31 Intrinsic Motivation Examples (What Is Your Preferred Motivator?)

Intrinsic Motivation Examples

intrinsic motivation examples

Sometimes in life, we need much more than simply external forces of motivation. I feel that external sources are helpful and can play a big part in getting you going. But there has to be something much deeper in order to realized and actualize the success and results that our hearts desire.

It all comes down to really identifying these sources of intrinsic motivation in order to really see them and nurture them. As we may have incredible drive. But that drive is simply the kindling that starts the fire. Intrinsic motivation is the logs that we add to the already burning kindling. To keep the fire blazing and more and more intense. It makes us more intense about our goals. And starts and keeps going, a burning fire of desire within us. That can recharge us when our batteries are low. Or we have been hammering on projects or goals. But don’t seem to be making too much headway.

Intrinsic motivation can be that beacon of hope for us. To give us the willpower to keep going during these times. And ultimately the reasons we do get to the other side of things in life that seemed, at times, to big for us to ever take down.

It is similar to the saying that willpower will only take you so far, but WHY power will take you all the way.

Below are 31 intrinsic motivation examples that can provide you with that fuel to keep your fire burning big and bright. To be your WHY for moving forward and achieving all you want in this life.

Which as you may notice, all the examples tie in together in a way. They are all sort of family members. Directly connected. To which once you really find and nurture one or more of these examples, the more the other show up in support of your ultimate efforts.

31 Examples of Intrinsic Motivation 

Family/Loved Ones 

I think this is the biggest one for almost anyone who has ever reached a high level of success in life. They are pushing forward towards their goals in dreams because they want to take care of family members or friends. Maybe it is in a financial way. Where they want to give a spouse a beautiful life. Or they want their kids to have all that they never did growing up. Or simply the want their family to be proud of them for reaching a high level of success.

Regardless of the big reason someone is doing something for family. This fact is evident. It is a powerful form of intrinsic motivation. That can help one really have all that it takes to reach their goals and dreams.


This is one of the top 6 human needs we all need to fulfill.

It comes in a form of making one feel like they matter. That they have a lot to offer. That they are a good contribution to society. That they have value.

We all want to be seen in the eyes of others as someone who has significant talents and abilities. Something that we do damn good in this life. That we become known for as we are so great at it.

And this is a form of intrinsic motivation that is deeply ingrained in us. Which, as Tony Robbins say, we all find ways to feel significant.

Some people do it in a way to where they want to have the tallest building in town. Which one person does so by building the tallest building in town. And the other does so by tearing all the other buildings down.

The main thing to have this intrinsic motivator be a lasting source is to find something positive that makes us feel significant.

It can be as simple as being the hardest worker in the room. Or caring for your children more than any other parent on the earth. Both do not really have any negative side effects to you or others around you. They simply make you feel significant by engaging in these acts. Making you want to repeat these acts over and over. Only building more of what is already making you feel significant in your life.

Once you find it. It can be a great intrinsic motivator.

Reaching One’s Full Potential (Knowledge)

There is something awesome about tapping into your potential. You find and see a little bit of it. And then, the question becomes “How far can I go?”. Or “How great can I become.” This is a positive form of intrinsic motivation because you are literally wanting to display your talent to the world. The gifts you came into this world with. You want to reveal, more and more, what has maybe been hidden or only partially exposed.


We all want to be remembered. In a positive light. That we came, we saw, we conquered in a sense. That we were beneficial to the human race. But we want to leave this behind when we leave. As we can’t live forever. But maybe our legacy can. One of the greatest legacies ever were the teachings of Jesus Christ. In which he only taught for 3 years. But his teachings live on thousands of years later.

We want to leave behind something for the next generation. This can be for our family in a sense of making sure they have enough money to live on or never have to work again. Or something like Steve Jobs where he wants to impact billions of people with his products. In which they will just keep evolving even after he died.

Leaving a legacy is a great form of intrinsic motivation as if can help you keep pushing in order to leave the biggest legacy possible. This one can be a little more egotistical in a sense, compared to some of the other examples of intrinsic motivators on our list. But that doesn’t really matter as it is a powerful force that can keep you motivated to life life with passion and energy. And use passion and energy to achieve high levels of success and significance.

Accomplishments, Accolades & Awards

Everyone loves to be recognized for their work. One of the great forms of recognition is to be awarded praise by ones own colleagues. This can be in the form of a realtor be recognized as salesman of the year. Or one being published on the New York Times Best Sellers list. IT is a way of standing out in the eyes of your peers and in the public eye.

But like anything, the great feeling of getting an award doesn’t last forever. But getting the next award or repeating the same big feat again the year after, can offer one more intrinsic motivation to keep going. To win over and over. Which can, in turn, add to leaving one’s legacy.


This is an intrinsic motivator seen in the workplace a lot but also in real life. This example can range from one feeling a sense of responsibility for the team. As they have just been promoted to manager or supervisor. They have a new sense of responsibility outside of themselves. As they had when they were simply just an employee or someone responsible for only their output and numbers they hit.

But it can also come in the form of one feeling responsible for a new child that they have. They have a responsibility to give that child a great life. For they feel that they brought him or her into the world. Now it is their responsibility to be the best parent they can be.

Feeling a sense of higher than normal responsibility can give one a big enough reason to become more motivated.


This is also one of the biggest forms on intrinsic motivation. As this one here literally equates to happiness. When we are progressing, we feel happier about our existence. We are either growing or dying. There really is no in between. So even at times when we take on a bigger role at work. And many not even be getting paid much more. We still feel that we are progressing. And that feels great.

It gives us a grass is greener on the other side feeling. But that we are easily able to jump to that other side. And leave the dying grass behind. That we are making headway in our life. Working towards a better and more prosperous and happy future.


Enjoying something can add an extra powerful dynamic to your internal motivation. It makes you feel energized and captivated by tasks. It is often found in people who are engaging in their passion. They work tirelessly on projects. Because they enjoy it so much, it doesn’t take a lot of energy out of them. It actually works entirely opposite. They draw energy from it. That is why they can work countless hours in a row on it.

At very least, finding enjoyment in something makes one feel as if they aren’t wasting their time. Which time is a resource we only have so much of. So when we find enjoyment is something, we are feeling as if we are spending our limited resource wisely. And that feels good and progressive.


It is said that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at something. I believe it can take a either a shorter amount of time or even longer. But regardless, wanting to exert mastery over your craft can serve an an excellent form of intrinsic motivation.

Because of the fact that it feels great to be good at something. It goes back to only having so much time to use in this life. And when we find something we want to devote enough time to for mastery, we have found something that can keep up heavily motivated.

This usually happens when someone finds the reason they are here on this earth. In which they want to devote most or all their waking hours toward seeing how much mastery they can really attain. Which can ultimately tie in with leaving a big legacy.


One of the biggest spiritual needs that we feel so great fulfilling is giving back in some way. Either giving your time or money. Or both. But when we are contributing, we feel get larger vision of ourselves. We feel as if we are literally changing the lives of others for the better. That because of us, someone will live better. Sleep better. Feel better. And be better.

It is someone that can cause a chain reaction in a sense. We give to someone else. And because of that, the person feels a debt that needs to be repaid. In the most positive sense. In which the person, when they are able, lends a helping hand to someone else in need.

It can also be the feeling of creating a product that is going to help with the betterment of society. This is when people combine their passions with their paychecks. In which the more they contribute, the more people are impacted. The more they are paid.

Regardless, this form on intrinsic motivation can give one a lot of energy and make one feel great and motivated to keep up with positive acts.

To Be Loved

This can come from doing something to be adorned by the love of family. Or of the public. Or by their peers. People are motivated to feel that they are loved or desired. This is a big form of motivation that we are all driven by at some point in our lives.

Simply put, it feels good to know that we are loved and worthy of being loved.


Fear can be a great intrinsic motivator. Don’t believe me? Well let me share with you a little scenario to prove my point. Say you are in a pinch for money. You know you are going to be out on the streets if you don’t come up with money to pay your landlord. You find yourself in a state of fear. But you, being the persistent and persevering person that you are, starts to think of ways you can pay rent. Ways to make money over and above what you are making at your job. Maybe you hop on Craigslist and do a couple of odd jobs in your niche. Or you have a garage sale. Or sell things on Ebay.

Fear can be so motivating for one to worry that they are not going to be great at something. They are so scared of the negative consequences so they take, over and above, actions to make sure that they reach high levels of greatness.

Like CEO of Interscope records Jimmy Iovine says,

“Fear, fears a powerful thing. I mean it’s got a lot of firepower. If you can figure out a way to wrestle that fear to push you from behind, rather than to stand in front of you, that’s very powerful.” – Jimmy Iovine


For some, pride can be something one has for their country. Like in the Olympics. Or it can be the pride of their own. To wear they want to save face and do well in life. Or not look dumb so they study all night and allow themselves to make good grades because of it.

Pride doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I don’t think it goes before the fall. As some may believe. It think that, like anything else, if there is positive motivation behind it, then we can use it to create positivity from it.

Sure, out of all of our intrinsic motivators on our list, this one may be the one in which is the least positive. But pride can still be a great intrinsic motivator.


One can be driven to do things in life that bring them more peace and tranquility. These calm souls often will go to big measures to find the peace they want to have in their life. It can be a great motivator if one has to chaotic of a life as well. So that they have a new internal motivator to create more peace in their life.

The Need For Variety 

When things become too monotonous one can find themselves being extremely bored with their life. This can cause one to want to switch things up. Maybe they really start checking of their bucket list. Or starting off on the road to entrepreneurship. Really creating a lot of variety and uncertainty into their life. Or simply making a big career change.

The fact of the matter is, that when things stay the same for too long, many don’t like it. That is because we are evolving beings. And we feel good when our minds and bodies are stimulated. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that everyone has this as their internal motivator. But I, like many others, have this need and have had it at many different times in my life.


Growth is a super powerful intrinsic motivator. The need to expand. Leave mediocrity at the door. Venture into the unknown. Into uncharted waters. That is why the gym can be so addicting to people. They see their bodies growing. But their mind also grows. Literally it is creating feel good hormones at a much more efficient way. So their minds are more positive. In turn, they think about themselves and other and simply life more positively.


So as I said above, VARIETY is a big human need and intrinsic motivator on our list and in the lives of many. But one cannot simply want tor have variety constantly. There is a deep need for security ingrained in the human spirit. A desire for one to feel safe and sure. For no one wants to die.

So we feel as if we can stay safe and in a secure state, we can avoid the inevitable. I say this a partial truth. But at the end of the day, it is nice to know that money is coming in. That there is going to be food on the table at each meal. And that the future is safe because one has saved money for it and planned for it.

Many people that place heavy priority on security are ones who like to stay employed for the same company for a long time. Or for their whole career.

There is nothing bad about this at all. It is just someone who places heavy significance on their security coming in the form of a bi-monthly check.

Whereas someone else may see creating their own business and scaling it to high levels as their way to create security. Both now and in the future.

Either way, we all seek security in some way, shape or form. Even one who doesn’t want to leave a really bad relationship. They don’t want to leave because they see that they will feel more safe than venturing out into the unknown to seek new love. Or simply to be alone. So they stick around. (Been there!)


Often times passion is huge driving force in ones life. It is seen when someone leaves a secure job to pursue a singing career. And whether they make it big for not, their passion drives them. They put passion over security. And passion over paycheck. For some odd reason, when one does pursue their passion, they end up getting paid a lot more than they would if they just stuck around for a paycheck!


We all have the buddy who jumps off the cliff into the water first. Who does the first back flip on a trampoline. Who is the first to get the speeding ticket for going over 100!

We as humans often times are motivated to see life is a in a way that leaves us satisfied. That we evaded death in a sense. Or at least seen a lot more and have done a lot more than we would if we would have just sat at home and played it safe!


I put this one in as at certain points in life, one can be so angry about what is happening that the drastically change their life because of it. Or want to do so. Which sparks action. Getting angry and disgusted because of your place in life can really cause an upheaval to your entire life.

At one time, I was sick of not being healthy. Not mastering my health. I wasn’t necessarily out of shape. But I wasn’t as fit and healthy as I could be. I got pissed off with how non-committed I was to health. I was mad about how food was ruling me. Not the other way around. And then I changed.

I don’t think that anger should be a constant intrinsic motivator. Because I think it is an emotion that simply doesn’t vibrate as high as things like courage. But I think it can definitely have it’s time and place to aid in positive change in one’s life.


You can’t really have anything if you don’t have the desire for it. I mean things can come to you by accident or pure happenstance. But the fact of the matter is that one cannot create a great life without desiring it first. One cannot really get married if they don’t desire to do so. At least it is less likely to happen. I truly believe that what you are seeking is also seeking you. What you give out to the universe must come back. And this all starts with desire. Desire to create a new life for yourself. A desire to become financially independent. A desire to love more and be loved more.

And the more you desire things, the more you are thinking about them. And due to our Reticular Activating System (RAS) in our brain we naturally start attracting things that are related to what we desire.

We have all wanted a new car. And then suddenly everyone and their mom has or wants that same car and color of the model we want. EVERYWHERE! This is what happens when we desire something deeply. The RAS kicks in hard!

Curiousity & Knowledge

This one can go hand in hand with curiousity. We are driven by the need to learn more about something. To peek behind the curtain. And make ourselves familiar with a subject. This is often seen as ones intrinsic motivator when one starts studying an entirely different subject after going to school for something they didn’t really want to go to school for.

They like the subject or know a bit about it. Then something grows in side them. The desire to grow this knowledge base and learn as much as you can. Or maybe it is purely for fascinations purposes. Maybe you aren’t scholastically driven. And don’t even want to make a career or money with it. But maybe you take other courses in art in order to channel your artistic side one your off days from work. Where you paint pictures or create sculptures.


This one may be the most obvious of them all. We all do most things because we find some sort of pleasure in it. Either directly or indirectly. We fell as if we will get pleasure by going bowling and engaging in fun times with friends. Or even something like hating our job. But we know that if we work all week, we will have enough money to go out and enjoy the weekend. We work the job so that we can earn that pleasure.

It can also be something that goes hand in hand with pain. Which is what we get into on our next intrinsic motivator.


So everything has a polarity to it. Pain is the polar opposite of pleasure. We do pretty much anything in our lives to get pleasure or avoid pain. But pain can serve as a great intrinsic motivator because it can push us away from the thing that is causing us pain.

Maybe one is flat broke because they have never gotten the training needed to go into a high paying career. And one day that just get entirely fed up with being broke. It has been painful in the past. It is painful in the present. And it will be painful in the future if they don’t do something about it.

So pain pushes them to get the education they need in order to create a better life for themselves.

The see the pain being to bad and because of this, go towards the direction of creating a lifetime that offers more pleasure then it does pain. Hence, how the two go tightly hand in hand. Pretty much throughout our whole entire lives.

This can even be seen when one channels their pain through music, poetry or journaling. It is a good enough intrinsic motivator to get out of pain to the other side of pleasure. Or at least contentment. Hence people artistically express themselves out of the state of pain that they are in.


The feeling of doing what is right. Regardless of how one is treated because of it. This is seen in the most extreme case of Rosa Parks standing up for what is right. And creating a better world because of it. Or it can be someone doing the right thing in order to help them sleep at night. Because if they don’t do the right thing, it will eat them up. So they see it better to do the right thing instead of taking the easy road out.

It can also be an internal motivator for people who march for a cause. That they believe that if the rules would be overturned about the things they oppose, they can serve justice. And make the world a more fair place.


If we feel that we are in control, we feel good about our lives. It is like if we are driving in rainy weather. We feel out of control. We feel as if we may crash. Or even die because of the stormy conditions and iffy driving weather. But then it stops raining. The roads dry up and we feel the we are gripping the road better with our tread. Our visibility is better. We can see other drivers better.

This is how control works in our lives. We seeks to control our situations so that we don’t feel out of control. We want to feel a sense of homeostasis. That we are steady in a sense. Not rocking the boat too much. Control equates to security. Which I expanded upon above.


This one is often seen in younger people who do things in which they get accepted because of it. One who feels that they don’t fit in starts smoking cigarettes at party because if makes them feel more connected to the cool group. Or someone starts being funny in class because they feel that people like funny people. And making people laugh makes the person feel as if he is approved of.

This is another form of feeling safe and secure. When we aren’t liked, we feel unsafe. We feel a sense of insecurity and our livelihood is threatened.

When we get approval, we feel more safe. As people age though, they start working on themselves more and accepting themselves. And the pendulum swings. They start liking themselves a lot more. In which in turn, the world likes them more. As how we see ourselves is how others see us.


Power is a big intrinsic motivator. The feeling of attaining power makes one feel very in charge or life. It makes them feel invincible in a sense. Which in my opinion, it is the false illusion that we have to face death. If we have enough power, we can evade the inevitable.

Power doesn’t have to be a negative thing. It can bring about a position in life where one can give a lot more to the community, family and world at large. Of course, like anything else, it can be bad. Especially in the pursuit of it. Which can be a negative intrinsic motivator if one becomes consumed by the need to gain more and more power.


We all desire to be free in some way, shape or form. This can be seen in young adults who rebel against their parents. Who, to them, are trying to limit their freedom. Impose rules on them that is counteractive of making them feel in control and free.

It can also be seen of one who gets tired of working for a boss. They see starting their own business as a way out. A way to offer more freedom. Time freedom, financial freedom and freedom to create their own schedule and not have to answer to anyone.

It can also be seen as something that the elderly want as well. In which the family feels that one should be put in a home because they are forgetting things or showing signs of needing help. But the elderly person feels no need for this. Doesn’t see the purpose in it. And wants nothing to do with the idea.

They see it as someone trying to take away their freedom. Which when someone does this to another, they feel directly violated. Whether it is for their own good or not. In which the person again rebels and sees the person or party that is trying to limit their freedom as the enemy.

As we can see, freedom and the desire for it is a great intrinsic motivator in all of us. From the time we are born to our last years on this earth.

Conclusion To Intrinsic Motivators Examples

So there we are my friends. The top 31 intrinsic motivators. Things that create a desire in us to take some sort of action. React a certain way. As well as be driven to create change in our life for the better.

I hope you enjoyed the article and had some good takeaways from it. I would love to hear which one you resonate with the most. What intrinsic motivator drives you the most in your life?

As well as if you have any good intrinsic motivators examples to add. Let’s chat in the comment section below!


Talk soon,


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