Beyond Rewards and Perks: Igniting the Power of Intrinsic Motivation 

Beyond Rewards and Perks: Igniting the Power of Intrinsic Motivation 

Do you feel unmotivated in your job and struggling to find your career path? Or are you wondering if there’s more to work than just a paycheck? You’re not alone. Many of us have been there, and there’s a powerful force that can change your perspective on work and life—intrinsic motivation.  

Work is not just about salary and benefits. What truly sets apart successful and satisfied individuals in their careers is their internal drive, passion, purpose, and pursuit of personal growth. These are the pillars of intrinsic motivation, the secret to a thriving life. In this article, we’ll help you understand its meaning, how it’s connected to your job satisfaction, and how you can keep the fire burning. 

What Is Intrinsic Motivation? 

Intrinsic motivation is the internal drive and desire that propels you to do something not for external rewards or recognition but because it genuinely fulfills you. It comes from within, fueled by personal fulfillment, curiosity, accomplishment, or simply enjoying what you do.  

Think about when you immersed yourself in a hobby or a task simply because you found it deeply fulfilling or enjoyable. Without thinking of any prize or having someone to ask you, you just do it, pushing yourself to learn, explore, and achieve because it feels right and meaningful.  

Related reading: Skills That Set You Apart: Navigating the Job Market with Today’s Essential Soft Skills 

Purpose, Growth, and Control: The Key Drivers of Intrinsic Motivation 

Understanding what truly drives your inner passions and ambitions can help you ignite your intrinsic motivation. 

1. The Power of Purpose 

Having meaning and contributing to a greater good can be a powerful motivator. You’re no longer just working for a paycheck; you’re working to make a difference. 

For instance, consider the healthcare professionals who work tirelessly to save lives or the educators who inspire future generations. Their sense of purpose goes beyond the routine tasks of their jobs. It’s the understanding that they are changing lives and making the world a better place. 

But you don’t need to be in a traditionally “noble” profession to find purpose in your work. Purpose can be found in any role when you connect your daily tasks to a bigger picture. A software developer may find purpose in creating a product that simplifies people’s lives, or a salesperson in connecting customers with solutions to their problems. 

Related Article: What Makes a Job Good? 5 Facets of Job Satisfaction 

2. The Role of Personal Growth 

According to the National Library of Science, many field studies have discovered a strong connection between intrinsic motivation and improved learning, performance, creativity, and emotional experience.¹ When you’re learning, improving, and growing in your job, it keeps you engaged and opens doors to new opportunities. The desire for self-improvement is a driving force in your career journey. 

Think of personal growth as a ladder. Every skill you acquire, every challenge you overcome, and every goal you achieve is like climbing one step higher. As you ascend, you become more capable and confident in your abilities. 

The beauty of personal growth is that it’s a self-perpetuating cycle. The more you learn, the more you’re motivated to know more. The more you achieve, the more you’re motivated to succeed. 

3. The Importance of Autonomy 

The ability to make decisions and have control over your work is a powerful driver of intrinsic motivation. When you have a say in how you approach your tasks, you’re more likely to be engaged and motivated. 

Autonomy doesn’t always mean being the boss or making all the decisions. It can be as simple as having the flexibility to choose your approach, set your goals, or have input on how things are done. In a workplace that values autonomy, you have a say in your destiny, and that’s a potent motivator. 

The Link Between Intrinsic Motivation and Job Satisfaction 

You might be wondering how all of this relates to job satisfaction. When you’re intrinsically motivated, you’re more likely to find satisfaction in your work. Here’s how: 

1. Less Burnout 

Intrinsic motivation acts as a buffer against burnout. You’re less likely to feel drained and exhausted by your work when you’re doing something because you love it. The passion and purpose behind your actions rejuvenate you. 

2. Higher Productivity 

A study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that when people are intrinsically motivated, they have more energy, stay committed, and feel enthusiastic, which leads to better performance and an overall sense of well-being.² Intrinsic motivation makes your tasks more efficient and effective because you’re genuinely engaged. You’re not just going through the motions; you’re putting your heart into your work. 

3. Improved Job Performance 

Autonomy allows you to excel in your role. You can experiment, innovate, and find creative solutions to problems. This often leads to improved job performance and results. 

4. Long-Term Satisfaction 

Extrinsic motivation, like a high salary or bonuses, can provide short-term satisfaction. However, these external factors can lose their appeal over time. Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, offers lasting satisfaction because it’s driven by your values and interests. According to McKinsey, a study shows that individuals who possess intrinsic motivation exhibit a 32 percent greater level of dedication to their work and enjoy a 46 percent increase in job contentment.³ 

Related Article: Embracing the Work-Life Balance Cycle: A Holistic Approach 

How to Ignite Your Intrinsic Motivation 

Now that you understand the importance of intrinsic motivation, here are steps you can take to increase it in your professional journey: 

1. Reflect on Your Passions 

When you’re passionate about your work, it doesn’t feel like work at all. Your enthusiasm fuels your creativity, and you’re willing to give it your best because you genuinely enjoy what you’re doing. So, how can you find your passion in your career?  

  • Start by exploring your interests.  
  • What excites you?  
  • What makes you lose track of time?  
  • What topics are you interested in? 

Your passion is often hiding in these moments of genuine enthusiasm. Once you’ve identified it, consider looking for ways to incorporate it into your work or explore career paths that align with your passions. 

2. Keep Learning 

Learning enhances your expertise and keeps your motivation levels high as you work toward mastery. Whether through formal education, workshops, online courses, or self-study, consider seeking opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills. 

3. Seek Autonomy 

If you’re in a position where you have some control, take advantage of it. Make decisions that align with your goals and values. If you don’t have much autonomy in your current role, consider discussing the possibility of taking on more responsibility or having a greater say in your work with your supervisor. Autonomy is a valuable aspect of job satisfaction and intrinsic motivation worth pursuing. 

4. Seek Feedback 

Constructive feedback is a valuable tool for growth and self-improvement. Embrace feedback as an opportunity to learn and develop your skills further. Constructive criticism can help you understand your strengths and areas for improvement. 

When seeking feedback, be open to different perspectives and receptive to suggestions. Use feedback to refine your goals and strategies, keeping your intrinsic motivation aligned with your aspirations. 

5. Network with Like-minded Individuals 

Consider surrounding yourself with people who share your interests and passions. Building a supportive community can provide inspiration, encouragement, and a sense of belonging. Connecting with like-minded individuals can also lead to valuable networking opportunities, collaborations, and mentorship. 

Join clubs, organizations, or online communities related to your passions and interests. Engage in discussions, attend events, and participate in activities that allow you to interact with people who share your motivation. 

6. Stay Resilient 

Understand that setbacks and challenges are a natural part of any journey. When you encounter obstacles, view them as opportunities for growth and learning rather than insurmountable barriers. 

Maintain a positive mindset, focus on solutions, and stay determined to overcome challenges. Remember that your career is a journey of self-discovery and continuous development. 

HAVING THE RIGHT JOB CAN HELP YOU UNLOCK THE POWER OF INTRINSIC MOTIVATION IN YOUR CAREER 

Being intrinsically motivated is easier when your workplace environment is welcoming and supportive. If you’re looking for a job that aligns with your personal goals and values and an employer that prioritizes well-being and growth, Galt Foundation can help. 

Our staffing company provides, promotes, and expands employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. We are committed to fostering a world of fairness, inclusivity, and abundant opportunities. Feel free to reach out to us today and learn more about how we can help you find the right employment opportunity. 

References 

1. Domenico, Stefano and Ryan, Richard. “The Emerging Neuroscience of Intrinsic Motivation: A New Frontier in Self-Determination Research.” National Library of Medicine, 24 Mar. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5364176. 

2. Manzoor, Faiza, et al. “Intrinsic Rewards and Employee’s Performance With the Mediating Mechanism of Employee’s Motivation.” Frontiers, 15 Jul. 2021, www.frontiersin.org/articles//fpsyg.2021.563070.  

3. Bazigos, Michael and Caruso, Emily. “Why frontline workers are disengaged.” McKinsey, 2 Mar. 2016, www.mckinsey.com/why-frontline-workers-are-disengaged. 

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