increase intrinsic motivation

7 Great Ways How to Increase Your Intrinsic Motivation

Do you know why successful people are able to maintain and keep their motivation high each day?

They seem to have all the energy in the world to conquer all the odds and go through the sometimes mundane and boring process of taking action until they achieve extraordinary results.

Well, it has a lot to do with their intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is the internal motivation that drives you to do something.

As human beings, we all share the same driving forces that motivate us to do something.

For example, when you are hungry, you are motivated to eat and keep your stomach full. As what Wikipedia puts it, “An individual’s motivation may be inspired by others or events (extrinsic motivation) or it may come from within the individual (intrinsic motivation).”

Wikipedia also states, “Mastering motivation to allow sustained and deliberate practice is central to high levels of achievement e.g. in the worlds of elite sport, medicine or music.”

Meaning to say, if you want to achieve extraordinary success in life, you must learn to master your motivation.

And intrinsic motivation is where you should start.

So how do you learn to master your intrinsic motivation? Here are 7 great ways you should consider:

1. Challenge and competition

One of the most obvious and powerful driving forces comes from challenges and competition.

When you are challenged or when you are in a competition, you will want to perform better.

This is because you want to win. Nobody wants to play to lose. Everybody wants to win.

And this is why we have extraordinary athletes who set goals to break the records.

However, one thing to remember is that when you create a challenge or be in a competition, make sure the level of the competition follows the Goldilocks’ Rule.

You don’t want to make the competition overly difficult that you lose the competitive spirit.

At the same time, you don’t want to make the competition too easy that you don’t feel like it is a challenge at all.

Thus, stick to the Goldilocks’ Rule and create challenges that motivate you to achieve more.

What to do:

Create a challenge for yourself. Make it a competition so that you will have a higher motivation to achieve your target.

2. Be curious to learn

There is one part of us that we are always curious and we want to learn more about the subject.

Like what Albert Einstein said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

Curiosity is the compass that leads us to finding our passions and purpose in life.

In fact, if you look at all the extraordinary people in the world, they are successful because they are always curious to discover, to learn, and to perform better.

There is a saying:

[ctt template=”9″ link=”cQEez” via=”no” ]“The future belongs to the curious. The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it, and turn it inside out.”[/ctt]

This article from FastCompany shares 8 habits of curious people and you can take the hint to develop your curiosity:

  1. Listen without judgment
  2. Ask lots of questions
  3. Seek surprise
  4. Be fully present
  5. Willing to be wrong
  6. Make time for curiosity
  7. Do not be afraid to say, “I don’t know”
  8. Never allow the past to affect the future

What to do:

Always be curious. Go and explore. Don’t worry about being rejected or failed. The more you question and the more you seek, the more you will receive.

And the more you understand yourself, the more you are able to master your intrinsic motivation because you know what you want out of your life.

3. Personal accomplishment

Everyone wants to be successful in life, nobody wants to live in mediocrity.

This is why personal accomplishment is a great way that can help boost your intrinsic motivation.

The problem is that most people are affected by the people around them. They are chasing something that they don’t really want.

They thought that they want to have a lot of money because that’s what everyone is chasing. But in the end, only they discover that chasing money is not what they truly want. All they want is to be acknowledged by the people they care.

So when it comes to personal accomplishment, go for the things that you truly want, not what others want for you.

The key is to live a purposeful life.

Going through life without a purpose is like trying to fire an arrow at nowhere.

When you don’t have a clear purpose, you don’t know where to go, what to do, and how to get there.

This is why most people don’t have the motivation because they are unclear about what they want to achieve in their lives.

What to do:

Find out your purpose in life. Identify the personal accomplishments you want to achieve.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to find out what you want out of life, but no worries, this article from Lifehacker can help:

4 Ways to Figure Out What You Really Want to Do with Your Life

4. Express significance and recognition

There are 4 stages of success:

Survival – this is where you are still struggling to make a living.
Stability – you are stable and you are making enough money to cover your living cost.
Success – you earned more than you spend. You can be financially free at this stage.
Significance – this is where you set out to help others and give back to the world.

Every one of us is motivated to help others. We want to make the world a better place and we want to be able to help when others request from us.

The problem is that we may not be able to give out help if we ourselves are in need of help.

What if your friends and family members need your help and you can’t help them because you don’t have what it takes?

Most people are motivated to help others. Look at extraordinary people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. They choose to work not because they need to, but because they want to and they want to serve others and help others.

These people are working for a different reason. They don’t choose to work because they want to make money.

Jeff Bezos is one of the richest men in the world, but he still goes to the office and works hard each day. He’s working for a different reason – significance.

He wanted to help others and to give back to the world. The same goes for Elon Musk. Musk does not need to start Tesla or SpaceX, but he went for it anyhow.

This article from John C. Maxwell’s blog says it perfectly:

“When people are self-centered, they can make external changes, and they won’t be any happier in their next career. No matter where they go, there they are.

Instead, they need to shift to significance by putting other people first. Their thinking needs to change from “What’s in it for me,” to “What can I do for others.” Until that change occurs, happiness, fulfillment, and significance will always be out of their reach.”

What to do:

Shift your focus to significance. Look at the bigger picture and don’t work for the money. Work for your passion, for the significance and you have on others’ lives, and work for the people you love.

5. Accountability and cooperation

Another great way to increase your intrinsic motivation is through accountability and cooperation.

Do you know why it is easy to give up on achieving your personal goal?

The answer is simple – because you are accountable to no one but yourself.

When you have no one to overlook at your performance and when you accountable to nobody, it is easy to slip back and procrastinate.

However, when you are in a team and everything you do directly affect your team’s performance, you will think twice before you act.

When it comes to team spirit, some people are able to go way beyond their ability just because they want to help their team members and they are willing to sacrifice to achieve their team’s targets.

This also explains why most successful businesses started by a group of people, not a one-man show.

It is extremely difficult to achieve success all on your own. You need people’s help. You need the support from your team.

Not only that you need the motivation from your team and partner, but you need the accountability to drive you to do better.

Dr. Gail Matthews, a professor in Dominican’s Department of Psychology once conducted a research on how goal achievement in the workplace, discovered something interesting.

Dr. Gail Matthews discovered that when you write down your goals, make action commitment, and then share your progress report with someone, you greatly increase your chances of achieving your goals.

What to do:

Get an accountability partner. Share your progress with someone else. When you are accountable, you will be driven to achieve the targets.

People who are on a team will be more motivated to achieve than people who are doing it alone.

6. Pursue your hobby and passion

When it comes to intrinsic motivation, there is no way we can go around hobby and passion.

Steve Jobs said it well:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

If you want to do great work, you must love what you do.

In other words, have a passion for what you do. This is why people are willing to do something that they love for free, but they are not willing to do something that they dislike even if they are paid to.

You can spark your intrinsic motivation when you are passionate about what you do.

Look at all the extraordinary people who have accomplished outstanding success in their lives. People like Richard Branson, Michael Jordan, Tony Robbins, Steve Jobs, etc., are successful because they love what they do.

When you are passionate about your work, you are intrinsically motivated to do it.

What to do:

Discover your passion and align your passion with what you do. If you have no idea how to find out what you love to do, read this article:

How To Live Life With Passion And Purpose

7. Express gratitude

One of the easiest ways to increase your intrinsic motivation is through gratitude.

Tony Robbins said it wisely, “Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” Your attitude of gratitude is vital to living a fulfilled life and hence, a successful life.

It is simple to understand. When you do something and you don’t think that your work is valued, how will you feel?

Not good, right?

But what if your work is valued and you feel extremely thankful for everything that you have done? The feeling will be totally different. And you will become more willing to do the work.

When you are grateful for what you do, you will be more driven to do it.

Oprah Winfrey says that when you are thankful for what you have in life, you will end up having more of it.

This article from the SalesForce blog nails it:

“Practicing gratitude each day helps quietly adjust your mindset, bit by bit. You become less inclined to sweat the small stuff which changes the way you approach working.

You also become content with knowing that you did the best you could where you’re at and with what you have. You begin looking forward to tomorrow, excited by everything you can learn and do and become, which is ultimately the biggest motivator of all.”

What to do:

Practice the attitude of gratitude. Be thankful for what you have and have the sense of gratefulness in you to live through each moment.

Additional reading: 8 Ways To Have More Gratitude Every Day


If you want to increase your intrinsic motivation, follow the 7 suggestions above and act on them.

Intrinsic motivation is important because it is the drive that keeps us going each day. It is the inner fire that motivates us to move forward and to achieve greater success in life.

When you are intrinsically motivated, nothing can stop you.

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2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Great article Shawn,

    I particularly relate to point 3 – personal accomplishment, as self-actualization is something that I feel like all humans should strive towards and experience in life.

    Thank you for writing up this article, god bless.

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