What actually motivates most of us to achieve? Psychology says it is the intrinsic rewards that actually keep us drudging through the details on the worst days and make our best days at work really sing. More specifically, the psychological rewards we value most are autonomy, flow, mastery, purpose, relationships and acknowledgement. Autonomy in the work place means the ability to behave independently, to do things on one’s own, in particular to decide how a task is done or a problem is approached given a set of performance expectations. Flow is the mental state you experience when you are so focused on the task at hand that the rest of the world fades away, it is total engagement in the moment. Mastery is comprehensive knowledge of a subject or skill and the recognition of our expertise or skill level. Purpose means a personal reason or belief in the importance of our work and purpose generally drives our pride in the work. Research shows that purpose is also what helps us decide if our career is a calling. Folks who work at their calling are significantly healthier, happier, and more resilient and live higher quality lives for longer on average than people who never get to work at a calling. In regards to relationships, we don’t have to like the people we work for or with, but it does help us feel motivated to do difficult tasks. We don’t want to let our friends down and we like having people needing/ wanting us to work with them. At the very least we need polite and productive relationships with the people we work for and with or we become demotivated faster than we do when we are missing any other of these intrinsic rewards. The most important part of a bonus or a raise, as it turns out, is when it serves as formal acknowledgement of our efforts and achievements. We want someone, preferably our boss or a leader we respect, to express sincere gratitude for our work. Written acknowledgement that we can refer back to when we need an emotional booster is especially effective—even if it is just a spoken thank you that we wrote down ourselves to remember.
Now let’s talk about how you can use the power of these intrinsic rewards to better fuel your own career development in 2017.
First, avoid falling for 3 Crummy “Justs”:
1.Don’t just write down your goals each year. Do analyze your strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and resources well enough to write down SMART goals and create an Action Priority Matrix. Do update it in writing at least once a quarter.
2.Don’t just “do your best.” Set specific and challenging goals (SMART goals). Identify metrics, red flags and checkpoints for yourself so you can monitor your progress and know when to ask for help.
3.Don’t just visualize success. Visualize all the steps you will take to make success happen. Imagine your efforts failed and identify the most likely reason your efforts failed so that you can plan how to spot it and avoid or mitigate it ahead of time.
Second, do the things that naturally refuel your willpower and intrinsic motivation:
1.Find/ Create Transformative Experiences! Experiences that allow you to see new perspectives and try out serving different purposes deepens your knowledge of yourself and hence improves your personal and professional autonomy.
2.Master your learning orientation so you experience more flow. Praise yourself for going out on a limb to learn new things. What makes failing and trying again just as interesting as actually achieving something for you?
3.Start with what you enjoy most first and you’ll keep going. For folks who enjoying losing weight by dieting more than they do by exercising, losing the first ten pounds by dieting results in mastering both dieting and exercising sooner (and losing and keeping off more weight. This is one way of acknowledging and using your own history of success to fuel you farther.
4.Spend more time figuring out what went well (that you should repeat or leverage, or savor) than you do figuring out what you didn’t do well or didn’t like (and need to fix). Leveraging strengths is like using super powers and leads to mastery much sooner than correcting weaknesses (sometimes impossible anyway) does. This is another practical way of acknowledging your own efforts.
5.Enlist lots of social support and peer pressure. If your teammate expects to see you at that public speaking class, then you are 50 times more likely to show up to the class even if you’re exhausted. When others know your goals and see your progress first hand, they are also a lot more likely to sincerely acknowledge and praise your efforts, thus increasing your feelings of recognition and accomplishment.
Meet our coaches and sign up for our newsletter to learn more about creating transformative job and team experiences specifically (as these are the most effective ways to ramp up your career development), or for inspiring insights from successful leaders, check out our WiseWomen interview series at http://coachingpeoplewise.com/wise-women/