In my role as a career coach, I often meet people who feel they are “stuck in a rut” in relation to their career. They may have been passed over for promotion, or are in a job where they feel they are not valued. In a recent survey, 79% of people who quit their jobs cite lack of appreciation as their main reason for leaving.

Before you start looking elsewhere, you should first examine what opportunities exist in your present work place. What are your career options? Are there opportunities to volunteer for a new role? Or start on an innovative project?

January is great time for reflection and reimagining. It’s amazing what can happen with a positive mindset and powerful goals.

Hierarcy of Needs

What motivates us to start this new journey of discovery though?

In the 1950s, Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist, came up with a model called the Hierarchy of Needs to explain what motivates people. His findings are still relevant today when finding happiness and fulfilment at work.

We start at the base of the pyramid, where the focus is on our basic needs, right up to the apex, which is about the necessity of having a purpose and meaning in life (and at work).

1 Physiological

The model suggests our most fundamental need is for food and water, shelter and warmth. Today, many of us take these basic needs for granted and our work generally provides the pay and conditions to meet our basic needs.

2 Safety

2020 challenged our confidence in the basic human need for safety and security. Many people are especially anxious now with the pandemic. Research has shown that job security is most important at times like these. People on short-term employment contracts feel especially vulnerable. Our happiness at work is strongly linked to our psychological safety – how safe we feel.

3 Belonging

Work brings people together. This social interaction is important for our wellbeing. In positive working environments where you feel valued, you will thrive. Good health and wellbeing is core to employee engagement and organisational performance. We feel good when we interact with people and when we collaborate with colleagues on a project.

This sense of belonging is the single biggest thing people miss with remote working. It also leaves a void in our lives when we retire.

Most people seek nourishing relationships at work and this has to be a key factor in deciding where would be a good place to work for you.

4 Self Esteem

Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves. To be at our best every day, we need to value ourselves and feel competent in what we do.

Achievement and mastering skills are a big motivator. Status and recognition are important to us. We like to be respected for our expertise. Opportunities for learning and development should rank high in your search for a good career.

5 Self-Actualisation

At the top of the pyramid is self-actualisation – the need for purpose and meaning in our lives, where we can choose to do the things that we love doing, where we can set and achieve our goals.

Today, we increasingly look for purpose and meaning in our careers. Career progression opportunities are important, to continue exploring new challenges, new projects and setting new goals. Indeed, this is especially important this January, as we prepare for new progressive challenges and brighter days ahead.

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