I have studied the topic of motivation and different internal or external drivers that move people forward in life.   For example, some people are motivated by money others strive for free time. I have struggled with the idea of goal setting for the past few years because (thanks to my husband for financially providing a comfortable life for me and my family) neither time nor money drive me to achieve. Some may say this is a very ‘spoiled’ scenario and to just ‘get over myself’. I may even recommend to someone else in this position to go and do voluntary work (make good use of your time and talents, give back to the community, help those who don’t have the luxurious lifestyle you have). All of that is reasonable, so why do so many women in my situation not want to or have the energy and inclination to do this?

I need a ‘purpose’

Recently I’ve been saying to anyone that will listen, that I need a ‘purpose’. My husband says he and the kids are my purpose (and adds that I’m doing a very good job!) Very sweet but now that they are teenagers and more independent, it’s not enough. But why? What is this drive for ‘meaning’ in my life? When I mention this some of my friends stare back, not sure what to say next because they are so busy that they don’t have time to think of anything other than what they are going to feed the kids that evening. Inside my head, with this dilemma in my heart, lack of direction and feeling a tad useless is quite a lonely place to be.

A Theory of what is behind the drive?

I recently had an insight whilst reading The Achieving Society, by David McClelland, (which was written before I was born). Through cognitive theory he highlights that for some people the thought of accomplishing tasks and advancing in their role is enough to make them jump out of bed in the morning, keen to tick off the next goal and get promotion. For others the feeling of authority, making an impact and gaining status is all it takes to get them up and running and for others like me their driver is affiliation. Which means the need to interact with others, to share, to promote teamwork and to be kind. My mum was like this. When Pakistani communities moved into Glasgow in the 1980s many locals avoided them, criticized their dress and the pungent smell of their food. Some deliberately avoided shopping at the local corner store owned by an Asian family. My mum was the opposite. She befriended everyone, she accepted everyone and she couldn’t understand why others weren’t the same. For some reason (unknown to her and I) her kindness was viewed as weakness.

Do and BE what you love

I have worked in Direct Sales. Some people can’t understand why anyone would be attracted to that industry.   I loved it. For me it was about being part of a team with a greater purpose. And that purpose was healthy eating.   I was known as the jar queen (every sauce I ever fed my family came out of a jar). I was never interested in cooking, in fact I saw it as a chore and the highlight of my week was when we bought a ‘take-away’.   When I was introduced to a machine that could knead bread dough in two minutes, make hollandaise sauce without any lumps and steam dumplings to perfection I saw it as a way to teach my teenagers to cook and train myself in using back to basics ingredients.

However, the part of the job that I loved the most was offering other women the opportunity to get back into the workplace, without a stern interview, a bachelor’s degree or travelling to the city everyday. I used my skills to help each of them build their confidence and earn a bit of extra money.

Unfortunately, as my main driver was affiliation, I was more interested in the people than the profit. I was more driven by team work than team sales.   My goals were more about associate retention than financial turn-over.

At the Branch Meeting, once every month, I felt demoralized as my lack of achievement showed in large numbers at the foot of the leader board. Some of the other Team Leaders thrived on setting goals for themselves and their team and enjoyed offering incentives to push everyone in that direction. It was incredible to watch. They had no comprehension of the affect their behavior/actions had on others. This amazed me.   I was eventually deemed ‘successful’ by my peers and boss but I knew months beforehand that Direct Sales was not where I would find my purpose or be fulfilled.

I was able to walk away from it all (the money, status, everything I had built and learned) with ease. Leaving my team was much harder. What I have learned from this is that there is no wrong or right, there’s just you. We are all different and that’s ok. It really pays to understand your personality and what drives you so you can move straight into an arena where you will thrive and have a positive affect on those around you.

Use your Drive to Thrive

I am now able to help guide my girls with their career choices. How many of us have ended up in jobs that we didn’t desire or love? Our internal driver can change depending on our circumstances, for example, I heard of a young man who wanted to become a doctor because he loved medicine and helping people. He achieved his goal and a number of years later was offered more money to move into a managerial role in a hospital. He knew this wouldn’t feed his internal motivation/driver but the extra money was an external incentive that swayed his head over his heart. We make these choices then wonder why we feel unfulfilled or even depressed.

I’ve learned that there are plenty of things I CAN do, but to be discerning about the things I really WANT to do!

Combination is KEY

This quote by Deepak Chopra resonates deeply with me, “when we combine our unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of goals.”

If you would like guidance in uncovering your true purpose give me a call.

Posted in Future, Goals, Purpose and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

Anne McKeown