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Competence motivation is the desire to constantly learn and become better at something. People with high competence motivation are constantly trying to improve their skills, learn new things, and find opportunities to grow as a person. They aren’t afraid of challenges or new tasks that might be difficult; they seek them out because it’s in those moments where we discover more about ourselves as individuals and grow as a result. Understanding how you feel about different aspects of your job can help you understand your own level of competence motivation. The five components of competence motivation – task value, performance standards, threat-related triggers, learning opportunities, and risk taking – are all essential elements that can help you figure out how motivated you are in your current job or any other roles you may want to explore in the future.
Task value is your sense of how useful a specific job is. While it is important to note that not all jobs are inherently “good” or “bad,” deciphering your personal task value can help you understand why you may be enjoying or struggling with a certain job. If a specific job doesn’t really seem to be useful for anyone, it can lead to feelings of boredom and a lack of motivation. Task value can be subjective, but there are a few ways you can try to gauge your own sense of task value.
You can ask yourself questions like: Why do I think this job is important? What goals does it help me accomplish? Why is this important to me? What difference does this job make in the world? If you are having trouble getting a concrete sense of your personal task value, try writing down your thoughts and feelings.
Performance standards are your personal expectations for what level of performance is appropriate in a job. Because every situation, person, and skill is different, there are no hard-and-fast rules for what performance standards should be; they are entirely subjective. You can probably think of a time when you felt a strong desire to live up to expectations. Maybe your boss asked you to complete a new project and you felt a sense of urgency to complete it as quickly as possible. This feeling is likely a result of your desire to meet the expectations that you set for yourself.
Ask yourself the following questions to help gauge your performance standards: What was my last performance review like? What did my supervisor say I need to improve on? What are my strengths as an employee? What are my weaknesses? Do I feel like I am meeting the expectations of my job? If you are having trouble answering these questions, talking with a supervisor or colleague may be helpful.
Threat-related triggers are negative emotions associated with your job. While some people experience these emotions when they are bored or feel like they aren’t meeting expectations, others only feel them when they are at work. These feelings can come from any number of sources – your job may be too difficult, it may not be challenging you enough, or it may be putting you in situations that make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
Ask yourself the following questions to help determine if you experience threat-related triggers at work: What makes me feel angry or frustrated at work? How do I react when my job is making me feel overwhelmed? What situations make me feel unsafe or uncomfortable? When was the last time I felt challenged by my job? What parts of my job make me feel bored or unmotivated? If you are having trouble identifying any threat-related triggers, keeping a journal or taking some time to yourself may be helpful.
Learning opportunities are the positive feelings you experience when you are being challenged and growing at the same time. People who have high competence motivation enjoy feeling like they are constantly growing and are always looking for new opportunities to learn more. If you have a hard time finding learning opportunities in your current job, it may be helpful to examine why. Most problems with learning opportunities occur when people set their own limits for what they are capable of. If you feel like you’re not being challenged enough at work, it’s important to recognize that it’s likely not your employer’s fault – it’s probably your own. Finding ways to actively challenge yourself, like volunteering for extra projects or pursuing a side hustle, can help you find the learning opportunities you crave.
Risk taking is how likely you are to take on challenging but rewarding opportunities. While some people are happy to keep their lives and careers very safe, others thrive on risk and actively look for ways to make their lives more exciting. If you are someone who thrives on risk, you may be more likely to change jobs or try new things, like a new hobby or extracurricular activity, or you may be more likely to ask for a promotion at work. While risk taking can be a very positive quality, it can also be dangerous for some people. Make sure you are aware of the risks associated with the things you choose to do – like changing jobs too quickly or leaping into a new hobby without proper training – and take responsibility for managing those risks.
Competence motivation is the desire to constantly improve and master new skills. People with high competence motivation are always looking for new challenges and opportunities to learn more. If a job isn’t providing these things, it can be very difficult to stay motivated. The five components of competence motivation are task value, performance standards, threat-related triggers, learning opportunities, and risk taking. These all help you determine how motivated you are in your current job or any other roles you may want to explore in the future.