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"I don't know what to do"

You're about to finish high school or uni and you still have no idea what to do. Beware of the conflict between your intrinsic and extrinsic motivations - they can lead you astray when making your big decision. Here’s why.

Kaitlin Wooley and Ayelet Fishbach conducted experiments of people going to the gym. They found that when people were planning to go to the to the gym they focused on the outcome ie. improved health (extrinsic motivation), but when they were at the gym, they focused on the experience itself (intrinsic motivation).

How this impacts on the question of what to do next is that extrinsic motivators are more likely to influence your decision making. You'll think about what job will pay more, how will a certain course get you a job, how difficult the programme is, how much it costs etc. While these are all worthwhile considerations, the bottom line is that you could end up doing something that doesn’t ring your bells and is hard to do simply because your intrinsic motivation isn’t kicking in.

We know that happiness and satisfaction are not connected. You may end up with a life that is satisfied in terms of what you have achieved and bought; but you just might not be happy. Keep this in mind when considering your next move; there is nothing like the intrinsic joy of work. It doesn’t feel like work.


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