What’s your motivation? I vaguely remember this being a dis when I was growing up; a way of asking a person what they were doing or why they were doing it. A response was rarely expected, you just wanted the person to know you were annoyed with them. But as I have traveled my own personal journey of self-discovery and healing, I find myself pondering that question frequently. When taking stock of our daily routines and regular activities, generally, there is a habitual focus on the what, where, how, and with whom, but the why often goes unexplored. If attention is given to the question, “why do I do the things I do?” there is usually a rationalization for the necessity of many of our actions; because I have to, because I need to, because this is what I have always done. But there is something powerful about tracing the origin of our deeds. Careful exploration frequently reveals that much of what we do is motivated by fear.
Working is a non-negotiable task for many of us, but what would we find if we investigated the motives for the specific work that we are currently doing? Some employment may have begun as a convenient solution to make money, yet we refuse to seek other employment even though it is not fulfilling and no longer convenient. There may be several “good” reasons we give for staying, but an honest look at our motivation may reveal that we are afraid of being rejected if we seek other employment. Some employment is a product of our significant investment of time, energy, and other resources, however, the careful exploration of our motivation may disclose our fear of feeling alone because we will disappoint significant loved ones if we abandoned our post and chose another path. Some of our employment is attached to a respected reputation, bears the proverbial crest of our family name, and has been part of our existence for much of our lives. A motivation search may suggest that we continue to do the work, not because we love it, but because we are afraid that we will lose our identity without it. These examples are not true for everyone and it is certainly probable that many people pursue and engage in their employment because they are gifted at it and receive fulfillment from it. There are, however, many of us who have underlying (and often unconscious) motivations that are different from the ones printed on resumes and posted on LinkedIn.
A hard-honest look into our motivations is not always easy, but its revelation can help us gain control over our actions instead of being driven by the unknown. This level of exploration is sometimes prompted when we behave i