Certainly this is due to the fact that we are different from each other – we like different things, we were brought up in different environments, we have different talents, different psycho-physical abilities. But the willingness and ease with which we take to the tasks depends also on our internal motivation, which in turn is strengthened by the most important values for us – the power and meaning that flow from them.
So what exactly is intrinsic motivation?
According to Wikipedia, intrinsic motivation causes behavior that is not aimed at achieving external rewards, and the activity undertaken is an end in itself.
Intrinsically motivated activities lead to a specific state of mind, called the sense of flow, which consists in losing the sense of the passage of time and focusing on the very act of performing the task, and sidelining the result of the task.
This motivation can also be understood as something that stimulates us to act and allows us to persevere in this action, because thanks to this we feel good, get to know something new, or naturally expand our knowledge and develop our potential.
In contrast, external motivation is engaging in an activity to achieve the desired external consequences, not the activity itself.
Let’s take exercise as an example – some people exercise regularly because they like to move (internal motivation), others because they have a doctor’s recommendation to lose weight (external motivation). You can also start a given activity if you don’t feel like it, but during it you discover that you get real pleasure from it and want to do more (internal motivation).
If we wanted to determine whether a given behavior is due to internal or external motivation, we should answer the question why am I doing this?
This is where the topic of personal values comes in
Values can be understood as life guidelines that are followed by every person, and which are chosen voluntarily by him or given as a result of upbringing or education. Personal values reflect inner beliefs, needs, desires, and priorities. They are part of the behavioral parameters that people possess and consider to be correct.
Personal values understood in this way are flexible and can change as we grow and change, experience various situations and overcome inevitable life difficulties.
Where did the idea come from that personal values influence our intrinsic motivation, which in turn, in a natural, pleasant and light way, can lead us to implement our plans, achieve success and fulfillment? We are more willing to undertake a specific task when we feel and know that it is important to us. When it reflects our beliefs, is in line with the principles we follow, it ignites our cognitive curiosity and makes us feel that it brings this “something” to our lives, in which everyday life makes more sense. We then feel that we go with the flow, ready for possible challenges, motivated from the inside to continue, not to give up, to pursue our plans, goals, dreams, which, after all, reflect everything that is important to us, who we already are and who else we can become. Following your curiosity while using the resources and potentials you already have, which will be supported by the foundations of values - motivation engines, can lead us to where we really want to go.
To make this path easier, I invite you now to discover your personal values …
Prepare a piece of paper, something to write on and give yourself time for reflection … Write down the answers as soon as they appear in your head:
At the beginning remember yourself from your childhood, recall your first memories of what you were like at that time? How and with whom did you spend your time? What was important then?
Now think about the time of your growing up and entering adulthood – What was important then? Who did you consider an authority figure? Idol? What features did you personify?
Remember the most important events in your life – what feelings did they evoke in you? What values did they reflect?
Think about your favorite books, songs, movies, paintings or other forms of culture and art that are important to you – what words, sentences and meanings are hidden in them?
Now think about your friends – what do you value them for?
Then we will deal with work – what values made you do what you do in your professional life?
Which elements of your work are most important to you? What values are they about?
When you think about all aspects of your life, which values are important to you at this stage? Which one would you like to develop?
Now look at your answers – are there any values repeating itself? Which were important when you were a child and which are important now? What changed?
Once you have analyzed your answers, try to choose the 3 most important values for you – also think about how you realistically manifest them in your life and how you feel about it. Do your values work in your favor? Do they add strength, courage and self-confidence? Are they an internal motivator?
If not – it’s time to discover why we are relying on something that does not serve us and consciously change unwanted beliefs.
And if so – go ahead to live in harmony with yourself and realize your potential!
Agnieszka Zawiślak is an educator, trainer, coach and facilitator. She has graduated
Educational and Cultural Studies at the University of Silesia in Katowice and Coaching Academy in the Institute of Coaching People in Katowice. Since 2006 she’s been involved in international youth projects, starting as a volunteer and through the time, experience and education gained by participating in trainings, seminars and courses, she begun working as a freelance trainer and facilitator. Now she collaborates with organizations focused on work with youth all over Europe.
She believes that learning and growing comes from many different life experiences, that take a person out of their comfort zone: „Out of the comfort zone is where the magic happens”.
This article is the result of the „Wider Horizons” project, implemented by Development Support Foundation Innovator.
Project is co-financed by the European Union under Erasmus + Programme. (KA1 – Learning mobility of individuals, Mobility of adult education staff, Agreement No. 2020-1-PL01-KA104-079945).
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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