What Actually Motivates You At Your Job

Have you ever thought about what is the #1 important thing to you about your job?  It’s a difficult exercise, but try rank sorting the following:

  • Having a great boss
  • Getting paid well
  • Getting recognized by peers
  • Liking your coworkers
  • Making progress on your tasks
  • Work / life balance
  • Learning / Growth

Man, that is like, really hard.  I want them all.  Everyone always says that you quit your boss, so maybe then having a great boss should be #1?


I recently read a book that did a study of tens of thousands of employees (and had them keep journals) and did actual quantitative analysis of what made them happy in their job.  Really interesting stuff.

Turns out that the overwhelming thing that drove work fulfillment was GETTING SHIT DONE.  Well, more acutely and less profanely, making progress on meaningful work.  Doing a mundane task that had impact on a larger mission was still a positive event – and working on something cool/complex that wasn’t deemed important was not a positive event. Indeed bad relationships with coworkers or even bosses obviously negatively impacted work fulfillment, but it wasn’t as large of a factor as making (or not making) meaningful progress.

The book is called the Progress Principle, and it’s definitely worth a read.