Tuesday, May 5, 2015

16: Pursue Your Passions: Career Choice; The Distinctions Between Motivators and Incentives

“The worst days of those who enjoy what they do, are better than the best days of those who don't.” - E. James Rohn

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” - Albert Schweitzer

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” – Buddha

Career happiness involves doing what you love.
Career success is excelling at doing what you love.

Everyone has passions, often many.  One of the beautiful things about college is that it provides you with the opportunity to explore and find areas of interest that you are truly passionate about.
This post is all about determining the long-term goals in your life – the ones that really matter. Discover what you are truly passionate about. This, in turn, assists you to make better decisions about your choice of major, your career, and which pathways to pursue in life. But this section is also about learning how to pursue those goals – not with a mindless devotion to achievement of the goals, but also by treasuring the journey along the way. In essence, you should venture down the path, toward the desired goals, with a positive attitude each and every day; this in turn will make achievement of the goals far more likely.
Assignment #1: “The Five-Year Question.” To assist you in uncovering your long-term goals and passions, ask yourself this question:
If a physician told you that you have five to six years to live, but during that time you will be as healthy are you are now until suddenly you pass away without pain, what would you like to do or accomplish during that time so that, at the end of your life, you have no regrets?
Write your answers in your journal. Be specific. For example, if you desire to travel, exactly where to and how would you travel? With whom? If you desire to spend more time with family and friends, what specific activities would you do? If you desire to volunteer for a charitable cause, what charity would you benefit, how would you volunteer, and how much time would you spend on that activity? If you desire to pursue an art, craft, learn a skill, or pursue any other form of education, where would you do it and how much time would you spend doing it?
If you have children, answer the question but assume that your children are grown, self-sufficient, and capable. Make the focus of the second answer on you and what you desire to accomplish for yourself, even if this feels a bit “greedy.”
Assignment #2: Identifying Ideal Jobs. Pursuit of your passions is not just about undertaking personal activities, but also involves pursuing a career that you love.  Next, ask yourself these questions:
  • “What is your ideal last job, before you retire?"
  • “What is your ideal job, ten years from now?”
  • “How will you lead your life in a way in which you are happy and successful”?

Write your answers to these questions in your journal.
But before you begin writing, read the following on the distinctions between motivators and incentives. The insights you gain may well influence your answers to these questions.
What truly motivates us in life? In How Will You Measure Your Life, author Clayton Christensen explores the types of satisfaction we can find in careers. This may have important implications for your choice of career.
Four Possible Career Quadrants You Can Land In.  If I were to paraphrase and re-organize the author’s thoughts, there are four possible career results which can follow:

Low Incentives
High Incentives
highly motivated and lack of one or more incentives
highly motivated and  incentives present
poorly motivated and lack of one or more incentives
poor motivation and  incentives present

Key to understanding the chart above is to understand the differences in what spurs on our happiness as we go through life and various careers.
“Incentives” are those elements of work which, if not present, can cause us to be dissatisfied. These elements (called “hygiene factors” in Christensen’s book) include:
  • adequate and fair compensation;
  • job security;
  • status;
  • work conditions;
  • company policies; and
  • supervisory practices.

Yet, realize, that it is the absence of any one or more of this factors which lead to job and career dissatisfaction. Even if these factors are present, it does not mean that you will love your job; you just will not hate your job.
“Motivators” are the things which will truly, deeply satisfy us in our careers.  Motivation factors include:
  • challenging work;
  • recognition;
  • responsibility; and
  • personal growth.

In essence, these factors lead to the feeling that you are making a meaningful contribution to your work. Motivation “is much less about external prodding or stimulation, and much more about what’s inside of you, and inside of your work.” [Christiensen, Kindle edition p.34.]
Career Paths and Jobs Focused on Incentives. Many persons choose career paths, and particular jobs, based on incentives as the primary criteria. For example, they seek out a high-paying job and/or a career path leading to high pay in the future.
There is nothing wrong with this approach. It’s just that – if you pursue a career only for purposes of making an excellent salary – chances are that you will not be doing “something important” or “something you really love.”
Some persons pursue jobs with high incentives (such as high compensation) first, believing that they will later – after financial security is achieved – turn to a different job (or career) that they love. Unfortunately, changing careers in this fashion rarely occurs, as higher pay usually leads to adopting a lifestyle which is difficult to give up. The result is that many highly compensated individuals work in jobs with low motivation factors – and they are dissatisfied.
(Although Alfred State’s business professors may be among the exception – for many, having been highly compensated in their business careers, they chose to eschew continued high compensation in order to turn to their love of teaching.)
Career Paths and Jobs Focused on Motivators.  By contrast, other persons purposely forego jobs or career paths which promise higher levels of compensation or status in order to pursue careers in which motivation factors are present. For example, many persons pursue careers in the military – not for the high level of compensation, but rather because they believe they are making a real difference in the world. Similarly, many individuals work for nonprofit corporations, rather than for-profit corporations, for the same reasons.
In other words, if you love your job – even if you are not making piles of money – you are going to be immensely satisfied.
Can You Have It Both Ways – Incentives PLUS Motivation Factors? Are there jobs, or career paths, in which the ideal exists – not only are you highly incentivized (compensation, status, job security, and good company policies), but they also are in a career in which they find the work is challenging, they are provided with great levels of responsibility, they are encouraged to grow, and (for some) they believe that the work they are doing is “making a difference.”
Yes, such jobs do exist out there. That’s the upper right quadrant of the chart, above.
Assignment #3: Understand How to Enjoy the Journey. 
How you pursue these goals is as important – if not more so – than whether the goals are accomplished. For to truly appreciate life you should “live in the present” – be thankful for who you are and what you have already accomplished. While it is important to possess goals and aspirations, it is equally important for you to realize that “happiness” is not necessarily tied to the accomplishment of any particular goal. Realize that happiness – and a positive attitude – can contribute to, and lead to, success.
View this Ted Talks video: Shawn Achor: “The happy secret to better work” http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work (12:21).
As set forth in the video by Shawn Achor, discover “The Happiness Advantage” and its major benefits:
  • Better health.
  • More productive.
  • Greater social connections.
  • Less stress.
Next, if you find yourself concerned about your direction in life, consider asking for assistance. Your college has a career center and within it are a number of personality tests you can take. Your personality often drives your interests and passions. More importantly, the career counselors are trained in how to interpret the results of those tests and to guide you in considering career choices.
If you desire to take a free version of the ever-popular “Myers-Briggs” test online without professional assistance, visit http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp.  Simply complete the test and the result will be provided to you.  (There is no charge for this online test.) 
Then, learn more about the typology which results (such as “ISTJ” or “ENFP”) from your Myers-Briggs assessment. Simply type your typology into a browser search window, and you’ll find many articles that describe that typology. Write a summary of what you learn about yourself in your journal.
Lastly, find some quiet time and peruse a college catalog. See which courses naturally interest you. Ask yourself, what would you study if you could do it all over? And also ask, what courses do you think you could teach, or would want to teach? If money were no object, how would you desire to further your education? Write your answers to all of these questions in your journal.
Dr. Ron A. Rhoades is an Asst. Professor of Finance at Western Kentucky University's Gordon Ford College of Business, where he chairs the (B.S. Finance) Financial Planning Program. An innovative, passionate teacher, he is the author of Choose to Succeed in College and in Life: Continously Improve, Persevere, and Enjoy the Journey (2014)from which many of these blog posts are derived.

Dr. Rhoades also serves as a consultant to the Garrett Planning Network, a nationwide network of independent, Fee-Only financial planners making competent, objective financial advice accessible to all people. He is the author of several books, dozens of articles, and he is a frequent speaker at financial planning and investments conferences. He is the recipient of many awards for his advocacy on behalf of the fiduciary standard. Dr. Rhoades is also a member of The Florida Bar, and he practices estate planning and transfer taxation for select current clients.

Dr. Rhoades and his wife, Cathy, reside in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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