This is a very interesting look at two different ways of categorizing motivation: internal and instrumental motivation and their relation to a person’s success or failure later on. The first (internal motivation) is a motivation that is closely related to the activity that the motivation produces. For example, I want to go to graduate school to learn so I can be a better therapist. I’m likely to learn in graduate school, pass the licensing exam, and go into private practice. That’s a likely successful outcome.
The second kind of motivation (instrumental motivation) seems to be a motivation that is much farther removed from the actual activity. For example, an instrumental motivation might be that I want to be wealthy, so I’ll go to graduate school. The odds of becoming wealthy via graduate school are far less likely because producing wealth depends on many factors. Now, if I went to Harvard graduate school, I might have a much higher chance of becoming wealthy, but not because the education was better necessarily. Sure, the quality of education is better, but I’d also meet people who could provide opportunities later on. One powerful conclusion by the author in the article is that “efforts should be made to structure activities so that instrumental consequences do not become motives. I agree! Trying to become wealthy is probably a hindrance to actually becoming wealthy. It’s paradoxical, but in my own experience, very true.