Tuesday, October 17, 2017



Motivation can be defined as ”A reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.” Youcan also talk about getting a prize or having an incentive for doing something. Motivation can also be defined as ”being positively engaged to complete a task. Motivation can have two directions. Away from something and towards something. To be more exact, motivation is a combinations of a choice to achieve something, desire to have an effort towards it and drive to persist with that effort.

Examples of sources

The adrenalin burst after having a run, the need for compliments after doing something, bonuses after reaching a predetermined goal at work, the joy of doing something we like etc. Motivation to move away from bad outcomes like spending too much money.

Three primary sources of motivation, intrinsic, extrinsic and altruistic

Intrinsic motivation comes from loving the things you do. You do something because you really want to do something. Extrinsic motivation is a need for doing something, because you get something else, because of that. Altruistic or relational motivation comes from your social needs like connecting with others. People are not equal in responding sources of motivation. Some people are more driven towards intrinsic sources, and some people are more driven towards extrinsic sources of motivation. These sources of motivation may vary. When you are performing an action, you are enjoying more intrinsic motivators. When you are planning for performing the action, you are incluenced more by the extrinsic factors. In the long run, you may think more about common good. Rewards from doing a particular task should always be personalized depending on the primary sources of motivation people have.

Intrinsic motivations come from your egocentric biases, especially if you are an adult. The more effort you have, the more you feel motivated about achieving something. The more effort you put, the more likely you will love the end product. Deep engagement in the action itself can be a source of putting maximum effort with no other rewards. This can be satisfying and most people do something that is enjoyable, satisfying, or personally challenging without getting any rewards. Why does this happen? Because people´s bodies and brains have biochemical reactions like adrenalin or dopamine or some other feel-good hormones bursting in our bodies. They are the sources in this case.

Extrinsic motivations are a double-edged sword. You have an inner need to get some kind of recognition from others. Wrong kinds of extrinsic rewards decrease your motivation to do something. Getting compliments from doing your work is a good way to motivate you, but you need to feel they are genuine. You are willing to work for a smaller salary, if we feel you get some genuine acknowledgement from your work. You may become less driven when you get monetary rewards. Verbal ”well done” is more effective for some people. It will probably lose its effect if it is used too much.

The most powerful source of motivation may be your connectedness to others which can be called altruistic motivation. By getting a higher meaning for your actions, you feel even more motivated than any intrinsic rewards can give you. Favorable perceptions of colleagues are important for all the workers. Doing things for others can make your life meaningful. Altruistic sources of motivation like meaning and connection are harder to understand, because they can influence the world in a longer timescale. For example, motivation to create a better world is not for just you, but for the future generations.

Motivation is a complex matter and not very well researched or understood

People do not understand motivation well. It is a complicated thing with different reactions from combinations of sources. Same action can have many sources of motivation. Different people have different motivations of doing the same things. Some people respond more to extrinsic sources and others more to intrinsic and altruistic sources. Sources may also have a different long-term and short-term effects. Money bonuses may work well as short-term motivators, but in the long run they may cause problems. You cannot get single answer for motivation and how different sources have different effects on different people. Most people and most companies should use a method of trial and error to maximize motivation.  


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