Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
intrinsic motivation
June 28, 2021

Intrinsic Motivation vs. Extrinsic Motivation

What motivates you to tackle life’s challenges and move forward with confidence? Is it money, praise or the natural satisfaction of a job well done? People have biological and psychological needs we must fulfill to be happy and healthy, but most of us also find intense personal satisfaction through engaging in interesting, enjoyable activities without the promise of any external reward.

Psychologists have identified two kinds of motivation – intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within yourself, while extrinsic motivation involves some form of compensation, such as a paycheck or a prize. When overused, extrinsic rewards can undermine intrinsic motivation. If you’re looking to improve your performance in any aspect of your life, try applying intrinsic motivation. By shifting the focus to a task’s inherently satisfying elements, you can better motivate yourself and others.

3 Healthy Techniques to Spur Your Intrinsic Motivation

Goal-setting is an essential life skill, especially in addiction recovery, but many people unknowingly set themselves up for failure by taking on too much at once or creating unrealistic objectives. Instead of shooting for the moon every time and getting discouraged when you miss, break larger goals into small, manageable chunks. Give yourself an attainable deadline, and be specific about what you hope to achieve. As you move forward, remember to celebrate each success. Here are three tips you can use to stay intrinsically motivated toward your practical objectives.

1. Make a To-Do List

Juggling multiple objectives can be daunting, so you might want to write down each step you will take to accomplish them. Keeping a digital or hard-copy to-do list where you can frequently revisit it will help you if you tend to procrastinate or need visual reminders of your next steps. It can also be useful to organize all your tasks in one central location. There are several to-do list formats to choose from, and it might take some trial and error to find the one that keeps you motivated to stay on top of your goals. Still, the sense of personal satisfaction you’ll feel when you cross an item off your list can be extremely rewarding. And, if you ever get stuck in a rut, you can review and reflect on everything you’ve accomplished for renewed enthusiasm.

2. Build in Breaks

Even the most driven and successful people know about the value of taking occasional pauses to stop and smell the roses. Having something to look forward to when you complete each recovery milestone will help you stay refreshed and keep your mind sharp. After solving a difficult problem, treat yourself to your favorite healthy snack, a relaxing yoga sequence or a stroll through a nearby park. Build a 15- to 20-minute break into every hour you work. Use that time to meditate, get up and stretch or do a no-equipment workout circuit. Relaxing and recharging will clear your mind.

3. Look on the Bright Side

If you’re having trouble staying engaged in your recovery journey, get inspired by coming up with a list of positive things you’ve experienced since getting clean and sober. Think about your loved ones and how your sobriety will benefit their lives. Instead of expecting accolades or awards, focus on each activity’s internal benefits, such as what you will learn along the way. Consider how your sobriety contributes to the “big picture” of everyone around you by making you a healthier, happier person. Building an emotional connection with your recovery is an excellent form of intrinsic motivation.

Finding the Motivation to Change Your Life

There’s a strong correlation between your intrinsic motivation and your success in working toward life-changing achievements such as lasting sobriety. Once you’ve seen firsthand how rewarding it can be to break the cycle of substance abuse by addressing the root cause of your harmful behavior, you will want to share your joy with others and pay it forward.

At Beach House, we provide clients with the love and support they need to heal their minds and bodies as they recover from substance misuse and co-occurring disorders. To start the conversation and learn more about what we offer, contact us today.