There is a lot of conflicting career advice out there that puts certain types of motivation in right and wrong categories. The idea of following your dreams, for example, is often considered noble, but to pursue a job solely because it will make you a great deal of money might be viewed as the “wrong” motivation. The truth is, we are people with different personalities, backgrounds, values and needs. In the end, only you can determine whether or not you are being true to your own values.
When you are considering where you want to work and what you’d like to do, it can be helpful to step back and assess your motives. Here are a few types of motivation that you might identify with:
Who do you hope to provide for in the future? Some people’s primary concern is whether or not they will be able to provide for themselves. They know with personal financial security comes the freedom and independence they that need to feel happy. For people motivated by security, money might be seen as a way to provide for the people they love either in the present or future. This motivation is common among personality types that are considered “planners”. If you have a tendency to think about the future, a dislike for transition periods and uncertainty, and enjoy working in a structured setting with clear expectations, you might value security.
What type of lifestyle are you hoping to obtain or sustain? Money opens doors and can be a way to achieve your dreams of traveling around the world, or starting up a business or going to the Olympics. Having a lot of money is tied not only to security, but also to status. If you are motivated by money, it might be important to you that you have nice things and are seen in a certain way. To some, working is a way to achieve a luxurious or comfortable lifestyle.
Do you love what you are doing? This motivation type is more based on emotions and the present moment. People who pursue their passion are genuinely enjoying the process of getting where they’re going. Since it is emotion-based, this type of motivation is subject to change or expand depending on your experiences.
Do you have something to prove to yourself or someone else? Some of the most amazing human feats were accomplished through competition. Competition is often tied to ego and even though it can push you to do your best work, it can also produce many emotional highs and lows. For instance, it may be difficult for you to find contentment if you are not the best or you don’t view yourself as “winning”.
Are you doing what you’re doing because you’re afraid of judgment or uncertainty? If there were one type of motivation that I would consider “wrong,” it would be to make your future decisions out of fear or insecurities. Nobody wants to fail, but if your fear of failure or disappointing someone else renders you incapable of taking risks, you might not be living your life to it’s fullest potential.
Do you want to make a difference? Whether you want to feel like your life has meaning and significance or whether you want to be a part of a collective effort to produce a better future, impact can be a strong motivating force.
Although we are all looking for happiness in this lifetime, we all have different beliefs on how to find it. Depending your personality and values, you may disagree or identify with certain career advice. Just remember to take your own motivation into account when you are in the process of making life decisions and stick true to what you believe will be the most fulfilling.