Reflect on this for a moment: “Are you lacking motivation in some area of your life?” My guess is the answer is, “Yes”. It could be in your physical fitness, it could be in your marriage, it could be in friendships, it could be in your work. Most of us on Monday mornings are thinking about our work. So are you motivated in your current work situation?
Motivation plays a huge role in our success as an employee or a business owner or entrepreneur. It also affects our ability to have healthy ongoing relationships with our spouse, family, and friends. Today, I want to draw to your attention to something that you have probably not thought about in quite a while: the difference between external and internal motivation. We are motivated by both. It’s not one or the other. Although they stand in contrast, one is not right and the other is wrong, but there are differences that make one better for a person depending on where they are in life. So let’s take a look at the three most common external motivations:
1. The Boss
Your boss is a huge external motivation. Meaning that this is a motivation that comes from outside of your body and outside of your mind and heart to motivate you. If my boss is not satisfied, if my boss is not happy, if my boss is not excited about whatever it is that I’m doing, there could be ramifications. I could get written up, not get that pay raise later on, or even get fired, right? So I want my boss to be happy. So that’s an external motivation. If my boss isn’t happy, then I’m not happy. Now, maybe you work for yourself. That would make your customer, the person you are trying to satisfy, your boss.
Money is a major motivation for everyone, so you don’t have to be afraid to admit it! We need money in order to pay the bills for the roof, for the electricity, for the Internet. Our world, our lives are driven in large part by money for better or worse. But that is an external motivation, something outside of us that we need. I need money in order to live, so I’m motivated by that.
3. Peer Pressure
The pressure that we get from the people in our lives, whether it be our parents or our partners, is a huge factor in what motivates us. As you are growing up, parents are trying to motivate you to conform to either a behavioral issue, a morality issue or just trying to get you to do stuff around the house. All of those things that are outside of us are an external force that is seeking to motivate us. If you don’t do this, you will have this taken away. Or if you don’t do this, you will not be able to go to the movies with your friends. It’s a kind of, “If this, then that”. It’s a punishment or reward often times with parents as an external motivation. Another aspect of that is pressure from our peers. If you don’t conform either to think the way we think, to dress the way we dress, act the way we act, there will be a punishment. And oftentimes with peers, the punishment is a lack of attention and then the reward is more attention. So if you do the right things to fit in with us, we’ll give you less or more attention. Another source of pressure is our partners. So if my spouse is trying to get me to take the trash out or do the dishes or clean up clothes or whatever it might be, that other individual, my partner is seeking to motivate me. Which is a good thing, but that’s external motivation. I’m wanting to please him or her. I’m wanting to get praise from him or her. I’m wanting them to even give me physical affection because of somehow that I acted.
Okay, so these are all motivations from outside of ourselves. We are motivated externally by our boss, by money and by pressure from peers. Now, I’m wondering, have you thought about the difference between external motivation, motivation that is outside of ourselves, and an internal motivation, something that is flowing from our mind and our hearts that may be even more powerful, maybe even more satisfying. I believe that if you change your motivation from external to internal, it could positively change your productivity.
The benefits of switching your source of motivation include:
1. Increased Confidence
For many external motivations, the reason why they are motivating us is out of fear. We fear something. We fear our boss’s words of correction or criticism, so we are nervous. We fear getting written up, not getting the promotion, not getting the raise, and what happens when we don’t have enough money to pay the bills. That’s an external motivation that often causes fear. We are fearful of what is going to happen if we don’t conform to the pressure of our parents, our peers and our partners. What if you weren’t motivated by that fear from that external motivation? What if there was something internal that motivated you? I believe that the result is that you would have an increased level of confidence. It would not be out of fear, but out of confidence.
2. Stabilized Motivation: no more ups and downs!
I have found when I’m motivated by my boss, money or peers, parents, partners, that my motivation can go up and down based on that individual or that situations praise. If my boss is praising me, all of a sudden my motivation level goes up. If my boss is withholding praise or I’ve done something that hasn’t satisfied him or her, all of a sudden my motivation goes down. When I have more money in my bank account, my motivation goes up or it might be opposite for you. Maybe when there is less money in the bank account, your motivation goes way up. For me, for some reason, I feel better when I have more money in my bank account and I’m motivated to do even better. Same thing with peers, if they are praising you, if they are doing something to give you feedback that’s positive, you might have an increased level of motivation. If we switched the majority of our motivation to not just be externally, from outside of us, but internally from inside, I’m wondering if not only you’ll have a higher level of confidence, but you’ll have less ups and downs, a more even keel of motivation.
3. You’ll Be More Focused
If you shift your motivation from being outside of you, boss, money, pressure from peers, and shifted to internal motivations, you will be more focused! You’ll be more centered. You won’t be as scattered in terms of your thoughts and your mind and your motivations. You’ll be more centered and more focused because you are coming from something that is centered and inside of you, as opposed to motivations that are outside of you.
4. Increased Satisfaction
If I’m just motivated because somebody is putting pressure on me to do something, then when I cross the finish line or when I finish whatever it is that they are wanting me to finish, whether it’s a project, a work goal, maybe it’s my spouse that’s wanting me to do something around the house, once I finish that my level of satisfaction is kind of more like a, “Whew, I’m glad I got that done. I’m glad I got them off my back. I’m glad that I don’t have to deal with that anymore.” If my motivation is more internal, then I have a higher degree of satisfaction, that, “Wow, I did that. I did it. I did it not just for whoever I’m satisfying, but I did it for myself. I did it because it aligned with who I am and what I believe to be important.”
This brings me to several new ideas I have regarding internal motivation itself. Here are several internal motivations that are rooted in my identity, coming from inside myself, not the world around me:
“I am valuable to the world.”
I am valuable. If you have that as a part of your identity, then that’s going to motivate you when you come into any situation in life. You are not going to think that everybody else is more valuable, or I’m less valuable. No, I am a valuable human being. So when I’m coming into this workplace, relationship, community, I am coming from a place of identity that says, “I am a valuable human being.” Because of that, I’m going to be motivated in a different way than if I’m trying to get my value based on what you believe about me. If I believe I have to perform in a certain way in order to feel valuable or find my value, I’m going to be nervous, I’m going to be full of fear and anxiety or even feel depressed when you are not giving me the praise or admiration that I had hoped for. But if I’m internally motivated by the fact that I am valuable to the world, there is a different type of motivation. Do you feel that? Do you feel the difference there?
“I am a responsible person.”
I think about responsibility kind of like this: I go to Planet Fitness. I really enjoy it because there is always places to workout in there. I will oftentimes walk in and I will see paper on the ground right at the entrance. Somebody will drop a receipt or maybe a paper to wipe off the stuff, and you know what? I just pick it up. Some people might think that it’s nasty or dirty, but that doesn’t bother me. What does bother me, is walking by that paper. If somebody else walks by it, I’m like, “Eh?”, maybe it kind of bothers me. But when I walk by it, it really bothers me. Why? Because I’m a responsible person. So if I’m walking by the piece of paper, you know what it says? I’m not living up to my internal identity. I’m not living up to that internal motivation that I have cultivated in my life. And so when I’m not living up to that, I then feel like, “Oh, there is a disconnect here.” Sometimes I have to walk by a piece of paper because I can’t pick up every piece of paper in the world. Let’s be obvious here, that would be impossible, although I wish I could.
Just this morning I picked up a couple pieces of paper, why? Because I am a valuable human being in this world. I am a responsible human being. I’m making a difference in the world. That’s part of my identity and its part of then, my internal motivation. You see how this is different than, “Is someone watching me? Is my boss watching me? That he or she asked me to pick up the piece of paper?” Because if they asked me to pick up the piece of paper, but instead I just walk by it, I might get written up, I might get a little reprimand, I’m not going to be seen as positive in the eyes of my boss. What I’m saying is, what would it look like not to be just motivated by those things. What would it look like to develop some of those motivations internally based on your identity of who you are as a human being?
Other internal motivations:
“I am a hard worker.”
“I reach my goals.”
“I am a loving parent and/or spouse.”
Okay, so you feel the difference? Just to recap: external motivations come from outside of you. The three most common that I see are your boss, money and pressure from peers. Then we could increase our confidence, we’ll decrease our motivational ups and downs, we will be more focused and we will increase our satisfaction if we start to cultivate more of an internal motivation, not just an external motivation. Got that?
What are some internal motivators that you would be excited to cultivate? Some things that are not coming from outside of you, but they are coming from within you? They are rooted in your identity. Make a list of what internal motivations currently encourage you and separate list of ones you want to incorporate in your life. Seeing that you are already able to internally motivate yourself will give you reassurance that integrating those new ones is possible! Alright?
Hey, until next time, go launch yourself!