with what I look like on the outside. Since going Primal, however, I have come to the realization that feeling good on the inside is highly motivating. So now I look good on the outside, feel great on the inside. Primal for life, baby!

  12. I think mine ebbs and flows back and forth. Initially it was extrinsic – wanting to lose weight to look better. There was an intrinsic aspect too – I am a motivated person who can enjoy the process as much as the end result. Now it’s probably more intrinsic, although some sprinkling of extrinsic is certainly nice [compliments, competitions, etc.]

  13. Here’s how I would differentiate between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: When someone asks why you do something, if your answer “I dunno, I just effing love it,” then your motivation is intrinsic. If not, then it’s extrinsic.

    When you embark upon something you think will be good for you, you will typically need an extrinsic motivation to get you started, and once (if ever) you effing love it, then the intrinsic takes over. That’s an amazing feeling, when you cross over.

    1. Yes, it is an amazing feeling. And the funny thing about life, in my experience, is that more I am intrinsically motivated (the more I do something for its own sake, because I love it, because it is WHO I AM, not because I am trying to get something) the more extrinsic rewards I get. When we seek something outside ourselves we often don’t get it; but when we follow our own heart, the external rewards come without effort.

    2. Yes! I’m generally very much intrinsically motivated– my work, hoopdance, gardening, studying, sprinting are all their own reward to me– but I am longing for the day when I don’t need an external push to lift weights. I still have to force myself either with fear or vanity. I hear people talk about the rush of lifting being awesome but for me it’s more misery than joy!

      1. Have you tried bodyweight exercises as opposed to lifting weights? From what you’ve described a lot of your intrinsically motivated activities occur outside, and weight lifting is usually an indoor sport. Would it be motivating to ditch the iron and start bodyweight training at the local park?

      2. That’s an interesting point.

        Like you said, for me I like the feeling after, and since I’m crazy sedentary, I need it.

        But on the days where I haven’t slept enough I don’t have the energy and don’t force myself.

        What about bodyweight exercises or even yoga? I know people that do 2-5 yoga classes a week and some are pretty muscular looking.

    3. Exactly! I started swimming this summer to stay in shape while healing from running issues. When people suggested swimming in the past, I always replied with, “I run because I hate to swim”. But, surprise, surprise, I have absolutely fallen in love with swimming. I love the reward (better shape than I’ve ever been in) but more than anything, I so so so love being in the water. Back to running a couple of days a week, which I also love, but so happy to have a found a new love to balance it all out.

      And yes, I am extrinsically motivated; who doesn’t want to look good naked? I’d have to say that’s what motivates me to do push-ups and squats. Fortunately, that’s a quick workout and easily knocked out!

  14. Normally I would describe myself as intrinsically motivated – for instance in sport I’ve often been congratulated for winning, when inside myself I know I’m not particularly satisfied with my performance. On the other hand I can still vividly remember the rare occasions on which a boss praised something I did, and what a huge kick that was. So maybe it depends on circumstances….

  15. I felt worse and worse with myself, physically (almost sick at times) so I figured I’d rather be healthier than more unhealthy … it is more pleasant to live healthy than not …

  16. This post reminds me of the Gail Sheehy quote: “The prizes of our society are reserved for outer, not inner, achievements. Scant are the trophies given for reconciling all the forces that compete to direct our development.”

    I dig it, Mark!

  17. I’m still not sure which way I’m motivated based on the definitions. Knowledge was my push after reading books about what certain foods do to your body and I was tired of feeling like crap. Plus I relished the idea of sticking it to bigagra by not buying their junk anymore. But now, I can shop in the misses department, so there’s some of that…

  18. I am motivated by both feeling great and watching the numbers on the scale drop, and watching my muscles develop.

    I am motivated by the endorphin high of a great workout at the gym (in less than 30 minutes) but also the praise from people who see little ol’ me crank out 6 pull-ups in a set.

    I am motivated to eat organic, locally produced food because it is better for me and better for my community.

    I am motivated by the hope of living long and dropping dead, with no parma-induced health issues because I’m treating my body with care.

    Extrinsic and intrinsic, they keep me loving the life I am living.

  19. I had an intrinsic moment 6 years ago when I was very ill and decided I didn’t want to die, and then realized the medical world had nothing to offer but pills of questionable value. I started reading then and haven’t stopped, and that’s how i got to this point.

  20. Another approach to motivation is from Robert Spitzer, called the 4 levels of happiness model.

    Level I is the physical, the pleasurable. Food, sex, comfort, drugs, exercise fall into this category. Level I happiness tends to be intense but short lived, and also tends to become less intense over time and demands higher and higher stimulation to provide the same pleasure.

    Level II is ego happiness; comparative happiness. It’s the happiness of winning. Level II can motivate a lot longer than level I but can also become obsessive and separate you from your tribe. Only in modern times could that be survived. As a doc I have a big dose of Level II!

    Level III is service to others. It’s the glue that holds the tribe together and we are wired to find it pleasurable. Service can be motivating for a lifetime: think Mother Theresa, Ghandi, etc. Most of us docs have a healthy dose of level III as well.

    Level IV is the search for the transcendent, the perfect. Grok had burial services for his dead; the idea of the transcendent is tens of thousands of years old. We still have it. This can be the ultimate motivator.

    For more reading try this:
    Written by a PhD in philosophy of science.

  21. I’d say I’m mostly intrinsic.. I’ve been somehwat overweight since I hit puberty but it never bothered me too much until I hit about 230 lbs so I went on Low carb and went back down to 190 but THEN i got pregnant and stopped my diet.. After my pregnancy I was a wreck. Battling for small moments of serenity in the midst of school, work, and raising twins my health started to deteriorate. I became arthritic in my hands (i’m 26 btw) I had pain in my knees and shoulders and I was tired ALLL THE TIME and THATS when I decided I needed to change. I tried all types of sleeping schedules and nothing worked. I even went vegetarian for 6 months-ish. I thought about doing Low carb again but I wasn’t really concerned with the weightloss, I just wanted to feel good again and I was concerned it wasn’t the safest diet. Then I by some miraculous accident stumbled upon the sweedish Diet Doctor that believes in the high fat low carb diet and also frequently refers to this blog. So I started my diet about a month ago.. I still have not stepped on a scale but clothes are loose, I have CRAZY amounts of energy, my arthritic hands and knee pains are GONE, just straight up gone not even a lingering tinge.. GONE! and my shoulders feel a little bit better every week.. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO SPREAD THE NEWS ABOUT PRIMAL LIVING!

    I’m actually planning to call my mom today and have a serious talk with her about her health too. Wish me luck.

  22. I wrote a post called “Win from Within” discussing the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation as well as exploring some of reseach Deci and Edwards have done on the subject. In a nutshell, we are born with intrinsic motivation as our primary driving force. Consider a toddler learning to walk for example. They are not paid to learn how to walk. They don’t write contracts or set goals. Rather, they have a desire and, despite innumerable failures along the way, they keep going, seeking freedom, creativity, expression, and experience. We are born intrinsically motivated and we simply have to rediscover it to succeed and be satisfied as adults. You can read my original post here… https://www.fitnessinanevolutionarydirection.com/2012/04/win-from-within-how-to-get-yourself.html

  23. There’s so much overlap between what may be extrinsic or may be intrinsic that I’m not so sure we can be terribly accurate in labeling our motivators one or the other.

    The decades of work by psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi (whom Mark has blogged about) can be distilled to this idea: We humans do things because of how they make us feel. Stated a bit differently, how something makes us feel has a huge bearing on whether we keep doing it.

    For purposes of this post, here’s what I take from that: Looking good can’t be pure vanity, and it can’t be a pure extrinsic motivator, because looking is good (and things like that) are things we like the feeling of. In other words, it feels good to look good. So the line between intrinsic and the extrinsic is blurred. The two are overlapped.

    Some of the success stories on this site illuminate this overlap. For example, in the story by Elizabeth (entitled “Now I Feel Like A 21 Year Old Should Feel”), she wrote:

    “I now feel full of energy, like a 21 year old should feel, and I love the way I look, though I’m still trying to put on some more muscle because why not be hot and strong?”

    See what I mean? The line between extrinsic and intrinsic is so blurred that it’s not really possible to accurately label her motivators. Elizabeth loves the way she feels, and she gets some of that feeling from looking good.

    Go Elizabeth! Go all of us who put effort into this stuff!


    1. Good point Susan – That’s one thing I wish he mentioned: Flow!

      I’m a HUGE student of Doc. C, and I think more people need to find out about his work.

      The only problem though is the mind: many decisions we make are not logical at all, but are emotional.

      Logically we know working out = we will feel better after and will get into better health.

      Emotionally we think “Aghhh it’s so draining, I just don’t feel like it right now, I didn’t sleep well.. etc.”

      I agree sometimes the line is very very blurred, but it’s often easy to notice people intrinsically motivated versus those extrinsically motivated.

      The intern ones don’t feel bad about days off – they are casual and cafefree, and go when they want, and stop when they want.

      In the short run they may not win, but in the long run they usually do.

  24. To paint it in broad strokes, my doctor said if I had any interest in being healthy at 63, I’d better start at 53. I was able to dramatically decrease all my dangerous levels of blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure after just two months of living by the primal blueprint. I was also able to purchase and comfortably wear my first slim fitted dress shirt. Ying and the yang – a healthy balance of the body and mind.

    An added benefit is to be able to spread the word – by word of mouth, weight loss, and increased muscle tone. It feels good to share the benefits with friends.

  25. Best way to motivate me is tell me I can’t do something. Worst way is to tell me there will be a reward for doing it. I will fail if a reward is on offer, but move heaven and earth to prove you wrong if you dare suggest there are limits on my ability.

    Dumb, but I’ve learnt that is how my brain works.

      1. Not a real reward. The jerky would be unlikely to make it through quarantine even if you got my contact details. It has to be real or it doesn’t work.

  26. I just want to LGN. Maybe I’m just shallow?

    Well, wait, that’s not entirely true. I want to LGN and feel good, too. But it’s hard to feel bad when you LGN 😉

  27. I first discovered the external benefits of being intrinsically motivated when all the sudden I noticed abs after months of daily yoga practice. I’d ditched the gym and practiced at least 10 minutes a day in my apartment with no mirrors. How cool is that…external benefits coming from an intrinsically motivated (just to feel good) yoga practice!

  28. I went primal 8 months ago for strictly intrinsic reasons. But now that I’m seeing a new shape in the mirror and into a smaller size I’m becoming motivated by the extrinsic values as well. I say whatever motivates you is fine as long as you are doing things in a healthy, sustainable manner.

  29. I think the two are definitely linked. I train and eat well for myself because I want to look in the mirror and be happy with what I see. I want to feel great and feel like I’m being the best I can be for me but I can’t deny it’s a big motivator when you receive a nice compliment.

  30. As a teenager I started working out only because of extrinsic motivation. I had been playing handball for many years being intrinsic motivated (the game, the team, it just gets you going), but I couldn’t image this for something simple like weight training and running. So I began, just gave it a try and while time passed I got more and more involved into the thing, learned to understand my body and even reached for flow moments, that today I’d say I’m at 50/50 now. I can’t clearly say which stimulus prevails, it varies from time to time.

  31. I workout and eat a primal diet to try and be as healthy as I can at age 65. However, Grok wasn’t concerned about extrinsic/intrinsic motivations. He was motivated by survival: hunt and gather or die. He didn’t have any other options.

  32. Not gonna lie.. At 40 (closing in on 41) knowing I look better than a lot of gals half my age in a bikini is all I need to keep up my lifestyle. Heck it’s even a great way to motivate those same young gals to start a primal diet.

  33. I find that reminding myself that my capacity for extrinsic desires – provided that the objects of them are rational – is proof of my capacity for intrinsic desire (and vice versa). It’s senseless to say that a person values health intrinsically or extrinsically – or even one or the other at different times.

    If you don’t actually deserve what you desire extrinsically, you don’t actually desire it – and even the desire won’t last over the long run. For example, the desire to have a sexual partner who, physically, is very fit for sex – when you yourself are not – is not proof that you want to be physically fit, but that what you desire are the peripheral benefits of what people someone who has satisfying sex provides (envy, power, influence, etc).

    Similarly, if you desire something intrinsically (ie: for it’s own sake), again, you don’t actually desire it. You desire something else – since possessing a value that doesn’t actually provide you with value isn’t really a value (ie: what does it mean to be “fit” if the question of “fit, for what?” has no answer?). What you desire is the vanity of wanting something “for it’s own sake” and not “just for what it can do for you” (a notion that is widely accepted and admired in this culture).

  34. I found my intrinsic motivation when I started having health problems and I found that my inner values aligned more with eating better than taking a lot of medication. That gave me the Ooomph to really make the changes stick rather than jumping from idea to idea.

    That being said… I’m becoming more appreciative of extrinsic motivation these days. Why? Because it’s fun, it can give a spark of inspiration to the day-in-day-out grind of managing a chronic illness, and because it can help create shared community motivation and support. I used to think of it as all flash and no substance, but I’m changing my mind on that.

  35. I think, like Mark said, its important to strike a balance. Ironically, in the past I tended to be extrinsically motivated yet possessed an internal locus of control. Translation: I would freak out about the number on my paper or test and beat myself up if it wasn’t where I wanted it, because that number was under my, and only my, control. Lately, and I think this in large part has to do with a more primal lens in every dimension of my life, I’ve tried to reverse it a bit. I haven’t stopped working hard in school (or in my health goals, of course). However, I’ve tried to focus more on LEARNING and growing healthier rather than a grade point average or a number on the scale. Also, I’ve tried to accept that not everything can be placed under my control. I can only do my best, and further anxiety about “results” will not produce any greater benefits! While grades and external health benefits (i.e. a new sexy body, that I love!) still keep me motivated, I think a big part of growing up and maturing this past year especially (I’m 21) has been figuring out what is important in my life TO ME, without looking at external factors all of the time! This post is especially timely as I’m trying to figure out what the h*** I want to do with my life in a year once I graduate college . . .

  36. A lot of the examples mentioned as extrinsic motivation, are actually categorized as introjected regulation… One of the inbetween categories. Check out Self Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan) for more details. As a motivation researcher, all forms play a necessary part in behavior…. I’m not sure which articles people have read claiming otherwise. It is generally accepted that intrinsic motivation is higher correlated with long term maintenance of health behaviors than extrinsic though.

  37. I don’t know why, but I get most motivated when I buy new supplements. Just the other day I bought 4 of them. Pre-workout product, post-workout, during workout and a gainer. Now I am hitting the gym almost everyday.

  38. I am in the category of “don’t really buy the dichotomy”, or at least “not sure how to really perceive the difference”.

    Being from Europe (more precisely from France), I may not feel the same pride of being intrinsically motivated that I perceive as typical among American (wrong perception?). The more intrinsically motivated you are, the more a winner you are supposed to be in life, a potential entrepreneur…

    Individual competitiveness is a bit less highlighted in european societies (maybe especially in France)… I think. So there is maybe less of a social pressure to appear as a gifted winner in life.

    So, coming from this background and seing the overwhelming majority of reported intrinsically motifivated people on this board (and all those being self-evaluated), I can’t help wondering if the very feeling of being intrinsicaly motivated couldn’t be itself an external motivator. Just wondering…

  39. I find the motivation swings back and forth between intrinsic and extrinsic, depending on the day, my mood, etc. I wonder if there is a way to keep things on track once they are begun? Certainly the vision board, journal, etc. are fine ideas, if used routinely. However, there are days when it just isn’t there. What are some techniques to “jump start” the motivation fire on those slow days?

  40. After watching the brilliant documentary, ‘Happy’, I realized that my extrinsic values (although I wasn’t necessarily living just extrinsic values) were skewed and my perception of it was unbalanced.

    I am trying to value intrinsic values much more which is what this website to me has always been about – the focus of being positive, valuing small communities of friends and family, doing things you want to do rather than what you think society expects you to do.

    I am not saying looks and feeling confidence in appearance, career isn’t important but I am trying to get away from that a bit more and focusing hard on how to build better relationships with ‘my tribe’ – my mother (sounds cheesy but I have started giving her a hug for the first time after 30+ years etc), my friends, my lady and so on…

    I am enjoying being myself again and really being the best me for the people nearest me, rather than the rest of the world.