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Am I motivated by intrinsic or external factors?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Why do you do what you do? Is it because you love it? Or because you've been successful and make a good salary and, well, it would be a darn shame to give it all up to write Irish poetry for a living? That's essentially the difference between intrinsic motivators - doing something for love, genuine interest, and satisfaction - and external motivators - doing something because some outside influence like salary influences you. In general, intrinsic factors are more important and more stable - and they will help you not only in job situations, but also in things like quitting smoking (better to quit when you're ready, not because somebody nags you to do so).
Intrinsic motivations are also self-reinforcing because of our built-in desire to attribute causes to our actions. If we perform a task for an extrinsic reward, then we reason that we did this task because of the reward, and not because of something inherently interesting or important. But if we perform the task without an extrinsic reward, then we reason that the task itself must be inherently enjoyable or important in order for us to continue to engage in it. If you work hard on a project for a particular boss and the boss moves on (or if your feelings about that boss change), then you will not keep working hard. But if you work hard because you enjoy the job, then this motivation becomes self-reinforcing. You stay engaged in the work, because it's enjoyable, and that supports the belief that the work was enjoyable. So what I tell young people all the time is for them to find a career that they're passionate about. Do that and you'll naturally excel because you'll love what you're doing, and, in many cases, the money will follow.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.