How to Increase Intrinsic Motivation (Plus Why it's Important)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are many factors that affect your motivation and behaviour, from the smallest decisions to the life-changing ones. These factors come from several sources, some that you can control, including intrinsic motivation. When you understand your intrinsic motivations, you can better create a set of core values that can help you determine your career goals. In this article, we discuss what intrinsic motivation is and show you how to increase intrinsic motivation.

How to increase intrinsic motivation

Learning how to increase intrinsic motivation can help you succeed in your career. Intrinsic motivation refers to the act of doing an activity for its inherent satisfaction. When you have intrinsic motivation, you move to act for the challenge or fun entailed rather than because of external rewards, pressures or products. For instance, you can take an online programming course to learn how to code because it interests you. Intrinsic motivation is important in establishing a personal drive that can help you have a more focused career.

Here are some of the many ways that can help you raise your level of intrinsic motivation:

1. Look for ways to make your work more engaging

Making your duties and workspace interesting can help you stay motivated in your job. Consider personalising your workspace by adding plants or pictures. Find purpose in the tasks you do to make them more meaningful. Finding a purpose in your job can help you improve your intrinsic motivation.

Related: 15 Ways to Motivate Yourself at Work and Improve Productivity

2. Focus on gaining new skills from your job

Learning a new skill can help you improve your motivation in your work. For instance, if you're working with professionals to improve the company's SEO ranking, you can focus on learning new ways of ranking websites on the first page of the search engines. This can make your job more meaningful and the skill you develop can be helpful to you in your future endeavours.

3. Set meaningful goals

Consider setting goals that can help boost your job satisfaction. For instance, you can set a personal goal to exceed your expectations to have personal fulfilment. Setting your personal goals within your work can motivate you intrinsically to try harder.

Related: How to Write SMART Goals For Your Career (With Examples)

4. Look for a position that aligns with your core values

Core values refer to the aspects that are most important to you, such as creativity, honesty, kindness and respect. Before applying for a job, consider researching the core values of your employer and make sure they align with yours. This can help you feel satisfied with helping the company grow and generate more profits. If the company has similar beliefs, you can list your core values on your curriculum vitae or explain them in a job interview to increase your chances of getting hired for the job you're applying for.

5. Help your coworkers

Consider helping your colleagues with a project or task. Many people gain personal satisfaction from helping others who have a problem. During the process, you might learn or develop a new skill.

6. Take on additional responsibilities

Consider taking on more responsibilities at work. This can help you improve your satisfaction in your career. It can also help you stay interested to learn more and work hard to succeed.

7. Take a break

Even if you love your career or are happy with your salary, it's important to take a break. Your job may have great pay and unique benefits, but these are all extrinsic sources of motivation. Consider taking part in outdoor and family activities that can boost your intrinsic motivation, such as hikes and picnics. Enjoy everything life offers outside your eight to five work hours.

8. Participate in community events

Consider taking part in community events, such as signing up to teach children how to read or be the storyteller yourself at your community library. There are several ways to do what you're passionate about while partnering with your community. Seeing the people you helped grow can give you more than enough fulfilment.

9. Measure your progress

If you can measure your progress, you can improve your intrinsic motivation. Measuring your progress can be as simple as keeping a notebook or spreadsheet where you can count the number of times you went to the gym, the number of days you have coded or the number of words you have written. Creating a streak can be extremely motivating. Creating graphs can also make your progress easy to visualise.

10. Pursue professional development opportunities

Professional development opportunities can also increase your intrinsic motivation. Participating in training sessions and professional development seminars or conferences can help you increase your sense of worth. This internal motivator can make you feel like you're valued by the company.

Intrinsic motivation examples in the workplace

Here are several examples of intrinsic motivation at work:

  • Sense of accomplishment: The feeling of fulfilment and satisfaction you get after achieving success is intrinsic motivation. When you finally finish a task or project and reflect on your efforts, the sense of achievement it can bring can be a manifestation of intrinsic motivation.

  • Enjoyment: When you're enjoying your work instead of worrying about its end results, you're being motivated intrinsically. For instance, if you're working as an inbound sales representative and one of your duties is answering customer queries, you may enjoy meeting and talking to new people.

  • Passion: If you're passionate about what you do, you have intrinsic motivation. For instance, if you love to seek new challenges at work and learn as much as you can about your job, you're passionate about your career.

  • Sense of purpose: You may have the motivation to give your best as your work involves solving a larger issue, such as helping farmers cultivate more crops with less water, producing clean fuel or reducing plastic waste.

  • Pride in your job: If you have pride in your role, your work environment can become positive and you might not care about the external rewards or benefits that may come with your position. For instance, if you take pride in being an architect who helps families build their dream home, this can be a manifestation of intrinsic motivation.

  • Sense of freedom: Having the freedom to do something you want, such as taking your own decisions, can help you have a sense of freedom or a feeling that you're not working under the tight control of someone else. Likewise, when you're able to contribute your ideas to your employer and the people are interested in listening to your perspective, you can become motivated to think of new ideas.

Related: Interview Question: "What Motivates You?" (With Examples)

Why is intrinsic motivation important in the workplace?

Here are a few reasons why intrinsic motivation is important in the workplace:

It can make things feel easier

If you enjoy your job, you can make it less like work. Applying for the right position can improve your intrinsic motivation and encourage you to look forward to your time at work. Intrinsic motivation can make your work feel more like pursuing a hobby, which can make it easier for you to deliver your best performance.

Related: 11 Essential Business Skills to Help Grow Your Career

It can help you attain your long-term goals

Intrinsic motivation can help you align your long-term goals to your current job. Engaging in meaningful tasks or activities can help you develop the skills or abilities you need to meet your long-term goals. For instance, you may be more likely to get good grades in a college course if you're interested in it, rather than only seeking to get a higher salary.

It can increase your creativity

Intrinsic motivation can help you keep yourself focused on a topic. This allows you to find a creative solution to a problem in a short period. Also, intrinsic motivation can improve your innovation skills by making you more willing to spend more time and effort perfecting and implementing great ideas.

It can increase your independence and confidence

When you know why you're doing something, it can boost your self-confidence and make you self-reliant. Understanding that you're doing it for your own fulfilment can make you more responsible and capable of working without the assistance of others. Also, you understand the real purpose of your job and don't need to seek reassurance from a third party.

Difference between intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation

The primary difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is that the latter comes from within and the former comes from outside sources. These two types of motivation can differ in their level of effectiveness. Extrinsic motivation can be beneficial in some cases. For example, working towards getting a reward of some kind can be beneficial when you need to accomplish tasks you might find unpleasant.

Intrinsic motivation is usually a more effective long-term method for meeting goals and accomplishing tasks in a way that can make you feel satisfied. Although extrinsic motivation is beneficial in certain circumstances, it can eventually result in burnout or lose effectiveness over time. Sometimes extrinsic and intrinsic motivation can work together to help you accomplish a task. For instance, if you're working to complete a project, you might have the extrinsic motivation to complete it to earn a raise and you might have intrinsic motivation to complete it because you enjoy the project.

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