5 Ways to Make Better Use of External Motivation

if your boss gave you a 50% raise, how would you feel? Will it make you happy? How about more driven and motivated to prove yourself? What about situations where you go to the store and can earn your credit card points? This will make you more likely to keep spending so that you can keep accumulating points? Most people will say yes to the above questions. And that's a great answer. After all, there is nothing wrong with being appreciated and rewarded for your hard work and efforts, right? These types of recognition and rewards are just a few examples of what is known as extrinsic incentives (extrinsic motivation). External stimuli may not quite match their better half—internal appearance. It's something we constantly say to just about everyone—from psychologists, coaches, gurus, career counselors, entrepreneurs, and likes. He still does the job of getting us moving, but not quite on the same level as his twin, and not for long. Simply put, external rewards do not last long, we constantly hear. And yet, it also does not deny that external motivation works. Pretty good, actually. That is why it is still widely used today. It's fast, tangible, can often be specifically measured and adjusted (think bonuses) and provides a decent push in the right direction. Therefore, it can be quite successfully used to get things done, to reach our goals and even get started.

What is External Motivation?

Let's take a small step back and agree on what extrinsic motivation is and how it works. External motivation (as opposed to internal) means that we do something not for the sake of internal fulfillment (what we want), but to get rewarded or avoid punishment. It often happens that you don't want to do something, but you have to do it. It may feel like an additional obligation rather than an activity that will bring you pleasure or fulfillment. External motivation comes from outside. It comes from little things like money, recognition, fame, or praise. For example, a student who does their homework because they are afraid of parental sanctions is motivated from outside. In contrast, if they are doing it because they are interested or believe it will help them practice and improve their skills, they will be on the inside. Both types of motivation work to get us moving. But the intensity and desire, and most importantly, the quality of our results, can be a little different.

How Well Does It Work?

Research has confirmed time and time again that intrinsic motivation is the preferred way to go if a person wants to have the drive to “do things” to perform better, to improve themselves. In a previous post Why intrinsic motivation is so powerful (and how to find it)I wrote about why intrinsic motivation tends to top out extrinsic. So, internal incentives seem to be the winner without a doubt. But this does not mean that we should abandon external rewards, such as "second-hand" or ineffective. Because it won't be true. External motivation is a good performer in its own right. When used correctly, it can also deliver. However, it comes with small print. First, extrinsic motivators are susceptible to the so-called hedonic treadmill (aka hedonic adaptation).((It's very good to remember: hedonic adaptation: how to minimize its impact on happiness levels)) it just means that we quickly get used to the good. Research tells us that if you get a promotion, more money, a new car, or a designer handbag, "tall" has a very short lifespan. Shortly thereafter, you need a new push to get to the upper world of feeling. It never ends, just like running on a treadmill. There are also some studies to confirm that when we are externally driven, the quality of our work, retention and creativity are not just as good as those with intrinsic motivation.((Ver well mind: extrinsic motivation)) it is most likely related to the “I want” and “must” state of mind. You start with a different mindset and end up with a different result. No big surprise. Finally, research tells us that extrinsic motivation can interfere with intrinsic motivation and actually reduce it. This phenomenon is called the “overjustification effect”.((American Psychological Association: overjustification effect)) to put it simply, if you liked doing something and started getting rewarded for it, your internal drive to do it will gradually go down. You won't feel the same inspiration. Regardless, extrinsic motivators can still spring you into action. After all, not everything you do can be very enjoyable and fulfilling, right? But if you have to do something that you may not quite feel like doing, extrinsic rewards can often push you through that extra mile you have to get to the finish line, especially when it comes to academic fields (think classes) and work (labour, salaries and recognition).


5 ways to make the best use of your extrinsic motivations

Here's how you can better use external factors to boost your productivity, achieve your goals, and improve your life.

1. A quick punch to force yourself to do something.

How many times have you said to yourself, “If I do X, then I will treat myself to G”? For example, “if you don’t change my diet this week, I can afford a slice of cake for the weekend” or “if I work hard and have a career, I will buy a more expensive car.” True, when we see "carrots" up close and in sight, it can make us more determined to get it. This is called immediate gratification, and its relationship to a concept in psychology and behavioral economics known as “hyperbolic discounting.” Behavioral economics will be the salvation from drug addiction)) we tend to gravitate towards immediate rewards (“I'll take $50 today) and expected benefits in the future ($100 in 6 months). In experiments, people constantly take the option "now" for the choice to have more, but later. The same applies to motivation, although internal incentives can give us much more (including material values), ultimately there is still a level of uncertainty, because you often have to play the long game and wait for your passion to pay off, especially financially. plan. There is also the question of how fulfilled you can feel to do things solely for your own enjoyment, even when no one recognizes your efforts, skills, or accomplishments.

2. Make Others (Or Yourself) Do What You Do What

Convincing other people to do what we want is undoubtedly an invaluable skill. And one of the best ways to achieve just that... is to give them a compliment. It can be in the form of positive feedback or praise. But it's an immediate reward that can work wonders on people. According to research, compliments have the same effect on the brain as getting cash and can improve productivity.((Science Daily: the scientific explanation for why people perform better when they receive a compliment)) therefore, they are equivalent to a powerful motivational punch. Research tells us that getting an endorsement can also increase productivity.((Merel Zandstra: The Impact of Compliments on Productivity.)) Plus, it can make you more productive, engaged, and likely stay with your company a little longer.((Learning magazine : the power of praise and recognition)) So whether you're a manager who wants to give your employees a boost, or ask a friend to do you a favor, or even maybe force yourself to do something you've been putting off—a compliment. Of course, if you're always asking for compliments or giving yourself too much, it could mean that you have a bit of a narcissistic streak in your personality. Which of course will make you very vulnerable to the hedonic treadmill trap. Also, if you're trying to get others to do what you want by playing on your soft side, you're stepping into dangerous Machiavellian territory. So when you give others or yourself compliments instead of receiving them, make sure there is some truth in them. Unearned praise can backfire, studies have found.

3. Show me the money

Remember this epic phrase from the movie "Jerry Maguire"? Money is a controversial motivator, multiple studies tell us. We've all heard of the magic $75k number ((SPNA: high income improves life scores, but not emotional well-being))—threshold, beyond which transferring money won't bring us any more fulfillment or fulfillment. Or, to put it in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“Money doesn't make you happy. Now I have $50 million, but I was just as happy when I had $48 million.”

And yet, money is still a powerful drive for many of us because of the many benefits it brings to the table. But instead of focusing on quantity (“I want to have a million dollars in the bank”), I think that in terms of the benefits of improving your financial performance, mainly freedom, this will give you less stress and worry (about money). Or consider all the less fortunate people you can help if you have a little more to spare—which can be a strong and proper incentive to go after more money.

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4. Recognition and fame are not so bad actually

Sometimes our jobs require us to work long hours. And we often do it because we “have to”—whether it's someone with a deadline and need to finish a project, get recognition, get a promotion, or just—to keep their job. All these external causes. On the surface, extra work doesn't seem to take you away from your free time, from the things you really enjoy doing, from the people you want to be. But that's just one way to look at it. What if you used the extra time at work to focus on improving—on honing your skills, honing your craft, on acquiring knowledge? You can become good at what you do, even better, without having to love every second of it. Work, for all of us—whether you're an entrepreneur, teacher, accountant, or Bill Gates—there's always an element of commitment and having to push yourself for days to get through a day or a difficult task. But if you refine your competencies, there is a good chance that you will also be recognized, encouraged and respected. And who doesn't want their work to be recognized after all?

5. Carrots and sticks

The good old carrot-and-stick debate goes back probably several centuries. As probably the most recognizable and widely used extrinsic motivators in the workplace. “Carrot and stick” simply means that in order to go above and beyond what we do, employers use rewards (wage increases, bonuses, recognition, positive feedback) and punishments (negative feedback, but, downgrading in positions). It's been a hot topic for organizational psychologists for a while, what works best and if a reward-punishment approach is even the best way to motivate people. There seems to be more evidence to support camp rewards ((Harvard Business Review: What motivates employees: rewards or punishments?)) which includes everything we've discussed so far—money, recognition, positive feedback. These get better results as extrinsic motivators go. But punishment also works. For example, if you are afraid that you might not be able to take a test, this may push you to study harder. If you're afraid of getting adverse feedback in your annual review, you'll be trying to perform above average throughout the year. You may not be happy or feel joy in such things, but the fact is that chances are you will do them anyway. Scaring yourself a little can certainly be beneficial, as "if I don't study, I'll fail the test" or "if I don't start eating healthy, as the doctor said, I might have a heart attack." While not the most pleasant ways to seduce yourself into doing what needs to be done, punishment can also do the trick when it comes to motivation.

Final Thoughts

What I am trying to convey is that extrinsic motivation is not good enough in certain situations and with certain people. It can be used to spring into action and force others to do what we want. It can also lead to fairly predictable results. What's more—it's not shameful, driven by extrinsic rewards. Of course, the domestic ones are better and more sustainable in the long run, but this does not mean that you cannot achieve your goals if you rely on external incentives. And since they seem to be more straightforward and can bring predictable results, we can all and should use them to our advantage. You just have to remember that if you are doing something purely for fame, money or fame, it won't last. Remember the hedonic treadmill? Maybe true success can only be found at the crossroads of two types of motivation—intrinsic and extrinsic. That is, enjoy what you do and reap the rewards of recognition and respect. A piece in AEON magazine nicely sums it up:((AEON magazine: praise them))

“Success doesn't require recognition, but it's better in general that people listen to your music, read your words, taste your food than not. Also, although we should not pay too much attention to the opinions of others, they are not interested in anything that is eminently arrogant. Recognition is success, although it is not the main indicator of it.”

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