This post is the follow-up to the previous post titled Motivation. I recommend reading that post first; but here’s a one-sentence summary for those of you who don’t like being told what to do: career satisfaction is tied directly to working in a job that fuels your motivators, so it’s crucial to figure out what truly motivates you.
Once you figure out what motivates you, the next step is to determine whether your current job fuels those motivators enough, keeping in mind that no job will fuel all your motivators all the time. Then, once you make that determination, decide whether you should find a new job or career; or if you can find ways to make your current job fuel your motivators.
I’m a big proponent of do-it-yourself (DIY) tactics, as I don’t like to rely on other people to make things happen for me. Below are a couple DIY moves I’ve made that kept my motivation levels high. (Keep an eye out for italicized text – these are other examples of non-monetary motivators for you to consider if you’re still pondering what really motivates you.)
Write your own timeline. I graduated from law school in 2011 when I was 7 months pregnant with my first child. He was due, coincidentally, on the same day as the multiple-choice portion of the Georgia Bar Exam. My pride told me to think about what my classmates would say if I didn’t take the bar exam with them. I also thought about the legendary pregnant woman who took – and passed! – the bar exam while in labor. Surely I could be as tough as that woman! And I worried whether I’d be able, or feel motivated, to study for the bar exam if I held off. I ultimately decided not to take the exam the same year I graduated. I took it in 2012 with peers who, when they saw me in the bar prep course, said with genuine concern, “Oh, no… Did you not pass last year?” I had to learn to shrug off those comments. I passed the bar exam the first time I took it, all while learning to be a mom. It was great fuel for one of my non-monetary motivators, which is the feeling of accomplishing something on my own terms.
You can write your own timeline at work, too. Are you motivated by a desire to lead or manage other people? See what the promotion timeline looks like at your company. If you want to speed it up, or slow it down, find someone on your organization’s management team who moved outside of the normal timeline and ask how she did it. You may be surprised by the answer.
If it’s not there, create it. A desire to make an impact, large or small, is one of my strongest drivers. Whenever I see a void or need, I want to help fill it. If there’s a problem, I want to help solve it. Something’s not working right or someone’s unhappy? Let me figure out why and what can be done to fix it. When I joined my last law firm, I was disappointed with the state/practical nonexistence of the office’s Associates Committee. (Non-lawyers: the Associates Committee is the group that facilitates the programming for non-partner lawyers in the firm.) So I raised my hand and said, “If no one else wants to be Associates Committee Chair, I’d like to do it.” I took it upon myself to enlist a great group of colleagues who helped me revive the committee, create a monthly newsletter, develop a meaningful programming calendar, and get a budget approved. We created a succession plan so the committee wouldn’t die if any of us decided to leave the firm (me included). We made things happen for the benefit of the other Associates that had never happened before. It was fun, challenging, and morale-boosting. And, because it nourished my hunger for making an impact, it kept me happy at work even when the work itself sucked.
In my experience, most organizations are not so rigid that a determined, able person will be shut out from building his or her own “field of dreams.” The void you take it upon yourself to fill may not even be work-related. For example, if you’re motivated by commitment to your physical health and competition, you may consider starting a FitBit challenge among a few of your co-workers. Maybe you’ll even ask the senior manager who wears a black FitBit every day – and who you’ve always wanted to have as a mentor – to join. There’s no limit to the opportunities you can create if you use your natural motivators as a starting point.
Please Comment Below: What are some DIY tactics you’ve deployed that have helped keep you satisfied at work?