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The 3 Types of Motivation

Motivations are primarily separated into two categories: extrinsic and intrinsic. Good news if neither of these gets the job done. Researchers have identified a third type of motivation that's impressively effective.

1. Extrinsic
Doing an activity to attain or avoid a separate outcome
Chances are, many of the things you do each day are extrinsically motivated.

According to research published in Contemporary Educational Psychology, "Extrinsic motivation is a construct that pertains whenever an activity is done to attain some separable outcome."
In other words, it is similar to exercising to lose weight, learning to speak Italian to impress your friends, or getting to work on time to avoid being yelled at by your boss.
"Extrinsic motivation is doing something for the external rewards you get from it. In your career, this can include financial gain, benefits, perks and even avoiding getting fired," says Shawna Clark, owner of Clark Executive Coaching, a leadership development company.

2. Intrinsic
An internal drive for success or a sense of purpose
The journal of Contemporary Educational Psychology defines intrinsic motivation as doing "an activity for its inherent satisfaction rather than for some separable consequence. When intrinsically motivated, a person is moved to act for the fun or challenge entailed rather than because of external products, pressures, or rewards."

Hopefully, you have a handful of actions you perform each day that fall under this bucket. Your job may not provide apparent sources of intrinsic motivation. Still, perhaps you head out for a run because you enjoy the experience of unplugging and pounding the pavement or help your neighbor carry their groceries up the stairs. After all, you genuinely feel good doing it.
"Intrinsic motivation is doing something because it feels good to you. You feel internally rewarded for doing it,"" says Clark. ""In a job, this can be doing work that feels purposeful, enjoying time with your teammates, or achieving goals you've set for yourself."

3. Family
Motivated by the desire to provide for your loved ones
Finding intrinsic motivation isn't always easy, especially for those of us who aren't passionate about our work. Luckily, there is a way to compensate: Think about your family. This has emerged as a third source of motivation proven to be a vital source of inspiration — even for those who do not feel intrinsically or extrinsically motivated to do something.

"Family motivation can relate to both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. If the family is a top value of yours, then your family can serve as an intrinsic motivator. If you feel family pressure or obligations, then that's more of an extrinsic motivator," says Clark.
As organizational psychologist Nick Tasler says, "Every job — whether you're washing dishes or performing kidney surgery — provides us with the opportunity to affirm our identities as capable, respectable individuals, upon whom the most important people in our lives can rely."