Finding Happiness: The Power of Intrinsic Goals over Extrinsic Goals

Finding Happiness: The Power of Intrinsic Goals over Extrinsic Goals
November 8, 2023 Linda Murray

In our pursuit of happiness, well-being and whatever we consider our success to be, we often find ourselves driven by various goals and aspirations. Some goals come from deep within us, stemming from personal values and passions, while others are influenced by external factors like rewards and recognition. 

These two types of motivation are known as intrinsic and extrinsic goals, and both play a significant role in our overall happiness, sustainable peak performance and mental health. In this article, I delve into the dynamics of intrinsic versus extrinsic goals and the profound impact that prioritising intrinsic objectives can have on enhancing your overall happiness and life satisfaction.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Goals

Intrinsic goals are those that originate from within ourselves. They are rooted in personal values, passions, and the desire for personal growth and self-improvement. These goals are not necessarily tied to external rewards or validation but are pursued for their inherent value. In contrast, extrinsic goals are driven by external factors such as material success, fame, and the desire for recognition or approval from others.

The Happiness Paradox:

Research has consistently shown that people tend to experience greater happiness and well-being when they focus on intrinsic goals rather than extrinsic ones. The pursuit of intrinsic goals aligns with our core values and provides a sense of purpose and fulfilment. On the other hand, the pursuit of extrinsic goals can often lead to stress, anxiety, and poorer mental health.

Intrinsic Goals and Well-being:

Personal Growth: When individuals set goals related to personal growth, such as self-improvement, learning, and skill development, they experience a deeper sense of satisfaction and well-being. This is because these goals tap into their innate desires for self-fulfilment.

Meaningful Relationships: Building and nurturing meaningful relationships with friends and family is a fundamental intrinsic goal. Such relationships contribute significantly to our overall happiness and emotional well-being.

Extrinsic Goals and Their Pitfalls:

Material Success: The relentless pursuit of material wealth and possessions can lead to stress and anxiety, as it often involves constant comparisons with others and a never-ending hunger for more.

Fame and Recognition: Seeking fame and external validation can result in feelings of emptiness and insecurity, as it places one’s self-worth in the hands of others’ opinions and judgments.

Balancing Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation:

It’s essential to acknowledge that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations have their roles to play in our lives. Effective goals often tap into both types of motivation. While intrinsic goals should be prioritised for lasting happiness and well-being, extrinsic goals can serve as valuable stepping stones or rewards along the way. Striking a balance between the two can help individuals stay motivated and focused on their personal growth while enjoying external rewards as a bonus.

As you begin to start thinking about your goals and plans for 2024, it’s crucial to recognise the power of intrinsic goals over extrinsic ones. Focusing on personal growth, meaningful relationships, and values-driven aspirations can lead to a happier and more fulfilling life. By understanding the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and finding the right balance, you can be sure to navigate your journey towards a more content and satisfying life. If personal growth is something you would like to achieve, let’s chat! Executive Coaching, Leadership Programs and Workshop spaces are now available for 2024. 

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