The other day, a friend asked me if I had always known that I wanted to be a music therapist. The initial reaction is always “OF COURSE!” but that’s not 100% true. You can read about the actual store of my journey to music therapy-dom here.

But it got me to thinking: Why do we do the things we do? What motivates us to dedicate our lives to one particular thing?

There are lots of possibilities! Money, difficulty (or ease!), self-gratification, sense of worth, and a feeling of “purpose” are a few that come to mind initially. For me, my motivation breaks down to these 4 things:

Purpose. I’ll admit it, I am very mushy when I get to talking about the purpose of humanity, why we are here, etc. I’ve always felt that if I can’t help others, my purpose isn’t being fulfilled. I felt called from a young age to help make a difference in someone’s life, and that’s what I get to do now, every single day.

Self-Gratification. I love what I do. It makes me happy. I love that I do it with music, which makes me extra happy. Not only do I get to fulfill my purpose, but I get to do so while singing and dancing and playing instruments. How COOL! I come home exhausted at the end of the day and sleep like a baby because I am fulfilled.

Drive. I love a challenge. I’m driven to be successful at what I do, and to be the best I can.  I won’t lie, I’d love to one day be on the same level in my field as the people I admire. But, being a music therapist isn’t easy. It requires a lot of energy, a lot of thought and planning, a lot of knowledge, and a lot of flexibility. A 30 minute session can leave me drained or completely charged. I have the drive to do that every day until I am the best I can be, and then to get better.

Smiles. If money weren’t our currency, I think smiles would satisfy. The smiles I receive from my clients are enough to bowl me over with laughter, make me cry, set me at peace, or all of the above simultaneously.

It’s been a long time since I paused to break down exactly why I practice music therapy. It’s always been natural for me, but examining the specific motivators has helped me to feel even more confident in the knowledge that this is what I am meant to do.

Have you ever given thought to what motivates you to do what you do? This could apply to lots of things! Careers, family, even trips! I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.