How to create intrinsic motivation in your life

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How often do you hear one of your friends or yourself saying I’m just not motivated enough to ____?

Well folks, it ain’t easy to stay motivated nowadays.

I mean, there’s so much Impractical Jokers to watch (am I the only one who loves this show?!),  loungin’ to do, online shopping to get done, Pokemon Go to play, and so on and so on.

Seriously though, I don’t know about you, but I go through periods where I am super AMPED and motivated to accomplish. Like crash through the wall Kool-Aid man style AMPED.

intrinsic motivation


Then there are the days when the very thought of working or accomplishing anything makes me want to run and hide.

So, how the heck do you create intrinsic motivation within yourself that you can tap into at a moment’s notice?

I can only speak from my perspective and the respective ways I have found to make myself more driven but when it comes down to it, I think it is quite simple.

You are not motivated because you’re setting the wrong kind of goals!

Let me ask you this. When you conjure up whatever motivation you can muster, what is the purpose of that motivation? What is the goal it is supporting?

Does it look something like this?: I want to be motivated so that I can.

… make six figures next year.

… get 100,000 followers on Instagram.

… win a gold medal at the Olympics.

… meet Elon Musk.

These are great goals and I can certainly relate to setting goals that are results-driven. However, I have found that these are not the immediate goals you should be setting. I have fallen into this line of thinking on countless occasions.

When I first launched PRSUIT and started building other online business I was very much focused on the finish line – I wanted a million monthly readers, I wanted to sell $50,000 worth of product a month, etc.

In my sales role, I wanted to close $1MM in my first month.

It was good to have these goals and metrics to achieve, but I was putting the cart before the horse and as a result, my motivation just wasn’t there. I struggled to find my drive day in and day out when it came to achieving these goals.

Why? Because I didn’t have intrinsic motivation tied to these goals.

intrinsic motivation

In my example above, I was pushing for longer-term, extrinsically driven goals that did not have intrinsic value and as a result my motivation was wavering.

If you can relate to wavering motivation, the problem is that you’re probably thinking too long term! You should be thinking short-term! – short term growth provides the intrinsic motivation you need to eventually push to your larger vision and goals.

What?! Short term?! That goes against most advice.

I would normally say that you should always be thinking long term. Long term success, goals, etc. I am not saying that you should be more realistic about your goals, but rather you should adjust your perspective. When it comes to motivation and finding the drive to achieve your long term visions, you need to think short term. You need to visualize short term growth.

The reason I say this is because there are generally two types of goals. Performance goals and mastery goals.

The above goals are performance goals. They are goals aimed at demonstrating that you have achieved a certain level of output, talent, etc. They are quantifiable, extrinsic and usually measurable by rewards, numbers or recognition. 1 million readers, gold medals, 100K followers.

Mastery goals, on the other hand, are intrinsic goals centered on learning or improvement around a certain skill set. They are growth goals.

Mastery goals would be along the lines of the following: I want to

… improve my last race time. (aka, run faster)

… become a better software developer. (aka, code better)

… get more followers this week than I did the last. (aka, grow faster)

Herein lies the difference.

While the actions and steps you take to accomplish both a mastery goal and a performance goal are closely mirrored, the mindset and motivation associated with each are different. When you’re focused on mastery goals, I have found that I am much less likely to get discouraged and that I find my motivation levels constant.

With mastery goals, you’re more focused on shorter term growth rather than finish-line accomplishments and this motivation mindset keeps you pushing forward.

Here’s what I mean.

Rather than focusing on how to make six figures next year, instead, focus on identifying and growing your skillset and experience in areas that will pay you that.

Rather than focusing on how to get 100,000 followers on Instagram, better develop your ability to produce value for your followers so that you can push your content to get shared, go viral and cause your followers to grow organically.

Rather than focus on winning a gold medal at the Olympics, focus on becoming a better athlete for your perspective sports (duh!). Focus on getting a new PR or setting a new milestone for yourself.

Rather than focusing on meeting Elon Musk, focus on developing your network so that you can leverage that to meet him. Also focus on the value you would have to offer when you did. Why would he want to meet you?

By positioning your goals on growth rather than events or recognition, I have found I am able to find more frequent accomplishments relative to my growth and as a result, I crave more – and my motivation levels are more constant.

What it boils down to, is this.

Let short term growth be your intrinsic motivation and the eventual rewards of that effort be your extrinsic motivation.

You need to have a vision of who you want to become (performance goal aka extrinsic motivation), but you should back up to understand what it will take to get there (mastery goal aka intrinsic motivation). Prioritize the development of the latter while continuing to work towards your larger goals.

By setting mastery goals, watching yourself grow relative to them and becoming more confident in the process, I think you will find your intrinsic motivation much more constant.

I’d love to hear how you keep yourself motivated. Let me know!

More on master vs. performance goals in this study and this article which inspired this piece.

Written by Case Kenny

Case is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of and the host of the New Mindset, Who Dis podcast. Reach him at or @case.kenny on Instagram.

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