A few days ago Ella & I started puppy kindergarten. Up to this point, I thought we’d worked out most of the kinks in our relationship, and that any problems were just the result of her beloved Shih Tzu stubbornness. 10 minutes later, I was starting to figure out that I was seriously mistaken. Sure, she’d come if you called her with a treat in your hand. Heck, she’d probably mow the lawn, wash your dishes and cook you dinner for the right bribe, but without it? Forget about it!

What I was just starting to realize was that I needed to understand what mattered to her, not to me. Yes, food was awesome (think of it as the equivalent of cash bonuses), but she was just as happy if I played with her (extra vacation, anyone?), praised her (awards & honours), or just simply acknowledged that she got it right. 

All of this got me thinking about motivation at work. In this Ted Talk from 2012, Dan Ariely explains how important meaning is to productivity and satisfaction. If you’re considering making a career move, start by asking yourself what you actually want from your next role. More money? More impact or control? More involvement in creative processes? Different work conditions? The things that are most important to you are what gives your work meaning, and makes you better, more engaged with whatever you do.

What’s at the top of your meaning list? Recognition? Working on projects you love? Money? Solving problems or overcoming challenges? Share your thoughts in the comments, or email me at cate@cmcoachingservices.com.