While you should be prepared to answer this question in an interview, it’s even more important to answer it in your life. Most people don’t ask themselves why they work, or even why they get up in the morning. They do it just because almost everyone else does so. Besides, they probably need to earn money to pay bills and survive. But, ideally, you have pondered this question and identified a few sources of inspiration that motivate you to get you up in the morning and keep you moving forward both on the job and in your life.
In an interview
You definitely should give this issue some thought when preparing for your next job interview, as you may well be asked this open-ended question as a way for the interviewer get to know you and how you tick. You might answer with something like:
“First, a good cup of coffee! But beyond that, what gets me up in the morning is the ability to use my education and experience to help my clients and my firm achieve their goals. I truly enjoy the challenge of devising creative solutions to thorny legal problems. I like to work on something, see the result, and understand the impact it has on people, the business, and myself.”
These are some lofty and generic propositions, so you need to bolster this statement with concrete examples of what you’ve done in the past that aligns with your personal and the prospective employer’s goals and, specifically, with the position you’re seeking. This demonstrates why you’d be an asset to the firm, and shows that you’ve truly thought about your fit for the position and why you’re motivated to succeed there.
Outside the interview situation, especially now, this is a good question for you to ask yourself. As the pandemic drags on, and most lawyers are working from home, you might not remain tethered to the strict commuting schedule that previously got you out of bed and into the office at a specific time each day. Without that externally enforced discipline, you might be tempted to stay snuggled in your warm, cozy bed just a little bit longer each morning. So, what inspires you to get out of bed and get moving? You need to identify what motivates you both personally and professionally. What’s your passion and what makes it all worth it?
Often, inspiration is found in something that goes beyond one’s individual life. Many people find purpose in seeking to make a positive impact on the world somehow, possibly by helping other people grow and thrive. Others are inspired by the challenge of finding something new to explore, learn, or experience. Perhaps less lofty and more practical motivations are a sense of responsibility to your team at work, or the need to care for your family or pets. What’s worth getting out of bed to accomplish?
Lucky people wake up in the morning because they see every single day as the gift of a fresh start and are excited for whatever the day may bring. Many of us learned during this pandemic is that life is unpredictable. We don’t know how much time we have left on this Earth, so we should strive to enjoy every moment and make every last second count. That, in itself, may get you out of bed in the morning.
Putting it together
Once you identify one or more sources of personal motivation, you can take it one step further and look for how that can inspire your work or become the purpose of your business in the larger community.
For example, as a legal search consultant, I like hearing people’s stories about their career histories, hopes, and dreams and helping them progress towards their goals. I like to think that, by making the right match between lawyer and position, I make people’s lives better. In fact, I’ve even had former candidates’ family members thank me for making a positive change in all their lives. At the same time, I get satisfaction from helping my clients— law firms, corporate legal departments, governmental entities, and non-profits—find the lawyers they need for strategic growth which, in turn, makes for a stronger legal community.
As a lawyer, you might find similar inspiration in helping your clients achieve their objectives, or by facilitating changes that improve the lives of groups of people or protect the environment, or – fill in the blank.
I have synthesized my overall inspiration as follows: I want to live my life fully and make the world a better place. That’s my motivation to get out of bed in the morning and get to work.