Do your goals motivate you?

1 min read

Throughout the year, we’ve been posting about factors that build a company’s culture and motivate people to perform at their best. Hopefully, you’ve read the posts on play and purpose and they resonated with you. In this post, we discuss a third motivator, what Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor in their book Primed to Perform call potential.


The third direct motivating factor to high-performing cultures is potential. While play and purpose speak directly to the work itself and why you do it, potential takes it a step farther: to a second order outcome that aligns with your beliefs and values. You do the work because it will eventually lead to something you believe is important, such as a personal goal. This motivator is seen best in roles that are noted as “stepping stones”—those which allow the individual to provide a service and grow while also bringing them a step closer to achieving a goal that is part of their own life plan. In these roles, the ultimate outcome you are striving for may be a bit further along in your journey, but the work you do now provides the possibilities down the road.

Doshi and McGregor use the example of working as a paralegal to help you get into law school. Although you may not enjoy the day-to-day work of filing briefs (no play motive), and you may not care about helping the kinds of clients your firm represents (no purpose motive), you continue to do the job because you want to be a public defender one day. You are working to bring about a second order outcome that you do believe in.

Without clear goals, potential can be subtle and hard to see in the moment. Thus, combining play, purpose, and potential at work can be more powerful than focusing on just one. When utilized together, they can create a culture of engagement and high performance and increase individual satisfaction.

As you look toward 2019 and your goals, think about these questions to maximize your potential and increase your performance:

  • What potential are you hoping to achieve?
  • How can you grow/develop in a way that is meaningful to you?
  • Is there a way to integrate your potential goals with play and purpose to ignite inspiration and create the ultimate motivation for yourself?
Claudine Hughes Claudine specializes in organizational strategy and development for federal organizations. She leads HWC’s performance advising initiative, collaborating with staff across the company to support play, purpose, and potential for everyone. Claudine loves working to support people and culture, two things she prizes about life at HWC.