According to the latest research in motivation science, what drives us is a combination of three types of motivators. In my opinion, the easiest to understand synthesis of resarch in this area is Daniel H. Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us.
No one has put my feelings on this subject into better words than Pink. He separates motivation into: Motivation 1.0 – basic human needs, Motivation 2.0 – the carrot and the stick, and what he dubs Motivation 3.0 – a desire to direct our own lives. Motivation 3.0 is made up of a combination of: