Achieving What We Most Desire

Behavioral science distinguishes between two different kinds of motivation: intrinsic (internal) and (external) extrinsic motivation. In simple terms the fundamental difference between the two is whether you engage in an activity because you enjoy performing that task or whether you do it to achieve something else. The strength of motivation resulting from intrinsic motifs or extrinsic motifs can certainly be the same. Both are equally likely to actually make us do something. Quite different are however the satisfaction and self-fulfillment they generate.

Doing something intrinsically motivated will automatically make you happy, simply because you relish what you are doing. In turn, engaging in something extrinsically motivated can be something you do not even like. Something that you are solely doing to get the thing that you actually want. This would not constitute a problem as long as there was a guarantee that you would finally get to that thing that you want after spending your time on something that you do not like. But maybe you will never get there and end up wasting your time on something that neither brought you forward on your path nor enjoyed doing. This is not meant to discourage you from doing things you do not like perfectly in order to realize your dreams. Very often it is actually necessary to do something unpleasant for a limited amount of time, knowing that it is an indispensable step on the way to reach your ultimate goals. A banal example, there were so many subjects in high school that I did not like, like physics for instance, but now years after taking them I am glad that I did. In fact, I manage to explain many simple everyday life phenomena with my basic knowledge of the subject. I love that about learning and being able to explain things to myself.

Back on track: I would like to apply this idea on the contemporary notion of success:

Success has become an external motivation in today’s world. It seems that success is no longer a personal thing but rather a means of earning the respect and admiration from society. But what is the use if you are not even enjoying what you do to be successful? How does that enrich your life? Admittedly, we all want to be respected and there is nothing wrong about that. What I would like to argue is that if we desire to be successful, we should do so because we find pleasure in achievement. What is there more satisfying than accomplishing your own mission? The feeling of self-determination and advancement? The growth of oneself as a person? In contrast to that, admiration by others seems to diminish in importance tremendously. Never make success an external motivation. If you want to be successful, be it because it enriches your personal life.

A person who is satisfied with his or her own life will not depend on external applause; the inner applause is so much louder!


Svea Freiberg


* This is a sneak peak of the upcoming October issue of the Magazine. Stay tuned!




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