4 Types of External Motivation That Can Help Create Internal Drive

Posted on November 02, 2020

Ryan Stewman



If you have ever been in a slump, you know how difficult it can be to get back on top. Sometimes doing it on your own just doesn’t cut it. At times, we need the proverbial “kick in the pants” to get us back on track and help us stay accountable.

Take a minute to think about a typical day. There are micro decisions that have an impact on the outcome of your day. These little decisions over time eventually lead you closer to, or further from your main objective in both life and business.

Let’s discuss one example of how this works. Bob is a successful entrepreneur who has spent so much time working on his business, that he has neglected his health. His weight has gotten a bit out of control, and he hasn’t been eating right or exercising every day like he should.

He has decided to do something about this and he has a couple options. He can try to do it himself through internal drive and sheer willpower, or he can hire a trainer or coach to incorporate a bit of external motivation into his routine.

Bob knows that he can probably get back on track on his own eventually if he really puts his mind to it. However, with a little external motivation from a trainer with some kind of accountability, he is going to have a greater likelihood of reaching his goals much quicker, with less chance of yielding to the force of average and falling back into his typical unhealthy habits.

Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation

Let’s look at the difference between extrinsic (external) motivation vs. intrinsic (internal) motivation. When we are intrinsically motivated by something, we are driven by a certain passion and desire that exists within to push you toward certain behaviors that naturally lead you closer to your main objective.

For example, Bob loves what he does as a coach in business. He loves working with his clients and helping them achieve their goals. He needs no outside motivation pushing him to do the work, because he genuinely finds joy and fulfillment in it.

As a result of him putting in the consistent daily work, he has a constant stream of clients who want to work with him. His intrinsic motivation ultimately pushes him to put in consistent daily action that naturally leads to his obtaining more clients and obviously, more money. That’s why it’s paramount to truly find a career that you are passionate about because as the old saying goes, if you love what you do, you will never “work” a day in your life.

Now, let’s look at the other side of the coin. Bob does not enjoy eating healthy, working out and staying in shape. This is not something he looks forward to. He has never been in top physical condition, so he doesn’t really know what it feels like to be there. He finds it difficult to get excited about limiting his calories and sweating it out every day in the gym. It feels more like a chore to him.

Until Bob experiences the intrinsic desire and motivation to inspire him to move into physical action to get him closer to his health goals, he will probably always struggle to get the kind of results like those he has gotten in his business.

Maybe your situation is the opposite of Bob’s. Maybe health and fitness is your passion, and you would much rather spend 2 hours at the gym than making coaching calls or generating sales.

Wherever you are, you can see that we all have certain passions that motivate our behaviors one way or the other.


Take a minute to think of yours, and be realistic about where you could use a little help.

What are you passionate about? What do you love spending time on? On the other hand, which areas in your life do you dread and wish you could avoid altogether if you had a choice.

Right now, Bob realizes that his intrinsic motivation for health and fitness just isn’t strong enough to get him where he wants to be just yet. He knows that he will be better off getting an outside coach to help motivate him to move closer to his objective of losing 30 pounds and getting in shape.

This goes for anything you want to improve. Even though Bob is successful in his business, he can still gain immense value from someone that is where he wants to be, so Bob would be wise to hire a business coach if he wants to level up even more.

A Coach or mentor often will incorporate some form of external motivation into their program that can give you an extra push towards achieving your ultimate desires. External motivation can be a powerful force in getting you to take certain action.

This is something you have experienced since you were a little kid. We learn pretty quickly as kids what gets us punished and what gets us rewarded. Sometimes our parents have to force certain rules on us at first, until certain behaviors become ingrained in us.

I have the perfect example of this from when I was a kid. I started taking piano lessons at the age of 7. I was excited about it at first, but then it got boring and monotonous and I didn’t want to practice. But, my parents had created a rule that required that I practice one hour a day before I could do anything else. No friends. No TV. Nothing.

So, what happened is for the next three years, I practiced every single day for an hour a day, and you know what? I started getting pretty good at it. My increased skill made me begin to enjoy it, which in turn, made me want to improve. By the age of 10, that extrinsic motivation forced upon me by my parents transformed into an intrinsic desire to be an amazing pianist.

No longer did they have to force me to practice an hour a day. I was actually fighting my other sister over piano time so that I could practice 3 to 5 hours a day. I became passionate about it and couldn’t get enough. I wanted to compete and be “better” than my sister and the other kids at my piano studio.

So, if you are finding yourself stuck in a hamster wheel going nowhere, maybe you need to find a way to get some kind of external motivation to push you back in the right direction towards your goals.

Here are four types of external motivation that can be very effective in getting you back on track: Accountability, Monetary, Punitive and Incentivized. These can be used independent of each other, or they can be combined in some way. Let’s look at each one a little closer:


Signing up with an accountability group or accountability partner is sometimes all you need to get the push you need to accomplish what you are looking to do. Maybe you can get a friend to come to the gym with you, or follow up with an accountability partner so you can set goals together to move the needle in your business.

This is a low level of external motivation because it doesn’t require a ton of risk. It’s just a mutual agreement between two or more people to keep each other accountable. When it really starts to get powerful is when you combine accountability with some of the other options below.


With a monetary external motivation, you must invest something financially upfront in order to participate. Whether you are hiring a coach or trainer, or joining an accountability group that requires you to put money in, the monetary investment acts as an insurance policy to encourage you to take action because you have “skin in the game.” The higher the investment, the greater your attention, and the more likelihood of success.

Many coaching programs have different levels of investment to participate. For example, the Apex program has 3 different levels: Entourage, Executives and Entrepreneurs. Each level of Apex has a different investment level, and with each program, there are different levels of support and accountability.

In Bob’s situation, he needs a health coach/physical trainer. So, he can decide what level of monetary commitment he wants to invest in order to get the results he wants. The local Gold’s gym lets you choose either a basic membership, team training or personal training. That upfront investment in itself adds a reason to keep you motivated because you want to make sure that investment brings on the desired result.


Another form of external motivation comes from punitive action against you if you don’t complete certain steps or if you quit. This tends to add a deeper level of motivation by instilling some sort of fear of repercussion for not doing what needs to be done to reach your goals.

There are ways you can do this for yourself, to help you break a bad habit, such as putting money in a jar every time you fail to work out or each junk food. Make it a large enough amount that it hurts every time. And then after a month, you have to donate that money to a cause that you hate.

For example, you have to go donate that cash to a political candidate you oppose or something like that. If you know you have to give your hard-earned money to a cause you hate, this is part of the punitive nature that can drive you to stay on track.

There are some coaches that include punitive actions as part of their programs. For example, I hired a weight loss coach that I paid $400 to join her program. That was the monetary part of the external motivation. But she also added several punitive actions to it as well that brought a level of “fear” that I’d get kicked out of the group and lose the $400 I invested if I didn’t complete the necessary required actions laid out for us.

Morning and night, we were required to post a picture of the scale, and we were supposed to post what workouts we did, as well as refeed meals and accountability pictures after 2 or 3 days of fasting. You basically were allowed 3 strikes, and if you failed to follow through, you could be kicked out of the group. She also enforced that there was no complaining or negative talk throughout the 4-week program.

When I started in the group, there were nearly 30 women, but by the end of the 4 weeks, more than half had been removed for non-compliance or they had quit for one reason or another. Though this is a fear-based tactic, it can get amazing results.

I lost 16 pounds in 4 weeks, and some of the ladies lost over 30 pounds in 4 weeks. I wasn’t even as strict as I should have been, but it was nuts to see how powerful that extrinsic motivation could be to help push people beyond their normal limits.


The final external motivation I want to discuss involves rewards and incentives. Whether it is a cash prize, or a plaque or trophy, or just some kind of recognition, this can help motivate you to take the necessary actions to get where you want to be.

Probably all of you have seen the Two Comma Club Awards, or dream cars, etc. Some people are highly motivated by the promise of some reward at the end of a certain accomplishment. Many sales organizations find incentive programs very effective in getting higher performance out of the sales team.

What is Your Why

Here’s the reality. Extrinsic motivators are only temporary. They are not a long-term fix. It’s a short-term solution to create a pattern that can eventually transform external motivation into innate desire. You really need to determine what drives you and find the right way to move yourself in that direction, whether it’s through one of these external options mentioned here, or whether you just decide to push yourself the best you can.

The ultimate goal is to take all of these ideas, and see which ones motivate you the most so that you can utilize them most effectively for not only yourself, but for the people you manage or coach as well. Once you develop that intrinsic motivation to do whatever it is you want to accomplish, you’ll be unstoppable.

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