Intrinsic motivation! Defined as ‘performing an action or behaviour because you enjoy the activity itself’. In other words, you do something because you want to, not for gain or because of some external influence.
The following are 6 great examples of intrinsic motivation:
1. Going for a run because of the feeling you get post-exercise
Now, many people exercise because they want the results it brings – such as weight loss. However, running for such a reason is NOT an example of intrinsic motivation. But going for a run because you love the ‘feel good’ sensation you get post-exercise is! And perhaps you enjoy running because you’re out in the fresh air (perhaps as a respite from boring or stressful desk work), and because you feel at one with nature.
All of these are examples of intrinsic motivation for carrying out the activity. In other words, there’s no external reward, you’re simply going for a run because you enjoy doing it.
2. Baking a cake with your mom because you get to spend time with her, and you enjoy the activity of baking
Who doesn’t love spending time with mom? And if you combine this with the act of baking a cake – perhaps something you do because you simply enjoy it – then this is a great example of intrinsic motivation. Once again, you’re carrying out the activity not for any kind of gain, but simply because of the feel-good factor it provides you with. In other words, you enjoy the activity itself, not because of any type of external outcome.
The cake could be a complete disaster… But it’s the fact that you and mom spent quality time together and that you enjoyed reading the recipe and the act of putting the ingredients together for the cake that are key.
3. Collecting stamps because you find the journey through history fascinating
A hobby such as stamp collecting is a great example. Such an activity is carried out because it interests the individual, and not for any other reason. Not only discovering the various stamps from different countries, but the artwork that’s gone into them, the reason each was produced… You get the picture.
And of course, there’s the thrill that’s felt when discovering a rare or much sort after stamp.
4. Dancing – just for the hell of it
Because you love the feeling of the beat pulsing through your body, moving to the music like no-one’s watching – simply because you can and it feels fantastic! No-one’s told you to dance… No-one’s offered you any reward to dance… It’s simple something that you love doing and it makes you feel amazing.
5. A feeling of accomplishment for a job well done
Here’s an example that’s workplace specific. You help your customers find the right product for their needs, simply because it gives you a feeling of satisfaction. There’s no reward for doing so, but it gives you that warm fuzzy feeling in the pit of your belly – in other words, satisfaction for a job well done.
Similar examples would be a care home worker who spends time chatting to the people in their care – because you want to and it feels good! Or a real-estate agent who helps that newly married couple discover their perfect first house.
6. Studying something because you find it interesting
OK, so most of us study to pass exams. But if you actively seek out information on a subject simply because it interests you, then you’re driven by intrinsic motivation.
The interesting thing about motivation is that in many cases, we’re driven by a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In this example, you might well have enrolled on a course of study because the subject is something that you’re truly interested in – and you gain satisfaction from carrying out the work. This is your intrinsic motivation. However, you’re also going to gain a qualification at the end, so the push to work towards this goal is extrinsic motivation.
In all reality, we get motivated to do ‘stuff’ in our lives though a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. And that’s fine. But understanding the difference between the two is important, and can help us in all areas of our lives.