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The 15 Commandments of Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation can help you live better and accomplish more. Learn how to take more satisfaction in everything you do rather than depending solely on external motivators. These 15 commandments will help you to set your own course and live a fuller life.

Selecting Meaningful Activities

  • Identify flow experiences. You’ve probably heard about flow. Those are the occasions when you get so caught up in what you’re doing that you lose track of time. You enter a blissful state where everything seems effortless.
  • Keep a feelings log. If you need help determining what conditions trigger flow for you, try starting a journal. You may find that gardening or number crunching gets you fully engaged. It may turn out that you’re a morning person or that you do your best work after dinner.
  • Set specific goals. Learning and progressing are also essential to keeping an activity interesting. Give yourself measurable targets and timelines to aim for.
  • Take on new challenges. Stretch your abilities by venturing into new areas. Put yourself to the test with something that’s demanding, but within reach. Rehearse a new piece of piano music or prepare to take a certification examination for a popular software program.
  • Streamline your schedule. On the other hand, you may also benefit by removing some tasks from your to do list to make more time for things that are most important to you.

Making Every Activity More Meaningful

  • Understand the motivation continuum. Many experts believe that most of our actions reflect a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. For example, you may value both your paycheck and the contribution your job makes to society.
  • Participate more intensely. Sometimes a boring task can be transformed by turning it into a game. When cleaning out the garage, try to guess how long a can of paint has been there.
  • Adopt deep learning strategies. Choose study methods that help you to retain more knowledge. Think about how the facts relate to your own life. Evaluate what you read. Write down your own summary of the material you’ve covered.
  • Enlist support. Working in groups can liven up a tedious chore. Gather your neighbors together to spruce up a local park. Share responsibility whenever possible.
  • Clarify your purpose. Ask yourself why you’re doing something. It’s easier to exercise when you remember that you want to lose weight.
  • Radiate enthusiasm. A positive attitude will make any job less stressful. Smile and look on the bright side. For example, if you’re dreading your grocery shopping, find a reason to laugh while doing it.
  • Exchange feedback. We can all help each other to feel motivated by being willing to share constructive feedback. Provide tactful and timely information on how to get better.
  • Seek variety. Alternating between tasks can help you stay fresh. Devote 15 minutes at a time to completing your expense reports and filing documents. You may find both projects more pleasant.
  • Get adequate rest. Building regular breaks into your schedule also keeps you motivated and in top condition. Make time for play and reflection. Stick to a consistent bedtime and take naps if you need to supplement your overnight sleep.
  • Serve others. All work becomes more joyful and fulfilling when you view it from the perspective of how it helps others. There are certain careers and activities that lend themselves to this. Maybe you do volunteer work at the local animal shelter. Or perhaps you are a nurse or a teacher that helps others on a daily basis. Assisting others is motivating!

Welcome more fun into your life by letting your passions drive you. Even washing the dishes will become more satisfying when you align your daily activities with internal sources of motivation.

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