The first step in motivating oneself is defining the motive for your engagement. This could coincide with two categories; internal and instrumental. An internal motive is for the personal gain of discovery for example, a personal trainer wants to discover the effects of a new workout routine so he researches this routine my implementing it as his new workout. This is internal because, the trainer wanting to discover the workouts effects is intrinsically related to research. Now say he wanted to discover the effects of this new routine to have it published in a fitness magazine to gain prominence in the workout culture, this would be an instrumental motive since, the relation between fame and research does not inherently coincide. However, people often have both internal and instrumental motives for their activities.
So one may ask, what is the appropriate mix of motives or which single motive is most advantageous in achieving success? One may come to believe that being motivated by both desires is more favorable than motivation by just one desire however, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences may disagree. One of their recently published articles is quoted saying, “instrumental motives are not always and asset and can actually be counterproductive to success.”
Data was drawn from 11,320 freshman cadets at West Point who were asked to rate what set of motives influenced their desires to attend the Military Academy. The data was examined five years later and without surprise to the NAS those with stronger internal reasons were more likely to graduate, become commissioned officers, and retain their service after their five years of required duty. Unless, they also combined this drive with strong instrumental motives. The combination of both motives lead to worse performance measures on graduation, effectiveness as a military officer, and less commitment to staying in the military.
The study suggest that when a person focuses on the impact and significance of their work instead of the financial or personal gain from that this may be the best and most effective way to improve quality of their work but also, their financial and personal gains.
So, next time you’re trying to motivate yourself t success focus on the significance and importance your work has as a whole and the personal gains will follow. Focus on the task at hand and challenge yourself to deliver better quality each and every time.