What motivates you to get up and work each day? The answer to this question can help you refine your personal brand and position yourself in work that meets your needs. There are many reasons for working.

Financial Needs/Wants are reasons for working

The obvious reason for working is to make money. Work provides you with the necessary basic income to survive. As your expectations rise, a basic income may no longer seem sufficient, especially if you value status, prestige, and power.

When looking at the economics of work, it is important to consider your personal values. Do you have a concern for the environment and feel a need to conserve resources? Do you value being thrifty and saving money? If so, you may want to generate less income and lower your spending.

Everyone positions himself or herself somewhere on the balance between income and spending. Are you driven to compete, achieve, advance, and influence? Do you value security? These values can promote a career path focused on making more income.

Many additional factors affect your bottom line. Maybe you have people who depend on your income or perhaps you are single, debt free, living footloose and fancy-free. What are your short and long term financial goals? How much to you value material items? Are you willing to find alternative ways to do the things you enjoy while spending less or do you prefer to indulge in luxuries?

There is no ideal place in this balance of generating and spending income, other than being in the position of spending less than you make, otherwise your lifestyle is not sustainable. When creating your personal brand the key is to figure out your relationship with income and spending and define your brand accordingly.

Personal Satisfaction is a reason for working

A second basic reason for working is intrinsic rewards. That is, the work itself provides you with a means to meet some personal need. You may find personal satisfaction in creativity, independence, intellectual challenge, flexibility, achieving results, self-expression, learning, variety, or physical activity.

Which combinations of these intrinsic rewards are important for you in your work? Do you value creativity and self-expression, wanting your brand to reflect your ideas or unique products? Or do you value independence and variety, wanting to engage in new and different activities as you work? Perhaps you value and are skilled at efficiently achieving results through using physical skills.

You may value a certain kind of lifestyle. Some people seek adventure, action, and travel. Others seek stability and routine. Still others seek to express and share their spirituality or philosophy through their work. Whatever your personal values are, express them in your brand.

Social Connections are a reason for working

A third basic reason for working is social connection. Work provides social connections and interactions as well as opportunities to help others. Are belonging, community service, parenting, socializing, contributing, helping, and collaborating high on your list of important social values? If so, how are you communicating this to others?

You may want to consider the needs of significant people in your life when defining your ideal work. For example, it may be important to fit your work into other family members’ schedules, or your family circumstances may influence the hours or locations where you work.

Consider your financial, personal, and social reasons for working and use this information to refine your personal brand and create a vision of why you work.


Donna Dunning, PhD, is a psychologist, certified teacher, member of the MBTI ® International Training Faculty, and director of Dunning Consulting Inc. She is the author of more than a dozen publications, including her two newest books, 10 Career Essentials and What’s Your Type of Career? 2nd edition. Donna’s guiding principle is: Know yourself, respect differences, learn and grow. Follow Donna on Twitter and Facebook and visit her website.