Understanding Individual Motivation

Understanding Individual Motivation2

As we consider what does and doesn’t motivate us, highly influenced by our emotions and our personality, we should take a look at the concept of “autotelic” activities, or activities that are intrinsically motivating to us even if they lack a clear reward or outcome. We simply do it because we love it, not because it’s getting us anything in return. A passion project, a favorite hobby, the thing you do that makes no sense to anyone else. (Feel free to refer to this article when you need to explain to your husband why your sixty houseplants make you happy.) These activities have high motivation markers, and we can take pieces of this concept and apply it to the dreaded… UN-MOTIVATION.


While we know we can’t turn every unmotivating activity into something we’re chomping at the bit to do, let’s take a page from the autotelic book: if we have any activity, behavior, or accomplishment we’re reaching for, but it isn’t coming easy, we can hone in on making the *thing* more intrinsically motivating. The important piece of “autotelic” activities is that they aren’t for anyone else, they’re not for some predetermined outcome other than self-satisfaction, we do them “just because” they make us happy. How can we bring this idea into our current goals, especially the ones that are feeling hard? How can we strip away any of the extrinsic “stuff”—the recognition, the avoidance of consequences, the approval from others, and dial back into the way achieving it would make us feel?


And that, my friend, is how we motivate ourselves to change. Clear away the noise and get back to why you’re doing it for you.

Souders, B. (2021, March 17). Motivation and What Really Drives Human Behavior. PositivePsychology.com. https://positivepsychology.com/motivation-human-behavior/.