In the science of human behavior, reward systems are frequently explored. There have been countless studies done on the effects of extrinsic (external) vs. intrinsic (internal) motivation. It”s widely understood that intrinsic motivation, (doing something for the pure love of it) is much more powerful than extrinsic (doing something only because you’ll get rewarded somehow as a result).
The really interesting fact, however, is that an extrinsic reward system actually works to extinguish internal motivation with time. For instance, a child loves to color, but as soon as you start paying the child 1 sticker star for every drawing he produces, his production goes down as does his interest. To stoke that fire within, the energy has to come from the heart. Not the pay check. A pay check is a nice benefit, but if it”s our sole motivation for getting on the bus every morning, our interest will inevitably diminish.
You can take this principle and apply it to any area of life, actually. For instance, bloggers often struggle with the question of “what do my readers want to hear?” rather than what they should be focusing on, which is, “what do I feel like saying?” Many writers go through this, as do artists in general. You can tell when the unbalance settles in because suddenly the thought of the creative project- which includes any form of work- becomes a burden. As soon as the feeling of expectation overrides the heart, the intrinsic motivation goes kaput.
Everything in life that we love, everything which has no expiration date– our interest never ending– originates in the heart and spirit. Let that be your guide. It knows where to take you. It won”t let you down. We can find something that we love and get paid for it. But the paycheck, when you”re working from the heart, is just icing on the cake.