“What motivates you?” The answer to this simple question can make a huge impact on your life. Here’s why.

One of the first conversations that I have with clients has to do with motivation. Before beginning our coaching, I ask clients to complete a “Key Motivators” exercise, where they identify the things that motivate them. I’ve noticed that many people have a hard time with this.

It seems that many of us just wander through life without much thought as to why we do the things that we do. However, understanding personal motivations is essential for anyone who wants to achieve success — in both their professional and personal life. Our motives are what give us drive in life. Here’s an example of why it’s so important to understand your motivators.

Case Study

One of my clients, Stephen, was a researcher at a large pharmaceutical company. Stephen has achieved much success in his position. He was compensated very well and recognized by company executives for his work. Despite this success, Stephen wasn’t happy in his current role. He began to view his job as increasingly frustrating and stressful. He often had difficulty staying focused.

Stephen chalked his work difficulties up to being burned out. He took a two-week vacation to Europe, thinking that he would feel energized when he returned. Instead, Stephen felt increasingly pessimistic about the work that he was doing every day.

I had a hunch that his current career was not aligned with his motivations and I was correct. Stephen’s answers on the “Key Motivators” quiz made it clear that he’s most passionate when teaching others. Yet, in his current role, he spent the majority of his time working alone.

Stephen quickly realized that teaching and mentoring were more important to him than a large salary. Stephen consequently decided to change his career path. Stephen currently teaches pharmaceutical science at a large university. In this position, he feels motivated and energized. All of the work issues plaguing him before have disappeared.

Understanding Motivators

Motivation is what gives you the drive to go to work each day. It helps you push on when faced with challenges. Here are some key things to remember when it comes to motivators.

We Don’t Have the Same Ones

If we were all motivated by the same things, it would be easy. However, that is not the case. You may be motivated by a large salary while your colleague prizes a flexible work experience.

They (Mostly) Remain Stable Over Time

For the most part, key motivators remain the same over time. Although motivators may shift in priority in response to life circumstances, remarkably, they tend to stay the same from one year to the next. Additionally, you may have multiple motivators. Most people are not motivated by just one thing.

How to Figure Out What Motivates You

So, how can you figure out what really matters to you? To find out what motivates you, it’s necessary to develop self-awareness. This requires a bit of self-examination. You have to find out the “why” behind your motivation. Think of times when you were excited to complete a task. What drove you to that feeling?

After identifying what motivates you, the next step is to determine how well the fit is between your current situation and what drives you. If these things are not aligned, you must consciously take steps to align your motivations to your professional and personal life. This is where coaching can be very helpful.

Final Thoughts

Finding out what motivates you can ultimately lead you to do work that is meaningful and purposeful. This can help you build a more joyful life.

If you are ready to close the gap between your motivators and your current life, book your complimentary one-hour consultation.

Peter Sherer is a nationally recognized career coach who offers clarity and confidence to mid-career and senior executives in transition. In just two short days, his rigorous assessment tools enable his clients to identify a meaningful assignment that uses all of their skills and experience. Learn more and get in touch with Peter today.