Yesterday Nelson asked me what exactly motivates me to do what I do every day. A loaded question that made me think for a bit.
I gave him what in retrospect seems like a 75%-complete answer. I also realize that I've never asked myself this same question, or at least, I've never really thought about what the actual answer is.
It seems like a great exercise, and I plan to do a couple of things from now on:
Ask myself this question on a regular basis. I want to make sure I'm spending my time appropriately, and my motives make me feel proud of who I am and what I do.
Ask the people around me this question and learn from what makes them wake up every day.
And with a little bit more time to think about it, here is what I think it is a complete answer to what motivates me:
First, I'm doing what I love: I'm helping push the industry forward by making computers do what seems magical for a lot of people that use them. Here "magical" doesn't necessarily mean extraordinary, but instead delightful and extremely useful. I enjoy telling people how my work affects their life. It makes me proud, and all those hours, and work, and sweat seem worth every penny.
Second, my contributions are squarely focused on what I enjoy the most: solving hard problems. Things that you can't simply find by searching the web or reading a book, things that stretch me to enormous lengths, things that make me extraordinarily uncomfortable. Overcoming these challenges is a powerful motivator.
Finally, I get to provide for my family by doing what I love. They say happiness is finding what you love and doing it every day. If on top of that, you also find somebody that's willing to pay you generously for this, even better.
I think this is it. I'll review this back from time to time.
By the way, what motivates you?