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Intrinsic Motivation: What Is It & How Can It Help You?

By: Stuart Carter, Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1,

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

Intrinsic motivation
If you’ve ever wanted to achieve something simply because you know you can, then you’ve already experienced intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivationIt’s time you found out how to tap into your intrinsic motivation, discovered how you can use it to reach any goal you choose, and why it’s the best form of motivation.

So, take a quick journey with me and discover everything you need to know about intrinsic motivation, as well as a few things you probably don’t need to know!

What Is Intrinsic Motivation?

Intrinsic motivation is not new. Humans have been using it for as long as we’ve existed.

However, the science of motivation is much more recent and the inclusion of neuroscience is even more recent.

But, putting the studies aside, the basic concept of intrinsic motivation can be easily summarized in just one sentence:

It is the motivation to do something because you’ll gain satisfaction from it.

In short, you’re motivated to do it because you enjoy it, that’s it!

Examples of intrinsic motivation include:

  • Putting extra effort into a project without financial reward, simply for the feeling of accomplishment.
  • Taking a new class just because you’re curious about learning something, such as a new language.
  • Doing a sport because you know you’ll feel good afterward.
  • Undertaking regular exercise in order to beat your own personal best time.

How Is This Different To Extrinsic Motivation?

Extrinsic motivation is the opposite, you’re motivated to do something by an external factor, usually a physical reward.

One of the most common extrinsic motivators is a cash reward, especially in the workplace.

weight loss rewards can help

  • Working hard on an exam paper just to get a good grade.
  • Regular sports practice to improve and win an award.
  • Taking on extra at work because you’re getting paid to get the work done.

Unfortunately, research shows that extrinsic motivation is only effective for a specific project.

Developing your intrinsic motivation will allow you to achieve much bigger goals and maintain them in the long term.

It will help you to create a habit that lasts forever.

Other Types Of Motivation

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are the most common types of motivation. But, they are not the only methods of motivating yourself to take on something new and different.

Other types of motivation include:

    • Achievement Motivation

This is the desire to achieve a specific goal.

If this goal doesn’t have a reward attached you could describe it as intrinsic motivation.

However, this type of motivation usually contains elements of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.

    • Fear Motivation

If you’ve ever felt the need to do something because you’re afraid of what will happen if you don’t, then you’ve experienced fear motivation.

This is generally seen as bad motivation, although you can use your own fears to motivate yourself to improve.

    • Power motivation

If you hunger for power and control over your own life and other people’s lives then you’re experiencing power motivation.

This can be a positive motivation, although, if you take it too far you’re likely to forget moral obligations and conduct in favor of your goal.

    • Social motivation

When society or individuals indicate they will accept you if you conform to pre-conceived standards, you may want to conform.

You’ll then be motivated to change through social motivation.

You can simply call this peer pressure.

    • Expectancy motivation

This is similar to extrinsic motivation in that there is a reward involved.

The difference is that you simply believe the reward will happen if you achieve your goal.

This can be very motivating… unless the expected reward disappears, which could leave you feeling disappointed and lacking in motivation.

The Proof Is In the Results

The simple fact is that if you’re intrinsically motivated you’re more likely to do something repetitively for a long period of time and create a habit.

intrinsic motivationThis is because you get pleasure and satisfaction from simply doing the activity.

There have been numerous studies on the benefits of intrinsic motivation and it appears that this is the best way to motivate yourself and others, as well as increasing your ability to achieve your goals.

There are several reasons why intrinsic motivation is the most powerful type of motivation:

    • Desire

It’s much easier to keep doing something when you actually enjoy doing it.

Intrinsic motivation ensures you can stick to any project because you want to keep doing it and you enjoy it!

    • Improved Learning

When you want to learn something, you are more interested in the subject, you are likely to apply yourself harder, and you will learn more.

This is because you’re doing it for yourself and not for anyone else.

    • Habit Building

Because you enjoy an activity you’ll find it much easier to keep doing the same thing. This will create a habit, which will stay with you long into the future.

Once you’ve developed a habit you’ll simply do something because you always have, without questioning it.

At this stage, motivation is no longer necessary, although the pleasure of intrinsic motivation will always remain.

Discovering Your Intrinsic Motivation

join the gym workout plans for men over 40So, we know that intrinsic motivation is important to help you achieve your goals, whether that’s improved fitness, weight loss, or simply visiting the gym every week.

What you now need to do is discover and build on your intrinsic motivation, giving yourself the opportunity to be everything you can be and achieve any goal you set yourself.

It sounds difficult but it doesn’t have to be!
Here are some great ways to discover intrinsic motivation:

    • Create Your Own Rewards

Research shows us that people tend to perform poorly when offered reward-based performance incentives.

That’s why it’s so important that you gain satisfaction from completing the job properly.

However, if you’re new to intrinsic rewards or are faced with something that has to be done but is difficult to get excited about then you need to rethink your reward structure.

By creating short term rewards that are based around your own pleasure you’ll develop an enjoyment of the activity.

    • Be Smart To Improve Confidence

Being smart used to be considered particularly un-cool. Fortunately, attitudes are changing.

It’s now cool to be the smartest guy in the room and that doesn’t mean you need to be a theoretical physicist!

Simply getting a better understanding of any issue will help you to feel motivated.

Knowing that it’s cool to know exactly how something works can help you to feel confident motivating yourself.

    • Think About The Greater Good

If you need to achieve something and you’re not feeling motivated then it’s time to consider the greater good.

If you believe that your efforts will improve things for others it is much easy to be motivated and stay motivated.

For example, losing weight and improving your health will help you to be around when your kids are grown up and your grandkids need you.

That’s an example for the greater good which can help you to feel intrinsically motivated.

    • Use Visualization Techniques

Sometimes all it takes is picturing the results.

For example, Arnie always visualized how muscles working and the body he wanted, it helped him to keep going and achieve his goals.

If you’re struggling with a task then picture yourself having completed it and imagine the feeling that you’ll have.

You’ll be surprised at how much difference this can make to your motivation!

    • Improve Your Self-Belief

Alongside visualizing the goal, you also need to believe in yourself.

Knowing that you are capable of doing something, and that’s anything, means that you can apply yourself to it and commit to the necessary practice.

Believing you can achieve something makes it much easier to get off the couch and do what you need to do.

Of course, you may wonder how you’re going to believe in yourself, it’s much easier to say “I can’t do something” than it is to say “I can do it!”

The trick is to set small goals, every goal you achieve reinforces the idea that you can do something.

Very quickly you’ll have intrinsic motivation and have built a habit. There really is nothing that can stop that!

    • Change The Color Of your Environment

Did you know color can influence your mindset?

color - intrinsic motivationIt’s not so much a specific color as changing the color of your surroundings.

This naturally stimulates curiosity and helps you want to achieve more.

They say a change is as good as a rest, try changing the color of the room you workout in, or are creative in, you’ll be surprised at how much difference it makes to your intrinsic motivation.

    • Look At Examples Of Others Achievements

Another great way to develop the intrinsic motivation you need is to look at examples of others who have worked towards and achieved a similar goal to yours.

It doesn’t matter what field you are in or what your goal is.

There will be others that have gone before, you can use their example to inspire yourself.

Seeing that they have achieved something and knowing that you can do the same, or better, will inspire and motivate you to do what you need to do every day.

Using Intrinsic Motivation To Reach Your Goals

Understanding intrinsic motivation is great, as well as developing recognition of how you can use it in your daily life.

However, one area where intrinsic motivation can really excel is when you want to lose weight, and, or, build muscle.

Here are some methods that will help you to achieve these goals with intrinsic motivation:

    • Consider The Future

Lose weight, build muscle, and improve your overall health. Maintaining a healthy body weight has been shown to help reduce the risk of age-related disease.

It will also help keep you more mobile and flexible, and less likely to lose your balance. This can help you avoid injuries.

If you want to be around for your children and grandchildren, simply think about the future every morning and then workout. The reward is for you and your family.

    • Check Out Testimonials

Join the Fit Father Project and connect with other men that are working hard to lose weight and build muscle.

You can check out the testimonials on this site, speak to other men, and get the diet and exercise tips you need to achieve your goal.

Most importantly, the knowledge that these men have already lost weight and gained muscle should be enough to allow you to believe that it is possible.

Self-belief and these examples will power up your own intrinsic motivation, it won’t be long before you’re the one inspiring others!

    • Make Yourself a Promise

Promising yourself a reward for achieving a goal is an extrinsic motivator.

But, promising yourself that you’ll feel great and be more able to do the things you love is an intrinsic motivator.

The great thing about this is it doesn’t cost anything and it’s easy to check.

For example, start a journal and record your favorite active pastime, such as walking your dog with the family.

Note next to it how far you can walk without getting worn out.

Keep your journal and look at the difference in 2 weeks. This will motivate you to keep going!

Extra Motivation

Even when you’re busy motivating yourself you can rely on others to give you the extra push and the ideas you need to achieve your goals.

Check outthese guys and feel inspired by what others have achieved.

It will make you want to be the best man that you can be, this is perhaps the greatest intrinsic motivation that you can get.

After all, what better reason is there to do anything other than to be the very best version of yourself.

This is the attitude all successful people have and one that you should emulate.

Your new friend & coach,

Stuart Carter Dip. PT, Precision Nutrition 1

C.O.O., The Fit Father Project

Stuart gained his Diploma in Personal Training & Sports Medicine through Premier Global, back in 2001. In 2018, he completed his Level 1 Precision Nutrition qualification.

Throughout his career in Fitness, Stuart has trained hundreds of clients, worked in almost every position in the industry, and ran his own successful training studio.

After a hiatus away from the Fitness industry, working in Corporate Management and Finance, Stuart returned to what he loves… Fitness! This return led to a chance meeting with Dr. Balduzzi, and a place in the Fit Father Project team.

Brotherhood Nickname: The Fit Brit
Bragging Rights: 18 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide', Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on intrinsic motivation.


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