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  • Writer's pictureScott Fitzgerald

Intrinsic motivation vs extrinsic motivation - Could this be linked to depression?

Hi all, Scott Fitzgerald here. I wanted to talk today about intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. What are these? An intrinsic motivation is something that you do because basically you love to do it at a core level. For example if you play the guitar just because you love playing the guitar, you love music, you love hearing the sounds and playing music. Or you buy expensive running trainers because you love running and these shoes will help you better with running.

An extrinsic motivation is something that you do because you get driven by external rewards. For example you play the guitar because purely you want to earn money from it. Or you buy really expensive running trainers because they look good and your friends have them and you want better ones. It is easy in life to get wrapped up in things that are purely extrinsic values because society has pretty much told us from an early age that these are the things that will make you happy. New cars, new watches, new television, new phone, new shoes, new clothes, new gadgets... NEW NEW NEW... THE LIST GOES ON AND ON AND NOT ONE OF THEM WILL BRING YOU TRUE HAPPINESS.

How do you know if something is intrinsic or extrinsic?

Why you do something? Why you want something?

If you want a new TV ask yourself why do you want a new TV? Whats wrong with the old TV? What will a new TV bring you? It might just be that there is nothing wrong with the old TV, you had it a couple of years and there are new updated models out which is a better picture and sound quality. This in turn will give you a few days, maybe a weeks worth of enjoyment until your eyes and ears get adjusted to it and you don't even notice the difference anymore,

When asking these questions don't let the voice of your Ego confuse you, that voice will tell you that you need this, you deserve this, everyone has one.... and so on and so on.... All 100% load of rubbish.

What makes us think extrinsic motivators improve our lives

I believe its the amount of advertising we have in our day to day lives puts in our heads that this is the stuff that is going to make us happy.

Think about how an advertisement is made... An advert doesn't say to you your'e good enough as you are NO NO NO... Lets face it that would be a terrible advert. An advert would say to you that you need something that will enhance your life. Take for example an advert was selling a new pair of shoes, they wouldn't come out with that the shoes you have at the moment are fine (which they probably are), they would say that these shoes are the best and your shoes are nothing compared to these new shoes.

How much advertising that gets put into you head on a daily basis. Advertising on TV ads, TV programs, websites, social media, on billboards, radio, through the post, even on petrol pumps.... A lot of advertising gets seen on a daily basis but a lot of this advertising gets put in our heads subliminally as well. Take for example listening to the radio at work, you may be fully concentrating on your work and have a radio on in the background, you are still listening to that radio and having the advertising pumping into your head.

This has all been going on since we were born, how old were you when you were watching TV? If you were a young kid like me watching kids programs you no doubt had all the toy advertisements in the middle of the programs you were watching, and then wanted those toys.

What links following extrinsic motivations to depression

Extrinsic motivations bring no real value at a deeper level to your life. Buying a TV 2 inches bigger than your neighbours or having a better car than your friend does nothing to enhance you as a person and nothing to help you be happy at a core level.

I find people work jobs that they hate and work jobs that bring no real meaning to there life because of the money the job pays to which they then go and spend this following extrinsic values which bring no value to them. Doing this they don't follow their dream jobs of what they were brought onto this planet to do all because they follow the wrong motivators in life.


  1. Think of the things in your life at the moment and work out are they there for intrinsic motivation or purely extrinsic motivation.

  2. Write a list of the things you want in life. Write two columns, one intrinsic and the other extrinsic, decide which of the things you want in life are intrinsic and what are extrinsic.

  3. Count up how much advertising you see and hear each day (chances are good by doing this you will still miss a lot)

  4. REMOVE AS MUCH ADVERTISING IN YOUR LIFE AS POSSIBLE (I know you cant tear down the billboards at the train station but you can switch off your TV's and radio)


Get rid of your extrinsic motivators and follow your intrinsic motivators, you will start finding life gets a lot less depressing and a lot more meaningful.

If you need help in this area then please don't hesitate to call Scott on 07525851033 and book a free initial consultation.

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