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Motivation – How Does It Work?

Written by: Jenna Free, Guest Writer


A therapist explains the difference between intrinsic motivation and external motivation and why the things you think will motivate you (money, success, recognition) won't in the long run.

Motivation is a crucial component in the success of entrepreneurs and business owners. It drives you to strive towards achieving your goals and aspirations. Running your own business is hard and without motivation it can be easy to give up. But what type of motivation should we be focusing on in order to have a lasting and enjoyable experience as an entrepreneur?

Motivation can be classified into two main categories: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and the difference between the two is vast.

Both types of motivation play a significant role in shaping behavior and achieving goals, but they differ in the results you’ll get from each.

In this article, we will explore the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, their benefits, and how they can impact your success as an entrepreneur.

Intrinsic motivation is doing something for the pure pleasure of it, rather than for some external reward, such as money. Intrinsic motivation is often linked to personal growth, self-determination, and a sense of accomplishment. It is not influenced by external factors, such as rewards or punishments, and is often self-sustaining. You do not need to rely on others or factors out of your control to stay motivated.

On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is driven by external factors such as rewards, recognition, and punishment. Extrinsic motivation is often used in work environments to incentivize individuals to achieve specific goals or objectives. Rewards and recognition can take various forms, including promotions, bonuses, and public recognition.

There are a number of studies that show that intrinsic motivators work much better than extrinsic ones. A perfect example of this is a study done by psychologists Mark R. Lepper and David Greene, which looked at the effects of rewards on children (since parents so often look to external rewards with their kids).

They selected 51 children who were interested in drawing and split them into three groups with an expected reward, a surprise reward and no reward.

Each child was given 6 minutes to draw a picture and were either given a reward or not depending on the group they were in.

They then watched the children through a 2 way mirror for the next few days to see who continued to draw on their own accord.

The group who received the expected reward spent half of the amount of time drawing than the other two groups.

Why is this relevant? Well, so many entrepreneurs focus on the money, the number of followers they have on social media or the amount of clients they have and this WILL decrease their motivation to continue the work they are doing.

If you want to maintain the love for your work that you had when you started your business, focus on the process of being an entrepreneur. The satisfaction you get from helping a client, the daily lifestyle of being your own boss, the problem-solving that you get to dive into each day – these things will keep you going.

Yes, of course we also want the money and success to follow but if your day-to-day motivator to run your business is the external stuff, it isn’t going to last.

For more info follow me on Instagram and visit my website!


Jenna Free, Brainz Magazine Guest Writer

Hi, I'm Jenna Free, MACP is a therapist in Alberta, Canada and I work with entrepreneurs that want to be happy, not just rich. Using evidence-based approaches including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, I help entrepreneurs to enjoy the process of building their businesses while also enjoying their personal lives (it's possible, I swear!).



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