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What Motivates You?

As a life-long student of personal development, I've attended dozens of motivational seminars, listened to hundreds of tapes, and read untold books on the subject of motivation . I've presented motivational seminars. And yet there is one elemental truth that seems often overlooked. That is: no one can motivate you, because you have to do it to yourself. It's an inside job. And frankly it's less a function of "doing" than it is of discovering what your natural motivators are. So the key to getting and staying motivated is finding out what excites you. What makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning? What speaks to your heart as well as your head?

Is it the thought of being able to call your own shots as an independent business owner? Perhaps you get excited about the idea of helping people design systems of whatever kind to help them work more effectively and effortlessly. Maybe you hunger for an opportunity to speak to others in a way that inspires and lights their internal fires. Or perhaps being part of a team of people, working together to make great things happen, is what makes your heart beat faster. It could be that you love variety and any environment that generates it.

If your basic needs were met and your mind could freely roam where it chose, what subjects would naturally bubble to the surface? What things naturally generate a sense of energy and ease? What is as natural to you as "falling off a log?" These are questions that begin to tap the root of what motivates you.

In a recent conversation with a prospective client she told me she was thinking of getting out of her current profession as a self-employed professional organizer. As we talked she discovered that what she was really looking for was the opportunity to team up and partner with others to stimulate her creative juices and generate more business. It didn't mean going back to work for someone else, although that was one option. Rather it was about transforming her idea of the ideal business environment for her. By the end of the call she had a renewed sense of possibility about her career. And she had definitely decided that going back to work for someone else, although "simple" in some respects, would not actually lead her where she wanted to go.

In this day and age when jobs and businesses are changing faster than ever before, when they "keep moving the cheese" (read Who Moved My Cheese? for the full explanation), those who create success for themselves will be those who find out what motivates them and follow that path. It may not mean being your own boss, but even if you work for someone else, it means finding that place where you can most readily apply your innate gifts and talents and use your internal motivational fire to serve others. Once you know what motivates you, your career options are infinitely clearer.

There are many tools and assessments in the marketplace today that can assist you in discovering where your natural motivations lie. Contact me if you'd like more information on those I offer. Or simply begin to pay attention to what gets you excited. Make a list of the things you most love doing and the environments you most enjoy working in. As you connect the dots, a new picture of your own motivators will emerge. And along with them, a renewed sense of the possibilities of "following your bliss". This week, sit with the question, "What motivates me?" And listen closely for what comes up. You may be surprised.

Betty Mahalik has been coaching small business owners, independent professionals and leaders who want to achieve more but stress less, since 1996. Her background includes several years in the broadcasting and public relations fields prior to starting her own firm in 1987. She is an accomplished public speaker and corporate trainer specializing in communications, goal-setting and leveraging your strengths. Since 2001, she has written a weekly motivational message, free to subscribers, titled Monday Morning Coach. To subscribe or learn more about Betty's coaching and training services, visit


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