Intrinsic VS Extrinsic Motivation - Premier Counseling
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Intrinsic VS Extrinsic Motivation

Kristy Burton, LPC, ADDC, SAP, NCC, TA

Helping people achieve their goals is one important element of counseling sessions. Developing increased self-awareness and learning how to find the motivation to make change are two common reasons people decide to work with a counselor. In this blog, we take a closer look at motivation, specifically the intrinsic and extrinsic motivating factors that move us to achieve our goals, and how individual counseling sessions can help you get motivated.

What is Motivation?

Motivation is what drives our desires to do something. From getting a promotion at work to leading a healthier life, motivation is the answer to the question, “Why am I doing this?” Without motivation, setting and achieving goals for change would be impossible. So, what motivates us? Research shows that people can motivate themselves to complete goals, but that a combination of internal and external motivators can be more effective. What does that mean for you when it comes to achieving your goals? Let’s take a closer look at the two forms of motivation and how they work together.

Intrinsic Motivation – How Can I Self-Motivate?

Intrinsic motivation is our own desire to make a change or achieve a goal, and for many people, these forces are the most effective in helping them reach their desired end result. I often work with individuals who have substance use disorders, and while they may decide to get sober because of some external motivator (hitting rock bottom), they usually stay sober because they have the internal desire to change.

Extrinsic Motivation – How Can Outside Motivators Help?

Even though intrinsic motivation has a huge role in helping people achieve change, extrinsic motivation can still play an important part, especially in getting started. Extrinsic motivators can be either positive or negative. Positive extrinsic motivators are rewards we could receive for completing a task, and negative extrinsic motivators are the consequences of failure to change. When positive or negative extrinsic motivation outweighs our own internal desires, we may be motivated to begin making a change. However, without intrinsic motivation, most individuals are unable to sustain change in the long term.

How do Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation Work Together?

For many people, an extrinsic factor motivates them to start making a change. In the example of recovering addicts discussed above, individuals in recovery often share their stories of hitting rock bottom. These stories typically involve negative consequences that occurred due to their substance use (their marriage failed, they caused an accident, they went to jail, etc.). While these moments of extrinsic motivation might be the initial catalyst for change, intrinsic motivation is very important for continuing progress toward achieving goals. Simply put – if you don’t want to do something – you won’t do it. It’s important to develop the ability to self-motivate, and when necessary, you can also build in continued extrinsic motivation as part of your planned change. Addicts in recovery usually have an entire network of people encouraging their sobriety and a relapse prevention plan to keep them going. Whatever your goal, a combination of internal and external motivation is key.

What if I Need Help Getting Motivated?

If you’re trying to make a big life change or get motivated to become a better version of yourself, counseling may be a good option. One of the many roles I play as a counselor is motivating individuals to make change and helping people develop their will power and the ability to self-motivate. We can work together to understand motivation and how it impacts your ability to change, grow, and meet your goals, and I can partner with you to make plans and take steps toward your desired end result. If you’re ready to get started, please don’t hesitate to call Central Arkansas Group Counseling to schedule an appointment with us in Benton or North Little Rock.

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash