For a long time, the way we understood motivation really worked. It built companies that would become corporate giants and household names; it made us—and our employees—work harder; it generated enormous profits. That model of motivation was this: pay people, and they’ll do what you want. For a long time, it seemed, people did do what was asked of them in exchange for money. And companies who pursued profits, it seemed, got them.

But right now, that model of motivation is making us miserable. It’s making businesses flounder; it’s making profits nosedive; it’s making employees despair of their jobs. Why?

Motivational speakers and authors Clayton Christensen and Daniel Pink have both arrived at similar but independent conclusions: thinking only in terms of percentages, the sole, dogged pursuit of profit at the expense of innovation have ruined some businesses forever.

This same concept holds true for individuals. If you’ve been choosing your career or jobs based on salary alone, you may find yourself on the fast track to unhappiness. Of course we want a salary that will pay our bills, put a roof over our heads, and provide for our loved ones; but selecting a 6-figure job without regard for other factors is blind, and a rather foolish mistake.

Salary, or compensation, is considered a ‘hygiene factor’ a term first coined by Frederick Herzberg a psychologist who became one of the most influential names in business management. Additional ‘hygiene factors’ are things like the status of your position, the security of your job, working conditions, corporate policies, and managerial practices. If any of these things go awry, you’ll be dissatisfied, and rightly so. Fix these factors to your liking and you won’t be dissatisfied—but you might not be satisfied.

That’s where motivation factors come in. These are factors that will make you love your job. Instead of feeling indifferent or numb in the morning, you’ll feel, well, motivated. Pumped, psyched, “stoked” to get on the freeway and into your office. Motivation factors include challenging work, recognition, responsibility, and personal growth.

When you’re pondering a new position, think of life beyond the bottom line. Ask yourself questions like:

“Will this work be meaningful to me?”
“Will I learn new things?”
“Will I have a chance to be recognized for my achievements?
“Will I have a chance to achieve?”

So what do you need to do to have a career with meaning; with recognition; with abundant learning and knowledge? How do you cover all of the motivation (and hygiene) factors? It may be as simple as “ask, ask ask.” Ask yourself questions—what do you really want from your work? Motivation is deeply personal and only you know what words or images will resonate with you – design a new map if you need on to get you into that place of an intrinsically motivated job. It is my strong belief you align with your true motivation and you’re professional calling will soon follow.

May your next iteration be a fruitful and inspiring one—whatever turn it takes.
Success Clues – At Work, At Play, Everyday