I recently finished the book, Payoff by Dan Ariely. This is a book all about motivation. It is a short read, but helpful at all levels of leadership and interpersonal skills.
Motivation is much more complex than it first appears. It is a mix of pride, achievement, happiness, and many other factors, but most significantly is, meaning.
People are more motivated when they know the work they do is meaningful. It doesn’t have to be significant on a large scale; it just needs to be graded or retained.
When your work is meaningful, you will be motivated to complete it, even for lower pay and even in times when you do not feel happy - it doesn’t matter if it’s miserable sometimes.
For example, those with excruciating work:
These people don’t enjoy the task itself more than others, they just derive more meaning from it.
A sense of meaning usually happens when people feel that they are working for a bigger purpose.
The more work you put into something, the more meaningful it will seem to you, so, you can give your work meaning by putting in more effort, time, or energy. These will help you consider it more valuable and thus more meaningful.
When people find intrinsic value in the work, their motivation further increases. They will continue doing their jobs even without monetary rewards. For long-term motivation, individuals have to feel motivated from the inside.
However, people are unmotivated to do intrinsically enjoyable work if its meaning is withdrawn. When people are forced to do meaningless work, they don’t perform as well as people who enjoy the work. When projects are abandoned because they’re no longer in a company’s best interests, employees can lose motivation if their work on that project is viewed as meaningless by management.
Contrarily, external motivators, like money or social status, are just momentary (they will work in the short run) and are not sustainable in the long haul and may actually hurt motivation in the long-term!
Meaning is not always synonymous with personal happiness.
The most powerful motivator in the world is our connection to others
To motivate ourselves and others successfully, we need to provide a sense of connection and meaning