If you’ve ever heard: “Eight hours work, eight hours rest, eight hours play”, you’ll know we apparently spend at least half our waking hours working. But, for most, things don’t work out this way. Between commuting, deadlines, and staying connected, it often works out to a lot more.

So as humans, we’ve developed a better approach:
“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

All in all, a great mindset. And intrinsic motivation is based on solid theory. The concept that external rewards, whether they’re six-figure salaries or nap pods, fall flat in comparison to meaning.

How, then, do we know what matters?

Career Compass Coaching

Before Motivation, We Need Clarity

Clarity doesn’t necessarily mean a ten-year plan. It’s a powerful concept both for career-driven ladder climbers, and those who simply don’t find much meaning in their role. Clarity helps you understand where you are, what matters to you, and what really drives you. In one way, what makes you happy.

And clarity is empowering, especially when it comes to your career, and even if your current role suits you perfectly. It’s a good opportunity to look inside and become more attuned with your ambitions and desires, as well as your capabilities. Rather than assessing your best fit in terms of just what you can do, career coaching looks at what you want. Then, it uses this to guide what you could do.

Because let’s be honest—if we don’t know what drives us, we have only external incentives to orient ourselves.

Clarity Gives Purpose…

Understanding where we are, what we love, know, and are great at is useful in many situations. Both when you’re in control of your situation, and when other winds are blowing.

Say you’re already happy in your current job. Should you still try to get your bearings?

Being happy with your job is brilliant, so congratulations, for one. But it doesn’t mean you can’t grow, develop, or look further forward. Intrinsic motivation is about personal reward; it relates to deriving natural satisfaction or a feeling of accomplishment that comes from within.

Career coaching may not chart a new course for you, but it can be a valuable way to continue this development. Do you want to enhance your skills in a certain aspect of your role? Or do you want to improve something else that’s never been your strong suit? Do you simply want to update your skills?

Career Compass Direction

…And Direction

Nonetheless, change is inevitable. Sometimes we find ourselves either unsatisfied or facing the unexpected. In these situations, reflecting on your ambitions can be more than essential—it can be fun. When we’re given the chance to re-assess where we’re going, we have a chance to check back in with ourselves. To take back some power over where we’ve been going and make more informed decisions. About where we want to be, how we want to get there, and all the paths we might have overlooked along the way.

Check Back Regularly

I’m going to return to the idea of a ten-year plan for a moment, and admit it’s actually a terrifying prospect for most. Even a five-year plan is probably a little hard to warm to. First, it’s tough to shake the mindset that committing to one thing means giving up on your other options. Second, what if you get bored? Or what if your goals change? What if you no longer get a healthy dose of challenge from what you’re doing?

Even the best navigators need a compass, and quite often, it’s a good idea to check back with it. You may end up re-orienting, happily on course, or discovering a brand new path for your career. At every stage, you’ll come across new options, because of course, things change. So don’t worry too much about the ten-year plan, but it doesn’t hurt to check back in with yourself!

Learn more about our one-on-one, personalized Career Compass coaching tool – a compact and affordable tool for direction and clarity. Or, subscribe to our LinkedIn and ask me personally.

This post originally appeared on the Time To Grow Global blog.