Why Extrinsic Motivators are Inhibiting Your Potential

By 1stFive Archives
Cover image for  article: Why Extrinsic Motivators are Inhibiting Your Potential

Human behavior fascinates me. Partially because it's the reason marketing exists, but mostly because I find it incredibly intriguing that the decisions people make do not support what we want most in life; a.k.a. what 80% of the population has not found. Happiness.

Happiness isn’t a destination. You can’t just take some alternate route and WAZE your way to happiness. According to Neil Parsicha, author of The Happiness Equation, the reason why happiness is still such an underlying mystery is because people are still searching for it. We're still creating this “If I get/do/have [fill in the blank] ... then I'll be happy" logic that we -- human society -- made up in the first place. So where is this hidden desire?

I highly recommend listening to Parsicha's interview on The Art of Charm; he does a fine job of rationalizing why we need to let ourselves off the hook for not being happy. For the majority of human history, our brains have evolved to do three things: 1) look for problems, 2) find problems and 3) solve problems -- which means problem scanning is much more difficult to diffuse than we think it should be. This concept made so much sense to me.

Whether we're living our lives to consciously or subconsciously seek out problems to then solve, how on earth will we ever have time to surface our happiness? The answer is we won't -- unless we reverse our logic to "If I'm happy ... then I'll get/do/have [fill in the blank]."

To reverse our logic and unlock our happiness, we must first understand that happiness is triggered by intrinsic motivators, not extrinsic ones.

Intrinsic motivators are driven by internal rewards; in other words, when we're motivated to do something because we enjoy doing it, it satisfies us and we feel rewarded. Extrinsic are just the opposite -- motivation fueled by money, fame, grades or praise. Extrinsic motivators are what we think will make us happy. I advise that you take a step back and remove yourself from the voices telling you that there is one right school, grade, career, salary or way of life that will guarantee happiness. Any person that paints you a black and white picture of life will only live a black and white kind of life. Mute the outside world for a second and begin to author your own life.

When was the last time you were so excited about something in your life that you couldn't sleep? Remember that feeling and embrace it. It's a close relative of happiness -- borderline bliss. It's never too early or too late to act on what truly motivates you.

How do you discover your true motivators, you ask? Read. Explore. Get uncomfortable. Ask questions.

And do yourself a favor …

Intern.

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