Elsewhere : The Science of Motivation

October 22, 2009

The good folks over at Stepcase Lifehack produced a great post this morning on the Science of Motivation.

Highlights include :

  • People will do for free what they will not do for cheap.
  • Long-term motivation comes not from promise of reward nor fear of punishment.
  • Any hobby can be rendered unpleasant by viewing it as “work”.
  • Any work can be rendered joyful by viewing it as “fulfilling” and finding non-reward and non-punishment reasons to look forward to it.
  • Advice on finding the intrinsic reward in a task.

I found the discussion on reward/punishment particularly interesting.

In the short-term, both of those can be seen as motivating. Heck, I used a monetary reward to get myself through NaNoWriMo last year. The danger, though, lies in the fact that I can’t keep monetarily rewarding myself for writing – then the act of writing becomes a means to a reward, rather than the reward itself.

I highly recommend visiting the original post. I love it when I have several “oh!” moments from a single blog post, and this one had them in spades.


  • Ailis October 22, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Wow, yeah great article. It is rather sad that most companies still see their employees as little children, for lack of a better example. “Do it right and you can have a cookie. Do it wrong and you’re grounded.”

    As far as the personal side of it, staying motivated is probably one of the biggest things we all struggle with; especially in this day and age of TV, Internet and a host of multimedia distractions that just fuel the ADD in all of us.

    I think you have to stay away from monetary rewards because then it does turn into a job and can have an adverse effect.
    .-= Ailis´s last blog ..Excuse Me While I Pontificate =-.

  • Tami October 22, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I think it’s still such a rare thing for a PERSON to find their own personal motivation, it’s even more rare for a company to encourage that in their day to day employees.

    I think that’s why motivational speakers are so popular at big company hooplas.

    You’re also too-right on the monetary reward thing – that’s a slippery slope indeed. Good for short term, disastrous long-term.

  • Ailis October 22, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    You’re absolutely right. We as people will set out to accomplish something, say, writing a book, but immediately our minds will start dredging up all the cons to writing a book and then start comparing your writing to the works of really successful authors and you find yourself asking yourself “Can I really do this?”

    At least that’s the daily hurdle I have to jump.

    I think we as a society have praised those who have accomplished mediocrity a little TOO much – look at Hollywood and the NYT Best Sellers List. Some find it hard to self-motivate when there are literally thousands doing the same thing.
    .-= Ailis´s last blog ..Excuse Me While I Pontificate =-.

  • Tami October 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    Which is still, at its heart, finding motivation EXTERNALLY. By comparing ourselves to others, we’re seeking some kind of external gratification for what we’re doing. If we perceive ourselves as ‘better’ than someone else, we are happy and keep going, but failing a comparison, we get discouraged.

    The trick is to find INTERNAL motivation, which is…ah…something I’m still working on. *coff*

    Hey, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it, right?

  • Ailis October 22, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Hah, we’re all still working on that one. When you figure it out, be a dear a let the rest of us know? =)
    .-= Ailis´s last blog ..Excuse Me While I Pontificate =-.