The ONE Type of Motivation That Will Make You Thrive in Times of Uncertainty

Motivation, motivation, motivation… many talk about it but I believe few talk about the one tactic moving the needle in our daily life. Motivation is what drives us to act and yet why so often do we get carried away doing things that don’t bring us true fulfilment? We live in a world where we continuously feel the need to chase something better, but for what exact purpose? It’s noisy out there, we easily fall into the comparison trap making decisions that aren’t aligned to our values. As an entrepreneur, I had always considered motivation to be a beautiful “one dimensional” source of energy but when I studied it closely, I discovered 2 different types  bringing about different results. At a high level, motivation is an emotional reaction that spikes in our brain when we believe we are about to experience something pleasurable and rewarding.

The first type of motivation is called extrinsic motivation and its driven by our desire for external rewards. Simple examples of external rewards? Money and status! The problem with being motivated by external rewards is we rarely are in the position to control the size or measure of it and so our relationship often becomes one of dependency.

The second type is called intrinsic motivation and is a lot more powerful as it’s the natural motivation we have within us where no external reward or incentive is needed. This is where I believe true richness and freedom lies!

Intrinsic motivation is our natural tendency to seek out novelty, to stetch our capacity, to explore, to learn. Studies show intrinsic motivation drives enhanced, performance, creativity, and even psychological wellness as feelings of positive excitement predominate over the ones of stress.  A simple example of intrinsic motivation? Pursuing your project for the purpose of challenging yourself.

Being intrinsically motivated is a more empowering place to be in as we look inwards rather than outwards, we don’t need as many external rewards to drive us further, we depend less on others and more on ourselves. As a result of this we experience greater fulfilment, resilience, and even become our biggest critic, in a good way! In a way where we are running life and not the other way round.

Are you managing a team? Research shows that intrinsically motivated people show 46% higher levels of job satisfaction and 32% higher commitment to their jobs.

So what are some of the necessary conditions to thrive on intrinsic motivation?

1)A sense of autonomy

This means having freedom in the way we conduct our work. When we experience freedom, we believe we have more control over our choices( technically known as self-efficacy) and research has shown the stronger our perceived self-efficacy, the higher the goals we set for ourselves.

2) A sense of competence.

This means doing high quality work in a state of optimal challenge where we experience the right balance between boredom and anxiety. If we take a challenge that it´s too easy for our skill level, we’ll get bored whereas if we choose a task that feels way beyond our abilities, we’ll freak out, get anxious losing intrinsic motivation as a result.

3) A sense of meaning

This is plain and simple: doing work that profoundly moves us. “Why am I doing all of this? What greater purpose or cause am I fulfilling other than paying the bills and having a good life?” When we are purpose driven, we are able to inspire and engage in greater relationships with people around us, a key aspect for our productivity and general wellbeing. In fact, when looking at the external factors that mostly influence our intrinsic motivation at work, the ability to connect with people is what we find the most rewarding. This reward can come in the form of receiving continuous feedback or any type appraisal and it can go a longer way than money and perks.

Living off only intrinsic motivation may sound to some degree wishful thinking however operating from it as much as possible is one of the greatest gifts we can do to ourselves and those around us.

Work smarter, live consciously!

A passionate entrepreneur with a relentless aspiration to empower people to live by their full potential, Filippo di Lenardo is the co-founder of 3SSENTIA, the next generation day planner inspired by the science of well being and productivity that helps professionals achieve their goals with more focus, balance and purpose.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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