What motivates us?


Reading time: 3 mins

Success happens only when you keep doing awesome work in the face of setbacks and frustrations long enough for a breakthrough to happen.

Some kinds of motivation will take you only to the next stop, but for a successful career, you need to know which will survive the marathon.

Let’s see 3 pairs of different kind of motivations and how they can serve you.

Conditional Motivation vs. Intrinsic Motivation

Conditional Motivation

Working for the reward is our first type.


  • This is for example when you are motivated by a nice sum of money. This is not rare in film industry.


  • It has the power to give you a short burst of motivation.
  • You can do anything for a while.
  • Think about the long hours some people are willing to do for a thick paycheck.

The drawbacks?
After a while, you will need bigger and bigger paychecks OR less and less work to get the same money to keep yourself motivated only by this.


Intrinsic Motivation

Working because it feels good working on it.


  • When doing the work itself is the reward.
  • When you just enjoy what you are doing and that’s it.


  • We’ve all been to shoots where we felt just great making that movie. Maybe because we felt on top of our game, the team was great, or the challenge was exciting.

Sometimes it’s difficult to tap into this type, but unlike Conditional Motivation, it can be sustained for a long time.
It won’t require a growing benefit since doing the work itself fulfills you already.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that conditional motivation is useless, it just has it’s place and it’s limitations.

Reactive Motivation vs. Proactive Motivation

Reactive Motivation

Being motivated, away from something.


  • Do things only because you don’t want to be shouted with and humiliated in front of the whole crew.
  • Doing your taxes because the deadline is coming and you don’t want to pay fines.


  • This is giving you a short burst of productivity, then a big dip.
  • As you can see in the illustration, the issue here is: there is no real progress happening.


Proactive Motivation

Being motivated towards something.


  • When you know if you do well, you will be praised, get promoted or win an award.


  • Again, it is sustainable.
  • It is based on strengths and happiness instead of fear.
  • Since it has a goal, a positive vision – real growth and progress can happen.

Self Motivation vs. Empathetic

Self Motivation

Being motivated for your own good.


  • You want to become a successful producer, the best editor, a cinematographer, the Head of Department, Etc.


  • Important for getting ahead, but using only this on the long run can be dangerous.
  • Everything will become about “Am I good enough?” and “I’m better than you.”



For the sake of others


  • Working on a film that might have positive social impact.
  • Or not taking that next job so your family can enjoy time with you.
  • Giving a film workshop in a school for free.

A good question to ask yourself is: What will the world miss out if you don’t continue on your road towards your vision?


  • More joy.
  • Easier to beat difficulties if it’s not for your own good.
  • Less stress since it is not about how well you are performing, but how much good you do to others.

To see it’s real power just consider: This is what makes volunteers work for free.

You will find these motivation types usually combined in everyday life.

  • Like when you are trying to get a promotion so you can get rid of the old place you are living in now.
    • This one is built upon a conditional, reactive, sake of self-motivation.
    • This is not a great combination. It might get you closer to what you want to achieve, but only if you don’t burn out first.
  • Or another example could be you as a HOD.
    Giving options to your team to use their skills, and as a reward, they get your public appraisal while working on a film that speaks to the heart.

    • This intrinsic, proactive, for the sake of others motivation will create a thriving team.
    • And naturally, your thriving team will create your success as well.

We are continuously using these even if we are not aware of them.
If you have a vision, you might get there without knowing these. But it will be so much faster if you know what motivates you and how.

[blockquote author=”” style=”1″]Awareness is the best method to naturally change your motivation style. It will get you out of procrastination and get you moving fast forward.[/blockquote]

Which of these are you usually tapped into while working?

We would love to hear your stories in the comments below!

Cover Photo by Clique Images on Unsplash

About the author

Peter Varnai
By Peter Varnai

Peter Varnai

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Heey, I'm Peter. Father of 2, filmmaker, solopreneur, and a helper of other solopreneurs and self-employed people. :) Feel free to reach out to me and let's have a virtual coffee. or Sign up for the newletter.