I have already shared the idea that that in order to be as productive as possible what you need first and above all, is to be in a pleasant state of mind, because in that state you are able to tap into your full potential and perform optimally. Mass amounts of research indicate clearly that we perform at our best when we are feeling great.
In this post I will build further on that idea and I will discuss about extrinsic and intrinsic goals. This is a concept I found on Edward Deci’s book called “Why we do what we do” and it’s extremely useful in terms of productivity and in terms of your health because – I repeat – you must never forget that if you are not as healthy as possible you won’t be able to perform at your best no matter the strategy, method or tactic you’re following.
So how we define extrinsic goals? Extrinsic goals are all those goals promoted massively by the modern media, meaning the desire to be amazingly wealthy, tremendously famous and extremely hot and beautiful. These are the three extrinsic goals and unfortunately this is exactly what modern society basically promotes. The unfortunate thing is that again research shows that people who focused on extrinsic goals than in intrinsic ones, are – to put it simply – more likely to have poor mental health, and this is a finding which is totally irrelevant to the belief and confidence someone shows that she will achieve the extrinsic goals! Ouch! That last phrase hurt me.
On the other hand, as intrinsic goals are described the following three:
- Meaningful Relationships
- Personal Growth
- Community Contribution
Strong aspiration of any of the intrinsic goals is positively associated with well being. As Deci says, when people focus on intrinsic goals, they seem more content—they feel better about who they are and they display more evidence of psychological health. Add to this a 75 year study from Harvard University – aka The Grant Study – where scientists were looking what leads to good life. What they found after 75 years of testing and studying the subjects, was that the most important aspect of a good life is personal relationships, period. Good personal relationships are good for our health, for our happiness and for the effectiveness of our brains in the long run. You can watch a video about the Grant Study here, or you can read a book about it here.
So the question I am trying to make with this post is where are you focusing? Are you fascinated with fame, wealth and beauty or are you more into building great human relationships and contributing to your community? Are you extrinsic or intrinsic focused?
Be aware of the possibility that you are beginning with an intrinsic goal, but on time you convert that to an extrinsic one; For example you might say that you want to contribute to your community and appearing to Oprah would be extremely helpful. OOOOps! We have an extrinsic goal costumed as an intrinsic one. Being on Oprah definitely would be helpful but focusing on that goal will make you less psychologically stable and happy which means less productive as you won’t be in a state of pleasantness which could be defined as the optimal performing state. If you want to contribute do it and focus on keep doing it without thinking of anything else. Most times if you focus on the intrinsic the extrinsic take care of itself the most appropriate way.
All my best,