Toward or away from—each of us has a different driver of intrinsic motivation.  Some of us are motivated primarily by what we might gain from a situation.

We’re goal driven, pulled toward opportunities and an outcome.

This “toward” motivation is often about external rewards—money, success,  fame, material possessions. But it can also be about internal rewards, such as honouring your values, having the impact you want in the world, rising to a challenge, or gaining control over a situation.

Some of us, on the other hand, are motivated by what we will avoid if we achieve our goals.

Again, that can be externally driven (not being told off by your boss, not disappointing the team) or it can be internally driven (not stepping on your values, not breaking a promise).

For instance, when my wife and I think about going out to dinner, I’m driven by a “toward” motivation, whereas she’s driven by an “away from” motivation. I  want a nice meal, but I most want to go somewhere new and different because  I’m motivated to have a new experience and try new foods.

She wants a nice meal, too, but she most wants to avoid a mediocre (or worse) experience and for that reason tends to want to return to familiar and trusted restaurants. (Sometimes we make it out the door.

And sometimes we just end up cooking dinner at home.)