Disadvantages of Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation has long been commended for having a good effect on creativity, productivity, and self-esteem. It is characterized by engaging in activities for internal fulfillment and personal happiness. However, like any psychological idea, it has several frequently disregarded drawbacks. We shall explore the many dangers of intrinsic drive in this extensive post, illuminating potential adverse effects and their ramifications. 

Let’s investigate the effects of excessive self-driven activities on people and suggest balancing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation for the best outcomes.

Disadvantages of Intrinsic Motivation

While intrinsic motivation offers numerous benefits, it is essential to recognize its potential disadvantages to avoid detrimental consequences.

1. Burnout and Exhaustion:

Excessive engagement in self-driven activities can lead to burnout, as individuals may push themselves beyond their limits to achieve self-imposed goals. The constant pursuit of personal excellence without adequate rest and recovery can result in physical and mental exhaustion, compromising overall well-being.

2. Lack of External Recognition:

Unlike extrinsic motivation, where external rewards and recognition play a role, intrinsic motivation relies solely on internal gratification. Consequently, individuals may not receive the acknowledgment and praise they deserve, potentially impacting their self-esteem and motivation.

3. Limited Goal Orientation:

Intrinsic motivation might lead individuals to focus on enjoyable activities, neglecting essential but less enjoyable tasks. Long-term goals and growth opportunities might be overshadowed, hindering holistic development.

4. Reduced Accountability:

Without external expectations or deadlines, individuals driven by intrinsic motivation might experience reduced accountability for their actions. This lack of accountability could lead to procrastination and underperformance.

5. Risk of Tunnel Vision:

An excessive focus on intrinsic goals might lead to tunnel vision, where individuals become oblivious to external factors and fail to adapt to changing circumstances. This narrow perspective can limit creativity and problem-solving abilities.

6. Social Isolation:

Individuals engrossed in their self-driven pursuits might withdraw from social interactions and relationships, potentially leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

7. Competitive Pressure:

In environments that emphasize intrinsic motivation, individuals may feel an intense need to outperform their peers, creating a competitive atmosphere that can foster stress and anxiety.

8. Unrealistic Expectations:

Internal goals driven by intrinsic motivation might not always align with reality, leading to unrealistic expectations. Failure to meet these expectations can result in disappointment and demotivation.

9. Vulnerability to External Influences:

Relying solely on internal motivation can make individuals vulnerable to external criticism or setbacks. These external influences can have a disproportionate impact on their motivation and self-worth.

10. Long-term Satisfaction vs. Short-term Gratification:

Intrinsic motivation often focuses on long-term satisfaction, which might require delayed gratification. Some individuals may struggle to balance this with the desire for immediate rewards, leading to internal conflict.

11. Resistance to Change:

Individuals strongly driven by intrinsic motivation might resist change, fearing it will disrupt their internal compass and a sense of purpose.

12. Risk of Demotivation:

Intrinsic motivation can wane, especially if individuals face continuous challenges or setbacks. This demotivation may be harder to address without external incentives.

13. Potential for Overworking:

In pursuit of personal passions, individuals may neglect work-life balance, leading to overworking and neglecting other aspects of life.

14. Impact on Personal Relationships:

Excessive focus on self-driven pursuits might strain personal relationships, as individuals invest more time in their goals than in nurturing connections with others.

15. Neglect of Extracurricular Interests:

While intrinsic motivation can drive individuals towards specific interests, it may also lead to neglecting other valuable hobbies and activities.

16. Unbalanced Skill Development:

Intrinsic motivation can skew skill development towards areas of personal interest, leaving gaps in essential skills needed for overall success.

17. Loss of Enjoyment:

Relentless pursuit of intrinsic goals can turn enjoyable activities into obligatory tasks, diminishing the joy they once brought.

18. Lack of External Resources:

Intrinsically motivated individuals may not seek external resources, advice, or mentorship, hindering their growth and potential.

19. Risk of Emotional Rollercoaster:

With internal motivation as the primary driving force, individuals may experience frequent emotional fluctuations, affecting their overall stability.

20. Impaired Decision Making:

An overreliance on intrinsic motivation may cloud judgment when making crucial decisions, potentially leading to suboptimal outcomes.

21. Stagnation in Success:

Intrinsic motivation might lead to a sense of contentment with personal achievements, hindering further growth and ambition.

22. Resistance to Constructive Feedback:

Individuals driven by intrinsic motivation might be less receptive to constructive criticism, limiting opportunities for improvement.

23. Inability to Cope with Failure:

While failure is a natural part of the learning process, intrinsically motivated individuals may struggle to cope with setbacks and view them as personal shortcomings.

24. Difficulty in Collaborative Environments:

Excessive focus on personal goals can hinder effective collaboration in team environments, where collective success is paramount.

25. Neglect of Physical and Mental Health:

Intrinsic motivation might lead individuals to prioritize their goals over essential self-care practices, risking their overall health.


Although intrinsic motivation has the potential to be a tremendous force for personal development and fulfillment, it is important to recognize and deal with any potential drawbacks.

By understanding the pitfalls of excessive self-driven pursuits, individuals can make informed decisions to balance intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Embracing both forms of motivation can lead to a more fulfilling and well-rounded journey toward success and personal development.


Q: How can one avoid burnout caused by intrinsic motivation?

A: To avoid burnout, individuals should set realistic goals, practice self-compassion, and incorporate adequate rest and relaxation into their routines.

Q: Can intrinsic motivation be balanced with extrinsic motivation?

A: Yes, striking a balance between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can lead to more holistic and sustainable growth.

Q: What are some effective strategies to maintain motivation in self-driven pursuits?

A: Setting clear objectives, celebrating small successes, seeking peer support, and maintaining a growth mindset can help sustain motivation.

Q: Is intrinsic motivation consistently superior to extrinsic motivation?

A: Not necessarily. Both motivational approaches have benefits and drawbacks, and the efficacy of each relies on the user and the situation.

Q: How can one overcome resistance to change caused by intrinsic motivation?

A: Emphasizing the benefits of adaptability and growth, seeking support from mentors, and gradually exposing oneself to change can help overcome resistance.

Q: Is it possible to regain lost motivation due to continuous setbacks?

A: Yes, individuals can regain lost motivation by reevaluating their goals, seeking feedback, and reminding themselves of their purpose and passion.

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