Most of us are motivated by reward, recognition, challenging work, being part of a winning team, a quest to take down an evil empire, that sort of thing. There are all sorts of reasons why people do what they do for a living.

At my age you don’t really indulge in that sort of introspection. I mean, what would be the point? The way I figure it, if you don’t know the formula by now you probably never will. And so on.

Since you’re hopefully nowhere near as old as I am, however, let me give you some free advice on motivation. I guarantee it’s worth every penny you paid for it.

Truth is, I have never known what motivates me. Seriously. I’ve just never thought about it before. So I’m going to make a go of it now.

Looking back, I can now see that it’s sort of equal parts my need to 1) prove myself (probably to my dad, RIP), 2) accomplish challenging things, and 3) provide for my family. Yup, that just about does it.

Why does that matter? It doesn’t. And that is the point.

People overanalyze themselves and everyone else these days. It’s a bizarre combination of narcissism and voyeurism, all wrapped up in one dysfunctional American psyche.

Strengths, weaknesses, all those stupid behavior assessment tools like DiSC, it’s all just a whole lot of self-indulgence made to look like organizational and personal development. Honestly, none of that stuff makes a difference.

My advice? Forgo the self-analysis and just get to work on what you’re passionate about. Let that be your guiding light. If that works, great. If not, then reassess, make some changes and try again. Rinse and repeat.

Don’t get me wrong. There will be the occasional brick to the head that makes you wonder what the hell you were thinking. When that happens, take a cold hard look in the mirror and pay attention to what you see. Those wake up calls can make all the difference.

Just don’t obsess over it.

Image credit Flood G. / Flickr