Education Career Services

May 27, 2009

What Motivates You?

Filed under: Career Cafe — EducationCS @ 7:56 pm
Tags: , , , ,

elephanyMoney is that elephant in the room obscuring everything else.  Certainly, we must be paid to do a job; but is that what motivates you?  At times, no doubt.  Monday mornings in particular, the alarm requires added power that getting a paycheck provides.  Once you’re in the door, though, what powers your work day?

A stunning amount of people are unhappy with their jobs, yet if you ask them why, they can’t articulate it very well.  In the same vein, a mid-life crisis spreads malaise across a personal landscape.  Both of these, according to studies, are at least partly rooted in undefined motivation.

The unhappy employee regularly accepts jobs that don’t satisfy because the don’t know what satisfies them.  Likewise, middle-aged adults who do clearly know what drives them rarely struggle with mid-life crisis; those who do begin to find their motivators are shallow and lack meaning.

We don’t consciously choose our motivators; discovering them is an introspective pursuit.  If we don’t have a burning need to help people, for example, suddenly deciding you’re going to be motivated by helping people won’t work.

There are several methods of discovery; one looks back, the other is more experiential.

Examine your life for times and events that were the most fulfilling (not necessarily the most fun).  From there, what was satisfying?  If baking bread was a supremely satisfying experience, dig a little deeper; was it the creation of a product or the pleasure to the end-users that engaged you?

Alternatively, or in addition to the above, begin volunteering your time in a variety of service opportunities, both group and individual.  Which do you want to repeat?  Which don’t you want to repeat?

Discover, define, and test your motivators.   Give the elephant some company and watch your job satisfaction spur greater accomplishments!


Rob Swanson

Managing Writer

Career Services International –

Education Career Services –


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