Since you can't have everything, knowing what motivates you – and how much – is absolutely essential for choosing the right career.

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Your motivations today are likely to stay true for several years, and are important to take into account as you think about your career. That being said, pursuing a job or career that you don't really enjoy simply because you want the reward is a strategy likely to lead to dissatisfaction (and to you not being very successful as a result). It is also important to keep in mind: some motivations are unlikely to change over time, some are likely to change as you get older, and others may change with changes in life circumstances.

You are most highly motivated by the reward you see below. A job that comes with very little of this reward is unlikely to be satisfying for long. You may be able to suffer through it for a while, and it may be worth it to suffer a bit if it is clear that after that initial period there will be a definite change. But, if this path will continue to offer very little of this reward for a substantial period of time, this should be a clear warning to you.

If security is a strong motivator for you, you can expect it to remain very stable (unless you were to win the lottery, or unexpectedly inherit a vast sum of money). However, the questions you have to answer for yourself are: "How secure do I need to be?" and "How can I best achieve that security?"

For you, the answer to achieving security may be to work in a highly stable industry that rarely, if ever, reduces its workforce. Another way to achieve security is to make yourself indispensable to your manager and to the organization itself. What does that mean? It means do a great job and don't "cost" your manager by being difficult to deal with.

Should you ever be in a situation where you need to look for another position, it would help your marketability to have developed some domain expertise. And finally, it is important to consider that some functional experience is highly transferable, and some is not. If you work in real estate development, you work in real estate development. If you are successful in sales, though, you can take that experience to other industries fairly easily.

For people who are not highly motivated by security, it is important to recognize this can be a highly unstable position. Going from being single, debt-free, and having a great job to being married, the parent of triplets, making mortgage payments, and unemployed, is likely to push your desire for security up the list pretty quickly.

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