Priyanka could never say no to her colleagues. She wasn’t big on the ‘Friday night, party night’ concept. But since she didn’t want to fall out with her coworkers, she always agreed to go with them.

We’ve all experienced some form of societal pressure. Be it from our parents to pursue a conventional career to peer pressure. These factors motivate us to do something we may not be too keen on. For instance, studying mathematics when you want to become a classical musician or working overtime so as not to make a bad impression at work.

In Priyanka’s case, her motivation to spend time with her coworkers outside of work was external. This is known as extrinsic motivation.

Explore how extrinsic motivation controls our actions and behaviors more than we anticipate.

  1. Let’s Define Extrinsic Motivation!

  2. How External Motivation Impacts Your Life

  3. Examples Of Extrinsic Motivation

  4. Develop Self-Awareness To Identify Your Motivations

Let’s Define Extrinsic Motivation!

The meaning of extrinsic motivation is to be inspired to take action because of external forces—rewards, appreciation or praise and social acceptance.

If you work on weekends because you want to be in your manager’s good books, you’re motivated by external factors. Instead, if you work long hours because you genuinely enjoy your work, it’s a reflection of strong intrinsic motivation—motivation driven by internal factors like personal interest.

Extrinsic motivation means that you’re performing a task because you’ll gain something from it—the task itself may not be interesting to you or even rewarding.

How External Motivation Impacts Your Life

External motivation factors like a raise at work, money, fame, appreciation or even a promotion drive us to perform well but only for a limited period of time. There are both advantages and disadvantages to external motivation.


External motivation helps us in many spheres of life such as relationships, work and health. If you’re a shy person, an external motivation factor like making new friends can push you to attend social events. At work, external motivation like employee rewards may encourage you to take initiative.

Here are the advantages of extrinsic motivation:

  • It wills us to perform and make an effort to complete our work on time

  • It helps us stay focused, motivated and confident about our tasks

  • It can push us to keep going when we’re feeling discouraged—like a cheat meal when you’re on a strict diet

  • It can help us step out of our comfort zone to gain something like building new relationships

  • It encourages us to envision our goals and work for them


As the saying goes, “Too much a good thing…”, extrinsic motivation is only effective in moderation. If employees are motivated solely by rewards and benefits, they’ll likely lose interest in their work in the absence of these rewards.

Here are the disadvantages of extrinsic motivation:

  • It can make us lose interest in our hobbies because we hope to gain something in return

  • It affects our internal motivation as we tend to move toward external factors to feel satisfied

  • It can make us burn out at work because we’re no longer seeking joy in what we do

  • It can steer us off track as we’re not sure whether we’re performing a task because we have to or want to

  • It can make us competitive—in an unhealthy way—as we continue to seek validation for our actions

Examples Of Extrinsic Motivation

In today’s dynamic world, you’ll find many apparent examples of extrinsic motivation—from learning something new or building a social media presence. We see others living their best lives on our mobile phones and want to mimic their lifestyle.

It’s said that you shouldn’t turn your hobby into your profession as you’re likely to weigh your actions in terms of the rewards you receive for them. For instance, if you’re a reader and start working in publishing. You may soon find yourself being averse to reading outside of work.

But external motivation also helps us in various ways. We’re motivated to build a professional network, perform well at work and learn more to achieve better results.

Develop Self-Awareness To Identify Your Motivations

Knowing your motivation will help you make better decisions at work and in life. Harappa’s Interpreting Self course will teach you how to build self-awareness, identify your strengths and set goals. Frameworks such as the River of Life help you reflect on your experiences to understand what drives you to pursue your goals. Striking a balance between internal and external motivation can help you in your career journey!

Explore topics such as What is Self-Motivation, How to Develop Self-Awareness, How to Improve Self-Management, What is Intrinsic Motivation & Guide to Personal SWOT Analysis from Harappa Diaries to become the best version of yourself.

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