The Secret To Finding A Career That Motivates You

Have you ever been in a job interview where you were asked, “What motivates you?”

Did you scramble to come up with an answer?

Perhaps it wasn’t even an authentic answer that you ended up sharing.

Instead, it was one you thought you should say to the interviewer in order to position you well for the job at hand.

Well this article is NOT about how to answer that question so that you sound good in your next interview.

This article IS about how to authentically answer that question for YOURSELF…. so that…..

  1. You become AWARE of what truly does MOTIVATE you.
  2. You can use this new awareness to better decipher what your dream role needs to look like.

To put it bluntly, if you want a career you LOVE….. You have to feel TRULY motivated by the work you do.

I think a lot of the reason that so much of the workforce is disengaged, is because people are in roles that don’t MOTIVATE them.

With this in mind, read through the following list of 20 workplace motivators and rank them out from MOST motivating to LEAST motivating.  

Tips To Keep In Mind:  

  1. Be HONEST with yourself.  I encourage you to ask yourself which of these TRULY excites you (versus which of these you think you SHOULD be motivated by.)
  2. Think of specific times at work where you felt EXCITED and MOTIVATED to accomplish a task. (What was BEHIND that motivation?)


Instructions: Go through this checklist and rank these motivators in the order of MOST motivating to LEAST motivating.

1. Achievement & Challenge

You are motivated by achievement & challenge if you feel EXCITED by…

  • Seeking ways to hit a new personal best.
  • Difficult goals that require lots of effort.
  • The JOURNEY to get to the peak of the mountain (not just being on the peak)
  • Hitting a goal and then sprinting off to the next thing.

2.  Results

You are motivated by results if you feel EXCITED by…

  • Having a concrete goal to hit.
  • The process of strategizing in order to achieve said results.
  • Seeing the tangible OUTCOME of what you’ve achieved.

3. Data Analysis

You are motivated by data analysis if you feel EXCITED by…

  • Analyzing complex data in order to draw clear and simple conclusions.
  • Saying “bring on the spreadsheets!” so you can get underneath the hood to figure out what’s driving the numbers.
  • Helping your organization connect the dots between data and next steps for achieving sales or goals.

4. Power & Influence

You are motivated by power & influence if you feel EXCITED by…

  • Being “in charge.”
  • A high-ranking title over money.
  • Directing others & having authority to make impactful decisions.
  • Being followed & appreciated.

5. Customer Experience

You are motivated by customer experience if you feel EXCITED by…

  • Finding ways to provide outstanding customer service.
  • Silently picking apart other companies’ customer service and mulling over how you’d improve.
  • Going above and beyond for the client.

6. Harmonious Relationships

Harmonious relationships motivate you if…

  • The type of job you are actually doing is less important than being surrounded by colleagues, a leader, and a team that you love.
  • A sense of belonging is important to you.
  • You need to feel accepted by others.
  • Chit chatting with colleagues is not to “waste time” but because you genuinely care about them as people and all details of their lives.
  • You require personal interaction in your job.

7. Security

Security motivates you if…

  • Continuity, consistency, and predictability are important in your career & salary.  
  • You are not a huge fan of change.

8. Coaching & Mentoring

Coaching and mentoring motivates you if…

  • Your favorite part of being a leader is sitting down one-on-one with your direct reports and coaching them on achieving their goals.
  • You don’t like to micromanage. You’d rather empower your associates by asking questions to help them come upon their own answer.
  • You wish your role allowed for more time coaching and less of the other “stuff” that comes alongside being an executive leader.

9. Learning New Things

Learning new things motivates you if you…

  • Love attending conferences and workshops on new topics or trends.
  • Find Learning and Development courses online to be fun.
  • Gravitate towards books in the book store that TEACH you something new.
  • Get restless when a role isn’t allowing you to learn new things.
  • Learn even when you don’t get paid.
  • Are highly curious.

10. Making An Impact

Making an impact motivates you if you…

  • Need to feel you are a part of something that is bigger than yourself.
  • Find yourself raising your hand to work on highly visible and important company projects (even when not in your department.)
  • Need to feel like what you do each day is “making a difference” to your company, your clients, or the world.

11. Adventure

Adventure motivates you if you…

  • Get excited by risk and uncertainty.
  • Embrace change (whether in your work environment or the work itself.)
  • Are always ready to try something new.
  • Believe that you either win or you learn… but you never fail.
  • Daydream of becoming an entrepreneur.
  • Bore easily.

12. Fun

Fun motivates you if you…

  • Need to be able to laugh at work every day. (Fun at work.)
  • Can handle a mundane job only if it allows you to have insane amounts of fun outside of work. (Fun outside of work.)
  • When you have a day at work that doesn’t feel fun… you feel incredibly off and almost a bit depressed or lethargic.  
  • Feel life is meant to be enjoyed.

13. Problem Solving

Problem Solving motivates you if you…

  • Pride yourself on being the go-to person when people have a problem.
  • Cannot witness a problem without wanting to fix it.
  • Can’t get through a work commute without your brain rattling off ways to solve work problems. (And you ENJOY this versus feel stressed by it.)

14. Innovation

Innovation motivates you if you…

  • Challenge the way things are “normally” done.
  • Dream of working at companies like “Apple” that require their employees to think outside the box.
  • Feel stifled by organizations or colleagues that want to keep things status quo.
  • Find creative ways to improve things.
  • Love seeing a product or service come to fruition that was originally just a thought in your brain.

15. Family

Family motivates you if you…

  • Happily do any type of job as long as it supports your family.
  • Focus on being hyper-efficient at work so that you can get out at a decent hour solely to spend time with your loved ones.
  • Ensure a company culture is “family friendly” before you take a job.
  • Would turn down a high-paying job doing something you loved if it meant you wouldn’t have much time to spend with your family.

16. Flexibility

Flexibility motivates you if you…

  • Are ok occasionally working overtime and weekends as long as your organization is ok with you working from home or working non-traditional hours.
  • Want to be able to take a day off work at a moment’s notice (your work is more about you getting the job done, and less about when you do it.)
  • Are ok mixing work and life…. You may take a work call while on a day off. You are ok intertwining the two as long as you have flexibility.

17. Autonomy

Autonomy motivates you if you…

  • Are excited at the prospect of driving your own goals and vision.
  • Want to be in the driver’s seat of your day-to-day.
  • Can’t stand having a boss looking over your shoulder.  
  • Need independence. 

18. Financial Gain

Financial Gain motivates you if…

  • The role of your dreams has an opportunity for financial reward
  • You are ok knowing that the harder you work, the greater your financial gain will be.
  • You are more motivated by salary than title.

19. Recognition

Recognition motivates you if…

  • The best day ever can be ruined if your accomplishments are not acknowledged.
  • You thrive on praise from your peers and superiors.
  • Even a thank you email can set the tone in a positive direction for the duration of your day.
  • When you work hard on something, the hope that your boss will tell you that you did a great job is in the back of your mind.

20. Variety

Variety motivates you if…

  • You don’t want to be a cog in the wheel doing one work function, but prefer to have your hands in many cookie jars.
  • Your preference is to be a generalist rather than a subject matter expert.
  • You are ok putting out fires as long as your day stays interesting.


Well? How did you do?

How did your motivators rank out?

Which are your top 5 motivators?

And a much more important question…..

Do your top motivators ALIGN with the work you are currently doing?

And how often in your current role do you feel MOTIVATED by your top 5 motivators?

Bottom Line: If your current role does NOT align with your top motivators… what ACTIVE steps are you taking to DESIGN a career that DOES motivate you?

PS: Don’t go it alone! Reach out for some support in identifying which careers out there would be the perfect match for your unique combination of motivators.


Start the discovery process to learn the 5 steps to transition into a career you love.

CLICK HERE to download a free 4 part video training series: “5 Steps to Transition into a Career You Love.”

Let’s do this.

Betty Kempa, CPC, ELI-MP, is an executive career coach helping mid to senior-level corporate women transition out of unfulfilling jobs and into their dream careers. 




  1. Kelly Minichiello on July 1, 2020 at 9:42 PM

    All of the above! Good advice.

    • Betty Kempa on July 14, 2020 at 1:43 AM

      Kelly! Thanks so much & I’m glad you enjoyed!

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