Here’s an interesting article I read in the New York Times about motives, “The Secret of Effective Motivation,” by Amy Wrzesniewski and Barry Schwartz. The authors point out that people who work for internal reasons that have meaning to them, will be more successful in the long run.
They describe two kinds of motives: internal and instrumental. Internal motives are ones that have meaning, like a teacher’s desire to teach because they love to teach. Instrumental motives seek outward gain, like a bigger paycheck or fame.
Parents, teachers, recruiters, employers often resort to instrumental motives to get people to do what they want them to do, for instance, the employer offering a bonus check for higher performance on the job, or a parent promising a new toy to a child who does their chores. Instrumental motives may produce short term results, but in the long run, the material gain is not enough to hold the person’s interest. They need more. They need internal reasons to keep up their good work.
The authors wrote, “Helping people focus on the meaning and impact of their work, rather than on, say, the financial returns it will bring, may be the best way to improve not only the quality of their work but also — counterintuitive though it may seem — their financial success.”
As I studied the article I thought of reasons some people take up the study of Christian Science. Often, new students are seeking physical healing. And they may gain the healing they seek. But in the long run, if the only reason they stay in Science is for more physical healing or material gain—instrumental consequences—they are likely to lose interest, or not be successful. There needs to be an internal reason for studying the truth, a genuine desire to want to know and understand the truth of being above all else. Those who have internal motives are more likely to stick with it forever because the reward is great, they know it and they have it, and are very happy about it.