Your Reason Why (Three Types of Motivation)

22.09.2016 |

Episode #1 of the course The fundamentals of self-discipline by Martin Meadows.


Welcome to the course!

My name is Martin, and I’m a bestselling author of personal development books, including How to Build Self-Discipline and Daily Self-Discipline.

Over the next ten days, you’ll learn how to build the self-discipline needed to achieve your long-term goals.

Today, we’ll talk about three types of motivation to strengthen your resolve. It’s hard to stay persistent without a powerful reason “why,” so it’s key to discover it and understand which motivators are the most powerful for you.


Extrinsic Motivation

The first type of motivation is extrinsic motivation. You’re motivated extrinsically if you want to get a specific reward or avoid a punishment. If you’re working on your business because you want to buy an exotic car, looking for a new job because you want to enjoy better social status, or working hard on a project because you don’t want your boss to be mad at you, you’re motivated extrinsically.

This type of motivation is weak, because few people will sacrifice themselves for months or years simply so they can buy an expensive car or avoid being yelled at by their boss. It’s just not enough to support your resolve in the long term. Punishments can work better, but we’ll talk about how to use them in a later lesson.


Intrinsic Motivation

The second type of motivation is intrinsic motivation. Psychologists Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci define intrinsic motivation as “the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than for some separable consequence.”

You’re motivated intrinsically when you do things out of enjoyment, to challenge yourself, to improve yourself, or to fulfill your other higher needs, like the need for independence.

This type of motivation is stronger than extrinsic motivation because it comes from within you. It can be an endless source of inspiration, because while driving an expensive car gets old (as all new toys do), you’ll always draw pleasure out of bettering yourself, doing things you like, or controlling your life.


Prosocial Motivation

The last type of motivation is prosocial motivation, discussed by professor and bestselling author Adam Grant in his book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. In this type of motivation, you’re motivated by the need to help others.

A perfect, albeit somewhat graphic, example of prosocial motivation is a parent jumping into a dangerous river to save their child. Few, if any, people would risk their lives to save their possessions, while almost everybody would jump after their drowning baby. That’s why prosocial motivation is the strongest motivation you can have. It’s no longer about you but rather people or issues you care about.


Key Takeaway

Make a list of motivators that will help you keep going when you face obstacles. Start with prosocial and intrinsic motivators. Extrinsic motivators can help as well, but unlike the first two, external motivation alone isn’t sufficient to build powerful resolve.

If, for example, you want to lose weight, do it because you want to set a good example for your children (prosocial motivation), because you want to improve yourself and feel better (intrinsic motivation), and finally, to look good (extrinsic motivation).

If you want to build a business, do so because you want to have enough money to provide for your family (prosocial motivation), because you want to challenge yourself, take control over your life, and experience the satisfaction of building a company (intrinsic motivation), and finally because you want to afford an expensive car or enjoy the status of a wealthy entrepreneur.

Ensure you have strong prosocial and intrinsic motivators in your life. This way, you’ll find it easier to maintain self-discipline.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the “Three Cs” of self-discipline that can make or break your resolve. You definitely want to introduce them in your life!

Talk soon,


Recommended book

“How to Build Self-Discipline” by Martin Meadows


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