Several months ago, I read an article on LinkedIn about pursuing the job of your dreams. Chase your passion. Do what you love. If you do what you love, the money will follow. Motivation won’t be a problem. A compelling message. It’s taps into the rich vein of discontent we can often experience with our daily grind. But… it’s a message that comes with a lot of questions.
What job would I actually love? How could I take the leap without causing stress to those that depend on me? How long will it take for the “money to follow”? Will paragliding off the coast of Brazil really fulfil me? What about the people that can’t just jump ship for a myriad of reasons?
While I agree in principle that you should find the job you love, I’d like to suggest another approach. What if it is less about changing our job but rather changing the way we work? Making the work itself compelling. Creating the right environment to work at our best. An environment that taps into our intrinsic motivation.
In Daniel Pink’s Drive, he introduces us to purpose, mastery and autonomy. A simple but cohesive framework leading to intrinsic motivation. Making the work itself something that engages us.
People want to feel connected to a cause or a meaningful pursuit that is greater than themselves. We want to know why our work is useful. How our work contributes to the mission of the organisation.
To apply purpose in your job, you could use your regular team meetings. Tell stories to acknowledge how people have contributed to the mission of the organisation. This simple practice will reinforce to you and others that your work matters. Passing on positive client feedback to the rest of the team is sure to make them proud of their work.
A sense of progression on something meaningful motivates us. This involves a clear understanding of what we are aiming for. Goal clarity. Then regular, if not immediate, feedback to ensure we know how we are tracking towards the goal. Finding your flowthen helps to create the conditions for you to work at your best to make progress.
To practice mastery at work, spend 5 minutes at the end of each day to record when you felt you made meaningful progress that day. Do this for a couple of weeks. Ask other members of your team to do the same. Compare notes at the end of the week to identify the tasks and conditions in which you made the most progress.
The desire to self-direct our lives. The autonomy I’m talking about must be aligned autonomy. A phrase coined by Henrik Kniberg, one of Spotify’s agile coaches. Freedom to choose the tasks you do, the time you do them, how you do them and who you do them with. But aligned to the parameters of the mission and objectives of the organisation or team. Often autonomy requires small steps to begin with. For example, suggest a trial of working from home one afternoon a week for the next month. You’ll get more traction than suggesting two days from home indefinitely right away.
To integrate autonomy in your role, look to bring more choice into your work at the task level. You may not get to come to work whenever you want but could you decide when you have your weekly team meeting?
So maybe the job you love could be the one you’re currently in. Perhaps adding purpose, mastery and autonomy to your role will make your work lovable. After all, the grass is usually greener where you water it!
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I will be looking at the principles of Intrinsic Motivation in more depth in future blogs. Including more examples of how organisations have integrated them. If there is anything you would like to hear more about please reach out. In the spirit of mastery, feel free to provide feedback on how you found this blog post.
Doug Maarschalk is a trainer, facilitator and coach who uses the principles of intrinsic motivation as the foundation for his work. He has worked with New Zealand businesses in the horticulture, legal, accounting, financial services, real estate and healthcare sectors.
Read more about the Services Doug provides and the Clients he has worked with.