Harnessing the Power of Intrinsic Motivation

Have you ever wondered how babies learn to walk, talk, or eat for that matter? While they certainly have a lot of support from the people around them, no one really sits down and explains to their child how to put one foot in front of the other. What really drives childhood learning is curiosity, observation, and experimentation.

When you spend most of your life in school, it’s easy to assume that the only reliable way to learn a subject is to read a textbook or listen to a lecture. But take a minute to think back on all of the things you’ve learned outside of school—things like how to cook, how to navigate your way around, how to nag your parents with just the right amount of finesse to get what you want—and you’ll see that that’s simply not true. In fact, some of the skills that you learn outside of school may turn out to be the most useful.

Psychologists have identified two different kinds of motivation: extrinsic (driven by external factors, like rewards and punishments from teachers) and intrinsic (driven by internal factors, like personal interests and goals). Unsurprisingly, intrinsic motivation plays a much greater role in successful learning. Free yourself up to learn a language, an instrument, a craft. Explore your hobbies—maybe one of them is just waiting to become an employable skill.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas.

Read deeply

There are literally millions of books in the world, and if you’ve never found one that engaged you, you probably haven’t looked hard enough. Reading is one of the best ways to soak up information about the world, and reading about a subject that interests you can be rewarding in many ways.

Join conversations

You’re lucky to be alive in the tech age, when communities of passionate individuals are just a Google search away. If you’re interested in learning more about a subject, why not look for an online forum or blogging community? It might even lead you to some interesting job or internship opportunities.

Start conversations

If you can’t find exactly the community you’re looking for, you could try to start one yourself. Create a blog about the subject you’re learning about, write about your discoveries, and try to connect with people with similar interests.

The world is changing rapidly. In a few years, you might find yourself applying to work in a field that doesn’t even exist yet. The most important aspect of crafting a fulfilling life and career for yourself isn’t just what you’ve learned, it’s how you learn. If you observe the world, foster curiosity, and above all, listen to your passions, you’ll be well on your way to a fulfilling life of growth and learning.


Credit pic: http://studyob.com/intrinsic-motivation-extrinsic-motivation/


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