Identify What Motivates You At Work With 9 Simple Questions

Figuring out what motivates you at work can completely shift the amount of joy and fulfillment you find in your career. Job satisfaction can make you a happier person and a better employee, reduce stress, and positively impact your overall well-being.

It's unfortunate because many people spend most of their life grudging through work that they do not enjoy. However, career fulfillment is on people's radar today more than ever before.

As much as possible, it's important to find meaning in our work. What if your job provided more than just a paycheck? Discovering a sense of purpose in work contributes to improving mental health.

When employees, at any level, say that their work fulfills their purpose, the work and life outcomes they report are anywhere from two to five times higher than those reported by their unfulfilled peers. - mckinsey.com

Discovering what motivates you at work is worth the effort. Identifying what inspires you to bring your best to work every day can change the trajectory of your life, enhance your well-being, and shift your perspective concerning the purpose of a job.

 9 Clarifying Questions To Help Identify What Motivates You At Work

When considering career opportunities, it is common to consider surface-level motivations like pay, location, place of employment, objectives, and skills. However, honing in on what motivates you at work is a better strategy to ensure you find meaning, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose.

Meaningful work and job satisfaction are linked; having meaningful work predicts job satisfaction. People who found their work more meaningful were less likely to miss work than people who merely reported being satisfied with their jobs. Meaningful work was also correlated with life satisfaction and less depression. - apa.org

While most people share common goals of career satisfaction, work-life balance, and purpose - how different individuals experience these results is different.

The thing is, not everyone is motivated by the same things. Understanding your personality and the core motivations of your type can help radically transform your work and your connection with it.

If your work is in direct contrast to the natural motivations of your type, you will experience frustration, unrest, and a desire for change.

Using the Enneagram to identify your motivations can help you evaluate your career path, make necessary changes, and create alignment.

Below are nine questions that dig into each personality type's core motivations. Identifying which question you resonate with most can provide a foundation for establishing your career goals.

Factoring in the motives inherent to your personality can help you assess which types of roles complement your type.

To help you with this process, you can use The Enneagram Career Guide: an interactive workbook to help you overcome an unfulfilling career. Learn how to identify work you'll love and create a clear path toward purpose!

Question 1: Do You Thrive When You Have Freedom To Perfect, Correct, & Improve Outcomes Or Systems?

Enneagram Type Ones want to accomplish tasks in the best ways possible. They are motivated by a desire to be good and have a keen eye for detail. Ones naturally focus on improving quality with the ability to structure, organize, and prioritize effort efficiently.

Question 2: Is Work Most Fulfilling When You Have Freedom To Be Supportive, Give, And Connect Relationally?

Enneagram Type Twos desire to feel deeply appreciated; this translates into their work through generosity, servanthood, and relationship building. Twos excel in roles where they can use their warm and giving disposition to support, care, and respond to people-centered needs.

Question 3: Do You Feel Passionate About Work When You Have Freedom To Achieve And Experience Success?

Enneagram Type Threes long for admiration and place a high value on accomplishments. This type needs opportunities to exercise ambition and drive to produce positive results. Threes want a clearly defined vision to pursue and conquer. They enjoy working hard to achieve a goal and are capable of adapting to various scenarios.

Question 4: Is Work Most Enjoyable When You Have Freedom To Express Individuality And Creativity?

Enneagram Type Fours desire to be unique. Fours enjoy authentically sharing ideas to challenge others toward change. They are highly attuned to emotions and use this awareness to enhance vulnerability among peers. This type is creative and remains open to new ways of doing things.

Question 5: Do You Come Alive When You Have Freedom To Investigate, Develop, And Share New Ideas?

Enneagram Type Fives are curious people, motivated by a strong desire to be competent, knowledgeable, and inventive. Fives can sort through data, draw conclusions, and help solve complex problems. They are happy to explore ideas and become experts in specific fields.

Question 6: Do You Feel A Deep Sense Of Loyalty When You Have Freedom To Help Provide Stability And Safety To The Organization?

Enneagram Type Sixes are motivated by a desire for security. Sixes are highly-devoted people committed to their values and carry a deep sense of dutifulness. To avoid trouble or mishaps, they act to minimize threats, prepare, and gather information to help make the best decisions possible. Sixes add stability to a team, and enjoy being a trusted advisor.

Question 7: Are You Most Enthusiastic At Work When You Have Freedom To Have New Experiences And Network With People?

Enneagram Type Sevens want to live without restraints and remain open to new possibilities. Sevens thrive in optimistic environments and become energetic when sharing a vision or brainstorming new possibilities. This type loves being around people and being spontaneous.

Question 8: Do You Exel When You Have Freedom To Lead, Challenge Ideas, And Make Decisions?

Enneagram Type Eights are protective by nature and will use their leadership to fight against injustice. They are independent, assertive, and prefer to take charge. This type likes to move at a fast pace and focus on solutions that quickly resolve problems. Eights focus on driving change and getting things done.

Question 9: Is It Satisfying When You Have Freedom To Help Mediate Conflict, Resolve Problems, And Create Peace?

Enneagram Type Nines desire peace and to be in environments void of conflict, supportive of one another, and harmonious. Nines are patient, calm, and capable of understanding multiple perspectives. They have a knack for making others feel seen, heard, and accepted. This type thrives when uniting groups of people and connecting with others.

Experiencing fatigue, disengagement, or boredom in your career is deeply influenced by its connection to what motivates you at work.

Although you may be extremely good at your job, if it does not resonate with your inner-self, more than likely, your job is not satisfying. This disconnect is a significant contributor to anybody feeling unmotivated and uninspired. - careersindepth.com

Discovering what motivates you at work requires more than setting financial goals, assessing your skill sets, or believing in an organization's vision. Not to discredit any of those factors - they are all critical. Pinpointing the motivations associated with your personality is vital to experiencing career satisfaction and fulfillment.

6 Additional Tips For Discovering What Motivates You At Work:

  • Begin to consider that your work is more than a list of responsibilities; it's an opportunity to do meaningful work that is fulfilling to you and helps others.
  • Study the core motivations of your Enneagram Type.
  • Take the Enneagram Personality Test.
  • Use the motivations of each type to reveal connections between personality and career fulfillment.
  • Assess whether you gain energy with people or from being alone.
  • Evaluate if the vision and values of the organization of your current or potential employer align with your values.

Our work is a unique opportunity to provide value, help others, and experience joy. If you're unsure if you're in the right job or don't want to pursue the wrong one, click HERE to get the Enneagram Career Guide to help connect the dots between what motivates you and your work.

Evan Doyle

Evan is the founder of EnneagramGift.com - a site dedicated to helping people learn how to use the Enneagram to connect with others and reach their potential. Evan is a Type 5 and began working with the Enneagram in 2018. He is passionate about helping others lead with confidence and build dependable teams. Also, he's a family man with a wife, three sons, and a dog named Quicksilver.

Comments

Laine (not verified) says...

This is a great way to see the motivations of each type. I find that each time I do exercises like this I am a yes to 4 of them! I know though the more I investigate, one of them will finally stand out.

Evan Doyle says...

Hi Laine, you're right; exploring the motivations that you identify with is a helpful way of realizing your type. You can also explore the wings of each type to further nuance the unique expression of your personality. Also, if you can find panel discussions of a group of the same type, that can be helpful too. Hearing others describe what it's like to be their type is sometimes validating. 

Thanks for sharing!

Debrashawver says...

It is interesting to read the nine personality traits and their applications to the workplace. While I see the applications in many work situations and my enneagram type seems accurate, my analysis was really challenging to analyze in light of the actual work situation I held (I am recently retired.) My enneagram type traits were likely extremely useful in group planning sessions with adult staff, and with patiently helping learners reach their potential and conflict solving. I did encourage individual preferences to be heard in personal creations or with peer critiquing. However, in a performance oriented classroom environment, there is much more of an "autocratic directorship" in which individual desires, conflicts are not so much entertained as full group endeavors so we could reach a unified public performance goal.

Evan Doyle says...

Hi Debra! Thank you for sharing. I'm curious what is your enneagram type?

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