Internal or External Motivation?

Ever wondered which is more important – internal or external motivation?

Me too.

But I firmly believe that how you choose to spend the majority of your time should be dictated by your internal motivations. If it comes from within you, that means that there’s a good reason why you feel strongly about it.

On the other hand, external motivation is fleeting. Once that motivation is gone, there’s really no reason to pursue it anymore.

For example, authors readily admit that they don’t earn a lot of money from writing books. But they do it because it’s what they love (and want) to do.

Loansharks, on the other hand, only do what they do because of money.

Perhaps not the best example. But do you see the difference?

If you’re not internally motivated, you’ll always be at the mercy of external forces

So in short, if you have to choose one or the other, choose internal motivation.


What I didn’t realize was the incredible potency of using both forms of motivation together. I was enlightened by my friend Neil, who is a spoken word artist. He has mastered the ability to use them both to his advantage.


In a nutshell, internal and external motivation have different functions.

Internal motivation is vital because it gives you the desire to do what you want to do. Nothing beats that internal drive that gives you the strength and willingness to overcome every obstacle in your way. For example, my goal is to tell great stories so that people can take inspiration, motivation, and hope

For example, my goal is to tell great stories so that people can take inspiration, motivation, and hope from it. So that’s why I’m more than happy to do it now even though I’m not making money from it – though I definitely want to in the near future.

External motivation, on the other hand, serves as your “light at the end of the tunnel”. It gives you a defined end goal so that you can see where you are going, a schedule to stick to so you can get there, and it holds you accountable to what you said you were going to do.

So if internal motivation is me wanting to be a story-teller, external motivation is me being a story-teller every Sunday with my vlogs.

To summarize

Here is how I would define the two.

Internal motivation: It is an abstract desire or dream that you have. It is something you are willing to work for no matter what.

External motivation: It gives you a tangible goal to strive for and a schedule to achieve it.

What this means is that if you had to choose one, always choose internal motivation. But also know that when you use both, there is really nothing you can’t do.

Those are my thoughts. But I’d be interested to know what you think. I’ve rationalized it, but it doesn’t mean I’m right :p