The Power of Intrinsic Motivation

by | Feb 25, 2020 | Personal Growth

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Have you ever looked at a big goal, a big dream, something you want to heal or learn, and found yourself bailing before you even start?

For example, I started writing these weekly Tuesday reflections about 4 years ago.

I was going through “stuff” and needed a way to think out loud, never imagining that I would still be writing regularly 4 years later.

Back then, if I had told myself that I “had to” write every week for 4 years, I would never have started.

Why? Because I have a tendency to overdo things.

  • If I am going to workout, I have to make it count – and go longer than is probably good for me.

  • If I am going to read a book, I want to read the whole thing in one sitting – even if that means that for 6 hours nothing else gets done.

  • When I set goals, they involve transforming humanity on the planet – not just being nice to the cashier who is having a bad day.

The net effect of this kind of driving and striving is that I end up avoiding many things that are important to me, because they just feel too big and heavy.

I end up exhausted when I am reaching for external goals, standards and benchmarks.

Telling myself I have to write a weekly blog for 4 years straight?
No frickin way. I’d instantly feel the pressure and demand of that, and balk big time.
I have high needs for freedom and choice.

However, as each week rolls around, and I think about whatever is “up” for me, and tell myself to just send out a quick story, and that it doesn’t have to be “good,” just real … well, I can do that over and over and over.

It’s a reminder to me of the power of following our needs in the present moment.

When I just focus on the next step in front of me, I can go much further than when I focus on how far I have to go.

Two things are key for me:

1. Staying present in the now
2. Trusting the motivation behind my intrinsic needs, rather than some idea or “should” that is driving me from behind or dragging me reluctantly into the future.

This isn’t easy for me.

I was taught to value self-discipline and willpower to the exclusion of following my needs.
I was taught to see my needs as inconvenient and indulgent.

But, when I reflect on how I live these days, I can see a lot has changed.

I believe in a conscious, loving life-force.
A life-energy guiding us, supporting us, moving through us, guiding us through our felt-sense and our universal human needs.

And, at least for me, learning to trust and follow the guidance of our needs, of this life-force within, and surrendering to the crazy, wild (completely counter-cultural) adventure of an inspired life, remains a daily practice that I find myself committing to, over and over again.

And, now, I’d also love to hear from you …

  • What daily practice do you commit to over and again?

  • What helps you stay in alignment with the life-force moving through you?


  1. Kelsy Kuehn

    I am so new at this, but I am eating and exercising mindfully. I am going 100% by how I feel. I recognize that eating is my go to stress relief so I recognize when I am emotionally ruffled and give myself some grace. I mindfully enjoy food and how I feel it relieve my stress. It is not a failing but a known successful strategy. Honoring that leaves me free to go about the day to day eating according to how my body feels instead of by habit or shame. I am really seeing that the key is simply noticing. I also take ownership by saying to myself frequently- this is My story, no one else’s. I can write it how I see fit. So freeing. Thanks for giving me space to write this.

  2. Lea

    I’ve been home recovering from a concussion. This means little screen time, tv, reading or stimulation of any kind. I find myself resting with my eyes closed and listening to my thoughts, writing stories in my head and having to listen to my body. I am forced to be in the moment because worrying about tomorrow hurts my brain. Remarkably, there have been moments of peace and relaxation. The universe in its great wisdom brings us what we need, perhaps just not how we would plan it.
    Lea U

  3. Lois

    I greet the divine before the sunrise and I will thank the universe for waking up and I thank the universe for allowing me to evolve with it today
    Then I meditate usually but of late I have not.
    I think the word is consistently with gratitude
    I greet the start of new day.

  4. Madhu Puri

    Hi Yvette,
    Thankyou for asking
    I Practice Yoga every morning. I am coming out of a time where I have found this really difficult and have spent mornings sleeping instead. I feel this in my day and my life when I don’t dedicate this time to myself and greet the day. Just this morning I realised my need is to be embodied and so I intuitively let my body go where it needed to go. SOOOO GOOD. Im looking forward to bringing more curiosity into my practice and revitalise my mornings and my practice.


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