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Motivation ≠ Money


But rather: 


Motivation = Money + Meaning + Creation + Recognition + Challenge + etc. 


Dan Ariely’s experiments disproved the common belief that we are only motivated to do things for money or other external rewards. There are many other simple, but powerful factors that often get overlooked. One example is the IKEA effect – by removing powdered eggs from the instant cake mix and requiring the consumer to put in more effort, they end up enjoying the cake more. 


At Duke, I enjoy my schoolwork when I get a good grade on it (aka positive feedback from my teachers). I like it when I finish an assignment after many hours of hard work. But I rarely enjoy the process. For my DukeEngage project, I enjoy both the journey and the products I create. The difference is that the work feels more meaningful. My motivation looks more like this:


Motivation = Meaning = Doing things that align with my values


A while back, I determined my main values are service, empathy, respect, responsibility, and integrity. When I am working on a school assignment, I feel like I am just doing it to get it done. I sometimes get frustrated that I spend so much time on something that isn’t contributing to the world. But, when I am working with my nonprofit foster care agency, I feel like I am living out my values.


Ariely believed it is crucial for employers to believe in the importance of meaning and to get to know what their employees care about. We don’t do things because they are easy, make us a lot of money, or even make us happy. We do things because they are meaningful to us.