Self-Determination Theory


What if the secret to achieving your most ambitious goals is hidden within the depths of your desires and actions?

Everyone discusses motivation.

Some distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Few realize that while extrinsic motivation might spark initial action, intrinsic motivation fuels long-term commitment.

Yet, almost no one explores the origins of intrinsic motivation.

Enter the world of Self-Determination Theory (SDT), a robust framework that unveils the unseen forces shaping our lives and fostering our most potent drive: intrinsic motivation.

Developed by psychologists Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, SDT identifies three fundamental needs that, when satisfied, nurture intrinsic and sustainable motivation: autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

  • Autonomy: The feeling of control over your actions and decisions. The more autonomous you feel, the stronger your intrinsic motivation, as coercion reduces this drive.
  • Competence: The sense of mastery and effectiveness in your endeavors. Challenges that match your skills enhance intrinsic motivation, while tasks far beyond your reach do not.
  • Relatedness: Connection with others. Feeling valued and part of a community creates intrinsic motivation. If doing the thing lets you feel connected to others in a meaningful way, the motivation to do it becomes increasingly intrinsic.

Understanding SDT can help you in three major ways.

  1. Designing your own life so you can feel motivated from within for the things you care about.
  2. Making spaces for others that help them do difficult tasks regularly using their own motivation.
  3. Making and selling products that people love and can't stop using (hopefully for good reasons).

Using Self-Determination Theory changes both what we do and what we achieve. It helps us live with strong motivation and make others do the same.

Here are 3 other concepts you might benefit from:

The Streetlight Effect

Via Negativa

Causal Reductionism