Brazen or withheld? Heidi Grant Halvorson believes there are two types of work motivations.

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Two types of attitude to work, says Heidi Grant Halvorson, promotion and prevention focused

Knowing your motivation and working with it, not against, is key, she says

Both types can have successful careers and fulfilling personal lives

CNN  — 

Have you always been something of a risk-taker, or have you tried to avoid risks like the plague? Do you get uncomfortable with too much optimism or praise, or are you known for your sunny outlook?

The answer to these questions is remarkably simple, but powerful enough to change your life. In a nutshell, there are two ways to look at your goals.

Let’s start with a goal many of us share: “doing my job well.” For some of us, doing our jobs well is about the potential for advancement, achievement and rewards. It’s about what we might gain if we are successful. If you are someone who sees your goals this way, you have what’s called a promotion focus.

For the rest of us, doing our jobs well is about security – about not losing everything we’ve worked so hard for. When you are prevention focused, you want to avoid danger, fulfill your responsibilities, and be someone people can count on. You want to keep things running smoothly.

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What’s important to know is that promotion and prevention-focused people work very differently to reach the same goal. They use different strategies, have different strengths, and are prone to different kinds of mistakes.