I’ve been thinking a lot recently about goal setting and the different types of goals—especially since a flâneur is by definition without a set goal or aim. As a student, I spent time doing research on this topic and ultimately published a dissertation related to intrinsic and extrinsic goals.
Before we kick things off, let’s break down the difference between intrinsic vs extrinsic goals:
Intrinsic goals are driven by internal motivations, focusing on personal growth and self-fulfillment, such as developing a skill or nurturing relationships. Extrinsic goals, in contrast, are motivated by external rewards and recognition, such as financial success, social image, or physical attractiveness. While both types of goals can shape one’s life, they stem from different sources of motivation and can lead to varying degrees of personal satisfaction.
Now let’s dive in and explore!
- Goals: A Flaneur’s Perspective
- Self-Determination Theory: A Pathway to Happiness
- Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Goals
- Understanding Intrinsic Goals: A Deep Dive
- Exploring Extrinsic Goals: A Deep Dive
- Reevaluating Your Goals: A Framework for Change
- Frequently Asked Questions About Intrinsic and Extrinsic Goals
- Parting Words
Goals: A Flaneur’s Perspective
To Goal or Not to Goal
Goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives that individuals set for themselves. They serve as guideposts that give direction to our lives, providing a sense of purpose and motivation to strive towards something that is beyond our current state. In essence, goals are the milestones we set on our path to creating the lives we envision for ourselves.
In contrast, consider the approach of the flâneur, a leisurely wanderer who strolls through life with an open and observant mind. For the flâneur, life isn’t necessarily about achieving specific objectives, but rather about the journey itself and the richness of the experiences along the way.
This perspective aligns more closely with intrinsic goals, as the flâneur seeks personal growth, authentic experiences, and deep engagement with the world around them, not for external rewards but for the sheer joy and fulfillment it brings. The flâneur is not devoid of purpose, instead, their purpose is shaped more like a vision—a fluid and evolving idea of what life can be, rather than a rigid set of criteria that must be met. In this light, goals in the flâneur’s world are more like signposts that guide the journey, rather than destinations unto themselves. They might ask, “What path will enrich my life and bring me joy and understanding?” rather than, “What must I achieve?”
The Influence of Different Types of Goals on Life
This article will explore the profound impacts that intrinsic and extrinsic goals have on an individual’s life. While intrinsic goals tend to promote long-term satisfaction and psychological well-being, extrinsic goals, although not necessarily detrimental, often lead to temporary satisfaction and are more dependent on external circumstances. As we delve into these two categories of goals, we will unpack the psychological underpinnings of each and offer insights into how a balanced approach can cultivate a fulfilling and purpose-driven life.
Self-Determination Theory: A Pathway to Happiness
Self-determination theory (SDT) is a school of thought in psychology that explores the motivations behind people’s choices and how they relate to psychological needs. It looks at how we make decisions when there’s an absence of external influence.
A self-determined individual is essentially someone who:
- Takes responsibility for their own actions
- Feels in control of their own behaviors, decisions and life direction
- Validates themself and finds motivation from within
- Makes decisions based on their own set of values
- Pursues goals that fulfill their own intrinsic needs
The last point is significant because our goals guide our behavior and drive us to take certain actions.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Goals
According to SDT, there are two kinds of goals: intrinsic and extrinsic goals. They each have the opposite effect on our happiness and well-being.
Intrinsic goals are goals of the self, whereas extrinsic goals are outer, worldly goals.
Let’s look at some examples:
|Getting filthy rich
|Having status or the perfect image
|Having good relationships
|Being your authentic self
|Upgrading skill set
|Admiration from others
Certain goals make us happier because they help us fulfill our deep-seated psychological needs.
Self-determination theory says that we as humans have three basic needs that we’re motivated by:
- Autonomy: The need to feel in control of your own behaviors, life and ultimately your destiny.
- Competence: The need to master tasks or skills that are personally important.
- Relatedness: The need to feel a sense of connectedness and maintain relationships with others.
The goals we chase affect our well-being differently depending on whether or not they help us meet these needs.
Striving for intrinsic goals makes us happier because these needs can be directly fulfilled.
Chasing extrinsic goals, on the other hand, makes us unhappy. Several studies have shown that adolescents, university students and adults who are motivated by extrinsic values are more likely to report psychological problems such as anxiety, depression and substance abuse and less likely to report feelings of self actualization, subjective vitality, or positive affect.
If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Extrinsic goals like rewards are contingent upon others.
They’re also a means to an end. When we chase them, we’re actually in search of something else.
Understanding Intrinsic Goals: A Deep Dive
Characteristics of Intrinsic Goals
Intrinsic goals are deeply personal, stemming from an individual’s internal values and interests. They are pursued for their own sake, and the satisfaction they bring is not dependent on external validation or recognition. Instead, they are tied to personal growth, genuine happiness, and a sense of purpose.
Benefits of Intrinsic Goals
Pursuing intrinsic goals has been linked to a plethora of psychological benefits, including increased happiness, lower stress levels, and greater life satisfaction. These goals align with one’s authentic self and values, leading to a life that feels more meaningful and fulfilling.
Examples of Intrinsic Goals
- Personal Growth: Learning a new language to connect with one’s heritage
- Health and Wellness: Adopting a fitness routine for the joy of movement and personal well-being, not for appearance
- Relationships: Cultivating a loving and supportive partnership based on mutual respect, rather than social expectations
Exploring Extrinsic Goals: A Deep Dive
Characteristics of Extrinsic Goals
Extrinsic goals are driven by external factors. They are often associated with societal norms, recognition from others, and tangible rewards such as money or prestige. The satisfaction derived from these goals is often temporary and contingent on external circumstances.
The Double-Edged Sword of Extrinsic Goals
While extrinsic goals can provide motivation and structure, and are often necessary in a modern society (such as career ambitions that secure financial stability), they can also lead to stress, anxiety, and a sense of emptiness when they are not aligned with an individual’s true self or values.
Examples of Extrinsic Goals
- Career Success: Climbing the corporate ladder for status and a higher salary, not necessarily for passion for the job
- Social Recognition: Maintaining a certain appearance or lifestyle to gain likes on social media
- Material Wealth: Acquiring the latest luxury car to impress neighbors and friends
Reevaluating Your Goals: A Framework for Change
Self-Assessment: Identifying Your Own Goals
Before you can set out on a new path, it’s essential to understand where you currently stand. Take time to reflect and write down your current goals, both big and small. As you look over this list, ask yourself: Are these goals truly mine, or are they what society, family, or peers expect of me? Do these goals bring me joy and align with my personal values and interests?
Strategies for Shifting Toward More Intrinsic Goals
If you find your list leans heavily toward extrinsic goals, consider these strategies for a shift:
- Explore Your Passions: Dedicate time to exploring what genuinely excites and interests you, independent of external expectations.
- Redefine Success: Craft a new, personal definition of success that encompasses your values and what you truly want in life.
- Prioritize Self-Care: Make your physical, emotional, and mental well-being a central goal.
- Connect with Others Authentically: Foster relationships based on genuine connection, rather than networking for status.
Setting Goals Mindfully and Intentionally
In setting new goals, or reevaluating old ones, practice mindfulness and intentionality:
- Be Specific and Clear: Aim for clarity and specificity in what you want to achieve.
- Align with Your Values: Ensure your goals are in harmony with your deepest values, not just societal norms or others’ expectations.
- Set Realistic and Achievable Milestones: Create a step-by-step plan that makes your goals attainable and less overwhelming.
- Practice Self-Compassion: Acknowledge that it’s okay to shift goals as you grow and change, and that it’s perfectly normal to have both intrinsic and extrinsic goals.
To Ponder: Reflective Questions for Deeper Insight
To further guide your introspective journey in reevaluating your goals, ponder these questions:
- What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? This question helps to uncover what you are genuinely passionate about, without the fear of failure.
- If money were no object, how would you spend your time? This helps to distinguish between what you do for money and what you do for love and passion.
- What legacy do you want to leave behind? This question guides you to think long-term and consider what truly matters in the grand scope of life.
- When do you feel most alive? Reflect on moments when you felt most vibrant and engaged. What were you doing during these times?
- What are you willing to struggle for? Achieving meaningful goals often involves challenges and sacrifices. What are you willing to endure for the sake of something deeply important to you?
- How would your life change if you were no longer concerned with others’ opinions? This question encourages shedding the weight of external expectations and imagining a life driven by your own desires and values.
- What does your ideal day look like? Envisioning your perfect day can provide insight into what you truly value and what goals align with that vision.
Frequently Asked Questions About Intrinsic and Extrinsic Goals
What is an example of extrinsic and intrinsic goals?
Extrinsic goals are motivated by external rewards or avoidance of negative consequences. For example, working a job primarily to earn money or gain social status. Intrinsic goals are motivated by internal values or desires, like pursuing a hobby because it brings joy or personal satisfaction. For instance, learning to play an instrument for the sheer love of music.
What is the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic?
Extrinsic refers to external factors or rewards that motivate behavior, such as money, grades, or praise. Intrinsic refers to internal factors or inherent satisfaction that motivate behavior, such as personal interest, enjoyment, or a sense of purpose. In essence, extrinsic motivation comes from outside the individual, while intrinsic motivation comes from within.
What is the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic validation?
Extrinsic validation refers to seeking approval or affirmation from external sources, such as compliments, social acceptance, or awards. Intrinsic validation, on the other hand, comes from within oneself; it involves recognizing and affirming one’s own value and accomplishments independently of external recognition or praise. Intrinsic validation is typically linked to higher self-esteem and emotional well-being.
So what do all of these findings mean for you as an traveler or entrepreneur? Quite simply, it pays to set goals that are intrinsic rather than extrinsic.
Studies have shown that people who are intrinsically motivated (driven by their own internal desires) tend to be more creative and productive than those who are externally driven. They also tend to be happier and less stressed out.
When thinking of business ideas and products, if you can tap into your customer’s intrinsic motivations and give them a sense of autonomy and self-determination, you may see better results from your marketing efforts. Or when creating your own travel plans and next steps in your life, it can help to make decisions that align with your own intrinsic goals.
Have you analyzed your goals and motivations using the framework we outlined in the post? Leave us a comment below and let us know how it went!