I have maintained a personal blog (LifeinTECH) for approximately fifteen years.
Although publicly accessible, LifeinTECH is really for me. I find writing strengthens my memory and understanding, whilst serving as a location for personal reflection, allowing me to structure my thoughts.
This is evident when reviewing the 360+ blog posts, with the themes tracking my career from engineer to Chief Technology Office (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).
During this time I have written a few articles that specifically cover my career journey, as well as my rhythms and routines.
Recently, I have been reflecting on motivation. Looking to better understand what motivates me and how to ensure that I have the appropriate balance to support longevity.
When speaking with others, it is not uncommon for people to describe “happiness” as their desired outcome. I understand the sentiment of this statement, but believe it is misguided.
Personally, I seek satisfaction, which in my opinion is deeper than happiness, it is about purpose and fulfilment. For example, eating an ice cream can make me happy. However, achieving a hard-fought goal unlocks satisfaction.
Therefore, fully satisfying my potential, both personal and work, is ultimately how I measure my self-worth.
This leads me to a short list of motivators (the things that give me energy) and demotivators (things that take my energy), with the goal of better understanding and managing my emotional intelligence, hopefully setting myself up for success in daily life.
- Opportunities: Complex, high-impact situations, where I have accountability and autonomy to influence.
- Action: Situations where meaningful progress can be incrementally measured.
- Learning: Continuous self-improvement, covering academic, non-academic (emotional, creative, and metacognitive) and physical.
- Coaching: Supporting the growth of others, both personal and career.
- Inefficiency: Bureaucratic thinking that delays action without an objective reason.
- Negativity: Incessant complaining without action or when related to an uncontrollable/trivial situation.
- Commitment: Failing to meet achievable deadlines and/or expectations.
- Illogical: Decisions that defy logic or reasoning, contradicting empirical evidence without supporting context.
In short, I aim to prioritise the areas/traits that motivate me, whilst leading by example through my actions and behaviours.
It is not possible to completely avoid the demotivators. However, if I find myself in a situation where I or others are exhibiting these traits, I attempt to influence/shape the situation to a different outcome. With two small children, I have plenty of opportunities to practice these techniques.
In conclusion, if I were to summarise what motivates me, I would I would state:
“I do not seek happiness; I seek purpose and fulfilment. Accomplished through hard-fought goals by setting high standards, practising temperance, and embracing discomfort.”
This philosophy certainly takes inspiration from Stoic virtues and the state/concept of eudaimonia. I recognise this type of self-reflection can be perceived as pretentious and I caution against “over-thinking”, which can (in my experience) lead to some of the demotivating traits.
However, some metacognitive analysis can be valuable, helping to understand the reasons behind certain thoughts/emotions, hopefully leading to pragmatic steps that enable continuous improvement.