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How to Increase Intrinsic Motivation

Your goals may be difficult to achieve, but they can be even more challenging if you’re not motivated. The factors influencing your drive come from various sources, such as those you can manage. These are known as intrinsic motivation. Once you understand them, you can build upon your core values and improve your life or career outlook.

This article will explain how to increase intrinsic motivation.

What Is Intrinsic Motivation?

Before advising you on increasing intrinsic motivation, we first need to explain what this type of motivation means.

Most people consider intrinsic motivation a feeling that originates from within, and internal desires manage your behavior. Unlike extrinsic motivation, it doesn’t center on external influences, such as increased compensation and praise.

Instead, intrinsic motivation typically involves finding and performing activities that are interesting or challenging in nature. In fact, combining internally rewarding tasks with external rewards can reduce intrinsic benefits.

For example, let’s analyze your motivation for reading this article. If you’re genuinely passionate about human psychology and want to understand this topic better, you’re doing so based on your intrinsic desire to obtain knowledge. You find the activity enjoyable, making you intrinsically motivated.

In contrast, you might be motivated to read the piece to receive workplace recognition or avoid getting marked down in school. In this case, your motivation is extrinsic.

Tips on How to Increase Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is powerful, but it doesn’t appear miraculously. You need to be proactive and take the following steps to find your intrinsic motivation:

Lift Your Spirits

Tapping into intrinsic motivation is nearly impossible if you’re despondent. Before finding a way to boost your motivation, practice some self-care to eliminate negative emotions. There are several ways to do so, such as eating a healthy meal, meditating, and having conversations with friends or family.

Pursue Meaningful Goals

Setting goals is imperative. However, you shouldn’t set just any goal. It should be meaningful, so you get a powerful sense of accomplishment and fulfillment when you achieve it. Completing your objectives can increase job satisfaction and enhance other key areas of life, motivating you intrinsically to dig deeper.

Furthermore, consider the complexity of your goals. You might be motivated to complete easy objectives, but you won’t make any progress if you limit yourself to such tasks.

Instead, choose challenging goals with delayed gratification that usually make you give up before you start. These are achievable, but they require much effort to keep you engaged. The uncertainty of whether or not you’ll accomplish your goals should keep you motivated.

Reminisce About Good Times

Like negative emotions, bad memories can suppress intrinsic motivation. Rather than dwelling on past hardship, reminisce about good times. Talk about the time you defeated your first karate opponent or had a perfect score on your math test.

Revisit those milestones and remind yourself how good it felt. Now imagine how fantastic it would feel if you accomplished a goal again.

This way, you can be more confident about your skills, allowing you to build intrinsic motivation more easily.

Don’t Think, Do

You may often believe some things are out of your control. For example, you can’t make yourself hit the gym or get up on time due to external factors. However, the reality might be the opposite. You may not be able to perform these because you simply don’t feel like it. Nothing prevents you physically from doing them apart from your laziness.

This brings us to our next tip – don’t wait to act until you feel like it.

You sometimes don’t want to do something initially, but as you continue, you hit your groove and unlock intrinsic motivation.

For instance, you may be reluctant to work out after a hard day at work. But instead of debating whether you should exercise or not in your head, tell yourself you’ll consider it later. Once you start lifting weights or doing cardio, chances are you’ll feel more inspired and energized.

Another great way to stop procrastinating is to develop and stick to your routines. Get into the habit of following your schedule. After a while, reading for two hours a day or getting up early will no longer be as daunting.

Look for Positions According to Core Values

Core values are the most important aspects, like respect, kindness, honesty, and creativity.

Find a job that aligns with these values by thoroughly researching the company and owner. This can increase your job satisfaction while allowing the company to grow and generate profits. Knowing you contribute to the development can also boost your intrinsic motivation.

If you find an organization with similar beliefs, explain your core values in your interview to maximize the chances of landing the desired job.

Make Your Job More Engaging

You spend about eight hours a day at work. And if you’re unmotivated by your environment, it’s nearly impossible to keep up intrinsic motivation. You can improve workplace engagement by asking your employer to tweak your routine by assigning tasks you’d find more fulfilling. Additionally, you can try personalizing your desk with pictures or plants.

Once you make your job more engaging, you’ll find that your motivation in other areas of your life will improve.

How to Increase Intrinsic Motivation


Giving back to the world is always meaningful and fulfilling. One of the best ways to do so is to volunteer. You can take your intrinsic motivation to the next level as you learn new skills and feel good about yourself while helping the less fortunate. Plus, you may discover a few more core values, including humanitarianism and kindness.

Besides, volunteering is in line with the principles of internal motivation since there are no external rewards. You do it because improving other people’s lives is fulfilling.

Acquire New Skills or Take on Extra Responsibilities

Learning new job skills can make your position more motivating. For example, suppose you’re a part of an SEO team that wants to increase the company’s search result rankings.

You can learn how to create amazing content to help your organization thrive and reach a wider audience. This makes your career more meaningful, while the newly acquired skills can give you the edge in future endeavors.

If picking up a new skill is too challenging, consider adding extra responsibilities to your routine. You’ll work harder to succeed and, in turn, get more satisfaction from your career, both of which can be a great source of internal motivation.

Seek Professional Development

Professional development activities can also raise intrinsic motivation. Whether they’re seminars, conferences, or training sessions, these activities can contribute to your sense of worth. You’ll feel your company values you, which can be the spark you need to keep going.

Help Your Colleagues and Take Breaks Whenever Possible

Some tasks and projects are too complex, even for the most capable individuals. If your colleagues struggle with challenging assignments, you can lend a helping hand. You may pick up new skills and elevate your intrinsic motivation.

Taking breaks is also essential.

Many people will tell you that you can only learn how to increase intrinsic motivation by working non-stop, but that’s not the case. Even if you have an excellent salary and your career is on the right trajectory, you need to take a break occasionally.

Benefits and your salary are extrinsic motivation sources, so consider performing outdoor activities with your friends and family to boost the internal ones. From picnics to hikes, life offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy your day outside your workplace.

Rephrase the Purpose of Your Actions

Finding the “why” in your life is key to fostering intrinsic motivation. In other words, you need to understand your drives and what makes your daily activities meaningful. To determine intrinsically rewarding tasks, consider reframing your narrative.

The most famous example is former President John F. Kennedy’s visit to NASA in the 1960s. He came across a janitor and asked him what he was doing at NASA. The janitor told him he was helping a man land on the Moon.

You can do the same to find inspiration in your work or other spheres of life. Rephrasing your actions can create meaning and make all the difference in finding the “why.”

Monitor Your Progress

You’ll never know how to increase intrinsic motivation if you don’t keep track of your progress. Most people monitor their progress by following their streaks using spreadsheets. Generating graphs is also great because it lets you visualize your goals.

Here are a few streaks you may want to measure:

  • Number of consecutive days you’ve gone to the gym
  • Number of consecutive days spent coding
  • Number of words written per day

In addition to spreadsheets and graphs, you can also use a journal. It’s a flexible solution because it lets you write about anything, from songs and poems to daily activities.

You can even write about your dreams and determine how they relate to your intrinsic motivations and innermost desires. Through your notes, you’ll be able to measure progress and monitor feelings, which can change your motivation over time.

Look Beyond Financial Gains

You can’t replace intrinsic motivation with monetary rewards. Even if your job is remunerative, you might only be doing it due to external motivators. You must look past financial benefits, not just at work but in all other aspects.

For example, if you’ve been postponing repainting your home or fixing your garage door, think about how rewarding it’ll be to finally complete the task. You’ll no longer worry about the project, giving you more time to enjoy your favorite activities.

Make Your Goals Public

One of the most effective ways to improve intrinsic motivation is to make your goals public. As previously discussed, external factors can diminish your internal drive, but they can be advantageous sometimes.

For instance, telling your friends or family about your plans adds a sense of commitment. Your activities might already be fulfilling, but now, you’re motivated to complete them because you don’t want to let other people down.

You’re more likely to achieve your goals, which is the most important reason for raising intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Take Care of Your Body

You can choose what meals you eat, where, when, and how frequently. Therefore, don’t take the easy way out and jeopardize your health at fast food joints.

Instead, eat healthier to feel better, look good, and boost productivity. After all, you’ll hardly feel motivated to do anything if your stomach is empty or you’re overweight due to poor eating habits.

Make a Difference in Your Life

Knowing how to increase intrinsic motivation is crucial if you wish to enhance your workplace performance and enjoy life to the fullest.

Hence, seek out activities that keep you excited because they’ll make you more confident and let you develop valuable skills. Also, zero in on what’s truly important and pursue goals with a personal meaning.


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