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What motivates us at work; it is probably not what you think!

What motivates us at work

What’s money got to do with it?

Let us take money off the table, now what motivates us?

It’s several things; we want to have control over what we do and how we do it. We want to get better at something that matters, and we want to have a sense of purpose, to contribute.  We want to make a difference and we want to be surrounded by people who are exciting and help us become our best selves. But at a day-to-day level, it turns out there is a particular and significant source of our motivation.

Develop a progress ritual

Teresa Amabile from HBS commissioned some thought-provoking research and found out that the single biggest motivator is this: ‘making progress in meaningful work’. The days we make progress are the days we end up feeling better, we are more motivated we get more done and we come back the next day with a bigger chance of making further progress. But here is the problem, the only way we know if we are making progress is if we get information on how we are doing and most workplaces are feedback deserts. So to make progress, you can’t wait for someone else to deliver you that information. You have got go out and do it yourself, and the best way to do that is to establish a progress ritual: It’s effortless at the end of every day, literally take 1 min to reflect and note your progress. In the Mindset Workshop ™, we call this the ‘I’ve done list’. The I’ve done list’ is a log of all the minor (and significant) accomplishments you have made on the way to your given goals, focusing on the execution of the critical tasks that give you the best chance of success happening as a natural output of the work you put in.

In summary

We know the crucial single motivator is making progress, the world is not going to give you information on your development, so you need to do it yourself the most effective way is to use a progress ritual.

References
Amabile and Kramer (2019) The Progress Principle: The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work.
Pink Dan (2019) The Pinkcast 3.12

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