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A simple self-test to discover what motivates you

if you can discover a job you’re intrinsically motivated to do—as in, it fulfills our needs to have purpose, autonomy, and challenge—you’ll not only be happier and more content, but have increased learning, performance, and creativity, according to a recent review of studies. When discovering how we’re motivated to do our job, there are a few questions to ask yourself:

Are you challenged?

We have higher levels of intrinsic motivation when we pursue goals that challenge our abilities. Where the outcome is uncertain, but we understand the path we need to take to get there. Too little challenge and we become bored and uninterested. Too much and it adds to our anxiety and stress.

Do you feel a sense of curiosity?

Internal motivation is increased when something grabs our attention about the work we’re doing. This could be a new challenge, applying your current skills to a new client, or uncovering a potential path to some new innovation.

Are there opportunities for cooperation and competition?

Working with others helps build the purpose and meaning that’s so important to intrinsic motivation. Is the work you do part of a larger goal? Do you have ample opportunities to work with others and talk through your work? Is there a culture of friendly competition at your work?

Do you feel you get enough recognition?

We’re social creatures and crave attention and praise. However, when we’re intrinsically motivated to work, recognition becomes an added bonus, not the main event. Still, it’s important to know the work you’re doing matters.

Ask yourself these questions to see what’s motivating you at your job. Or better yet, use the answers to start identifying areas where you can make positive changes to your day-to-day tasks. With the right changes to our goals and work environment we can build a career we’re motivated and excited to work towards every single day.

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