Do you know what gets you going in the morning, what makes you spring out of bed or sing in the shower?
Understanding this is the key to understanding what kind of work will motivate you to excel and to feel fulfilled.
You may think of your work strictly as a way to meet your financial needs. But underlying this are motives that draw you to particular kinds of tasks and work environments.
These motives are often unconscious. Of course, there are external motivators like a decent salary. But what about your internal motivators, the fuel that makes you focus so intensely that you lose track of time?
This fuel makes the difference between a satisfactory job and one that fires you up to do your best, between a hum drum work life and the feeling deep inside that you truly make a difference to another person, maybe even to the world.
What should you do if you feel stuck in a job that’s not bringing out your best? Learn from the experience so your next job will be better suited to you. For example, I once moved from a large corporation to a small business, thinking I would enjoy the more intimate atmosphere.
Within a week I discovered that I couldn’t cope with the dysfunctional relationships that were at the heart of the family business. I quit and went back to the corporate world. The big lesson was that I needed a work environment where there were rules about how people should behave!
Even if your current work situation is far from perfect, there is a lot to be learned. I strongly believe that each step in our careers gives us something important. Each job is an opportunity to discover more about ourselves. There is no such thing as a wasted experience.
1. Think about your past jobs
What parts of each job were you so engrossed in that you weren’t looking at the clock? Identify the tasks and activities that you really enjoyed. Once you know what you like to do, then you can figure out how to do those things more often in your next job.
2. Articulate the best work environment for you
Do you like uninterrupted time by yourself to think, or do you thrive in a noisy workplace where people are bouncing ideas off one another? We all do our best work in settings where we feel both supported and challenged.
3. Create a mental picture of your ideal job
Where are you and who are you with? What skills are you using? Explore different ideas by drawing pictures or making lists that incorporate the skills, interests and environment that you like best. How are these pictures different from what you are doing now? That’s the gap you want to close.
When you know what truly motivates you, you can make better choices about finding work that will make you want to jump out of bed in the morning. You’ll have no more need for that snooze button!
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