Intrinsic Motivation Sucks

By , 8 April 2014

Intrinsic Motivation Sucks
Intrinsic Motivation Sucks

I can write software. In fact, I'm very good at it. But there's a catch.

I won't do it for money.

Why not?

Well basically I feel deep dissatisfaction when I give my creative work away. Especially if it goes to a sinister money grabbing corporation.

When I look back on the jobs I have had in the past, it is the menial ones that have give me most satisfaction. I worked on a trawler when I was 18. It's a job that mostly involved sorting fish. I worked in a bar when I was 19. a job that mostly involved collecting glasses. I cleaned dishes when I was in university, and actually it was kind of fun.

Psychologists have recognised this as a common phenomena since the 80s. It is all a matter of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. As it turns out, extrinsic rewards inhibit creative work but facilitate simple tasks.

Intrinsic Motivation Sucks

As kids we had an intuitive idea of intrinsic motivation. If we wanted our younger brother to get something from upstairs, we wouldn't say "Hey, I'll give you a lollipop if you go grab my stuff", we'd say "Hey, how fast do you think you can get my stuff? I'll time you." Worked every time.

But intrinsic motivation is costing me money. I invest all my time in studying, traveling, writing, surfing and playing music. It makes me very happy, but none of this pays the bills.

I see my friends who have worked their 9-5 over the last four years while I've invested most of my time traveling, studying languages and trying to understand the world. They all now have nice cars and big houses. What do you imagine I feel when I visit them?

Well, I feel ... absolutely nothing.

I ride in their new cars, I eat with them in their comfortable suburban houses and listen to them agonize over which set of golf clubs to buy. And how do I feel?

Completely indifferent.

None of that shit interests me at all. I wish it did, I really do. I know wealth is important to women (whether they are aware of this or not) but all that happens when I see the wealth around me is I get an urge to study more economics.

Go figure.

Status thriving is supposed to be an adaptation in men. I got curiosity instead.

So fuck you intrinsic motivation... Fuck you.

[ Postscript: Since I wrote this, I have solved this problem. ]

About Roger Keays

Intrinsic Motivation Sucks

Roger Keays is an artist, an engineer, and a student of life. He has no fixed address and has left footprints on 40-something different countries around the world. Roger is addicted to surfing. His other interests are music, psychology, languages, the proper use of semicolons, and finding good food.

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Comment posted by: yea, 6 years ago

Nice read.