What motivates you to get up and go to work everyday? If your answer is, “Well, mostly I need the paycheck,” it’s time to find a deeper connection to what you do each day—or you run the risk of burning out. In fact, recent research shows that the number one work motivator is not financial incentive; it’s feeling that our work is appreciated, respected, and progressing every day toward a meaningful goal. One way to do this: craft an inner mission statement to help you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Companies use mission statements to align, inspire, and inform their team and their clients. We believe that individuals need them, too. Having an inner mission statement can help you maintain clarity and connection with your work and your job and your overall purpose. Feeling like your contributions are valuable and worthwhile builds a profound resilience that can see you through challenges, such as tight deadlines, changes in leadership, and tough customers. It also helps you give it your all when you have the chance to do great work.
You cultivate this inner mission by bringing your values and goals to the surface, and then connecting them to what you do each day. Here are four questions to help you get started, plus one action to take right now.
1. Why do you do the work you do?
Yes, pay and benefits are crucially important. But why you were drawn to this work in the first place? What tasks suit you and what contributions are you able to make? When do you feel like you are serving a greater good?
Maybe this feels like a stretch, especially if you’re not in your dream job or have the ideal role. But even if you don’t intend to do this job forever, there’s something you bring to the table that is unique to you. What is that thing? Perhaps you’re a good listener, great at presenting new ideas, incredibly focused and productive, or you put people at ease.
2. How do you define success?
What do you wish to achieve and to experience in this job, or over the course of your working life? What would make you feel like you had succeeded? What, at the end of a long day, are you most proud of?
Read more on how your success depends on your resilience.
3. How does your family inspire you?
For many people, their family is a major source of motivation. The connection and drive to support the people we love can change the tenor of a job, goal, or lifestyle. Whether you have children of your own or are tending to aging parents, what about that relationship matters to you, and how does it inspire your efforts? How does your work help you meet the goals you have for your family?
4. How can you connect your work to your community?
The more you hold goals beyond yourself and your circle of loved ones, the more powerfully connected you are to a sense of meaning and mission. “Our research has shown that connection to community increases life satisfaction and builds greater resilience,” says Dr. Andrew Shatte, meQuilibrium’s Chief Science Officer. “It’s a crucial piece in the resilience and stress management puzzle.” So think big: Is there a problem in your community that you want to fix? Is there a way to start that work at your current job?
Read more on how we thrive by building connections and community.
Make your mission real.
Here’s an example of what an inner mission statement can look like:
On family: I know that my time is the most important gift I can give my children and so family time must be scheduled first each week. When I’m home, I will do my best to be fully present in each moment.
At work: I will take on every project with intelligence, a strong work ethic, a can-do attitude, and a sense of purpose.
On life goals: In my community, I want to make sure kids have safe places to play. I will put time aside each month to build community support for clean, well-built playgrounds in town.
Now, list the activities that you know bring your mission statement to life. To help, think of when you feel most connected to your values. What work are you doing in this case? Who are you with? What projects or outcomes resonate most strongly with those values?
It might take some time to link what you care about to what you do—or maybe you’ll see those connections right away! Either way, you’ll feel more purposeful about how you spend your time, with a confidence and resilience to help you soar.