Saturday, December 11, 2010

Final Post: Intrinsic Pushes vs. Extrinsic Pulls

Motivation is the drive towards an end-state where we attain the motives, goals, needs, and incentives in which we seek for ourselves. Whether the push be internal by biological or psychological variables, or a pull by external sources like environmental variables, there is always a factor motivating us that determines our actions and behaviors. However, sometimes what is driving us towards our goals are so ambiguous we lose sight of why we are headed in that direction in the first place. The question then becomes are the reasons for our motivation always the right ones? Are the pushes and the pulls always in our best interest, or do we disregard that and choose to use it as a driving force anyway because we are so set on a desirable end-state?

I've been in college for the past four and a half years, and in a week all of that time, work, effort will be summed up into the moment I'm handed my degree. Of course I am proud of my accomplishments, it has been a long road. However, at the same time, I ponder what really has inspired me to stay with this the whole time. Personally, college was not the most ideal chapter of my life. I love learning and being productive and enlightened, yet I was confused half of the time as to what I was doing or where I was going, and what was driving me in any direction at all. I never had a second to breathe, figure myself out, and head in the exact direction that I would have chosen for myself, with my best interest at heart. This bothered me and was always in the back of my mind.

It became apparent to me that motivation can be of an extrinsic and intrinsic manner. Extrinsically, there are external sources such as money, good grades, approval of others, or a degree that can define our actions. Yet, there's also an intinsic motivation that isn't environmentally driven, but is freely chosen with a genuine compassion that can define our behaviors as well. Taking the two into consideration, I evaluated my life. Were the reasons for my motivation adequate for what I wanted for myself? Much of my college career has been motivated by:
-Approval and aspirations of my parents and family.
-Money/Job opportunities that come with higher education
-Expectations of and conforming to this society
-Good grades to keep my scholarship

These are all classified as extrinsic motives. Although they contributed greatly to my success as a college graduate, I still felt like my own personal desires were missing from what's been pushing me down this path for years now. I am fortunate for the extrinsic motivating factors that have kept me focused, goal-oriented, and driven towards an end-state. However, the intrisinc factor was nonexistent for the most part, which was disappointing to me. As a person, I feel that in life my motivational orientation is intrisically oriented. I value the things in life that I enjoy doing, that make me and others happy, that euphoria from just living and loving life. Those are the things I feel that drive me day after day to be and act as who I am. Yet, college was thrown into the mix of that for other external reasons, and I set myself to achieve it. It simply was because I knew that although it's not as intrisically motivated as I'd hoped, it was goin to be beneficial to my growth as a person. I've learned a lot as a college student, and if it hadn't been for environmental factors pulling me, I may have never accomplished such a goal.

Yet, behavior that begins for extrinsic reasons can have the opportunity to be performed for it's own sake, or for intrinsic reasons. This concept, the functional autonomy of motives, can shift motivation for a person from extrinsic to intrinsic, and vise versa. I feel that that's exactly what I've experienced through these years of college. Initially, it started out that I was being pulled by external factors, taking classes and working hard to reach the end-state expected of me. However, as I found my place as a psychology major, learning and working became a genuine passion more so than a forceful push. Through this experience, I eventually now have found myself, figured myself out, and know that I want to progress in life to become a therapist. I've discovered that my intrisinic-oriented nature will be useful through helping other people, contributing to the well-being of others, and improving others' lives through therapy, something that I am so compassionate about. Without college, I doubt I'd ever have found that spot for myself in the world. And without motivation, I would have never succeeded in actually doing it. "What was a means to an end has became an end in itself"; ironically, the journey became more valuable than the destination.

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