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Work Motivation

Work Motivation is an individual’s view of work as being personally beneficial. For an individual with mental health conditions, they may: 

  • Express ambivalence towards their work future 

  • Identify the objective benefits of meaningful work 

  • Desire feedback on their work trajectory and difficulties 

  • Worry that work can never be personally enjoyable 

  • Appreciate the freedom to make decisions about their work life 

  • Worry that they will make mistakes if they pursue a career future 

  • Find it challenging to set career goals 

  • Expect that their work-related efforts will not yield the outcome they desire 

  • Express doubts that the risk of working is not worthwhile 

  • Feel helpless, on occasion, when faced with systemic barriers 

  • Find it hard to make independent decisions around their career 

Based on the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) and Psychology of Working Theory (PWT; Duffy et al, 2016), an individual can improve their Work Motivation by setting clear personal goals, having expectations that their work efforts will yield a positive outcome, experience hope and optimism in the presence of setbacks, and view work as a source of meaning, connection, and growth.  

In CPF, the areas that individuals can work on are identified as Personal Goals, Outcome Expectations, Work Hope, and Motivation.

You can assess your Work Motivation by taking the Career Advancement Inventory. Descriptions of each stage and related resources are provided below

Resources for Improving Work Motivation

Career Detachment (3-5)

People who responded similarly may not wish to pursue a work or school change in the near future.  

  • They have difficulty seeing how work could play a meaningful role in their lives.  

  • They deeply value the freedom to make independent decisions about work or school. 

  • They have little hope that a sustainable work life could be a reality for them.  

  • They expect that making efforts to change their work or school situation would not be worthwhile. 

Career Consideration (6-8)

People who responded similarly are considering a work or school change.  

  • They sometimes see how work could play a meaningful role in their lives.  

  • They deeply value their freedom to make their own decisions about work or school. 

  • They have begun to hope that a better work life could be a reality for them.  

  • They worry that making efforts to change their work or school situation would not be worthwhile.  

Career Exploration (9-11)

People who responded similarly are pursuing a work change. 

  • They see work as a potential source of meaning in their lives. They imagine work could be enjoyable and an important source of social connection.  

  • Even in the face of obstacles and setbacks, they feel that building a work life may not be as hopeless as it once seemed.  

  • They have a newfound sense of determination to achieve their work goals despite barriers.  

  • They have mixed expectations as to whether exploring work will lead to satisfying outcomes.  

Career Choice & Preparation (12-13)

People who responded similarly have been pursuing a work change for some time.  

  • They see work or school as a meaningful part of their lives.  

  • Their expanded sense of career options helps them to feel mostly hopeful about their work future.  

  • They expect their efforts in work or school will result in increased satisfaction, success, and well-being.  

  • Unaddressed fears about the risks involved in pursuing a career and about personal limitations related to their mental health may become a barrier to progress.  

Career Establishment & Maintenance (14-15)

Individuals who scored similarly have made significant work changes.  

  • They see work as a very meaningful part of their lives. 

  • Given their knowledge that they have career options, even in the face of obstacles and potential mental health setbacks, they maintain a hope for a bright future.  

  • Having already achieved many career goals they have set for themselves, they expect future work efforts will continue to result in a sense of satisfaction, success, and well-being. At the same time, individuals at this level of motivation have invested more of themselves and feel there is more at stake.  

  • Fears occasionally resurface about the risks involved in pursuing a career and about their personal limitations related to their mental health situation.