Motivation

What Motivates You to Work?

That paycheck will never be big enough if it's the only reason you're going to work.
What Motivates You to Work?
Image credit: AleksandarNakic | Getty Images
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Psychologist, Author, Speaker
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Each of us respond to different drives and motivations, but there are many drives we can choose from that not only make our careers more fruitful but also more enjoyable. Those people who experience the “Sunday Blues” are in careers which may provide security and certain freedoms, but they lack joy and fulfillment. Sunday comes around and many of us immediately begin dreading our work week; thereby, ruining the rest of their weekend for ourselves and those we are close with. There is no point in staying in careers that make us miserable. There is so much opportunity in the world. We have to find the correct motivations to go out and make these opportunities happen.

1. Money

Initially, the main thing we view as the most worthy motivating force inspiring us to work hard is money. Making money is a noble and necessary motivation which directs us into our careers and motivates us to stay in them. Money is a tool we all need for survival, but earning money also provides us with feelings of status, success and achievement. Money provides us the freedoms we crave in terms of the lifestyles we want to live. The one thing money doesn't’t bring is happiness, as we can see from the many well-known people in our society who appear to have it all, but the decisions they make clearly show us that money is far from the only motivation that drives us to work hard and to feel happy.

Related: Quitting My $97K Job Saved My Life

2. Purpose

To live a truly fulfilled life we need to have a sense of purpose. Those without purpose live with more depression and feelings of aimlessness than others. When we have purpose we feel directed and more certain about our lives and the directions in which we’re heading. Purpose brings us deeper feelings of security than money could ever offer because money comes and goes. While positions and or circumstances wax and wane creating uncomfortable uncertainties, having purpose keeps us moving forward motivated to reach our bigger picture. 

3. Making a difference

There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that what we contribute in this world makes a significant difference. There are many careers that provide us with the money we desire but that also may come along with a ton of unrewarding stress. Ultimately, we spend the majority of our time in our lives at work so we may as well find a way to make our career meaningful for ourselves and others. The greatest gift of working in careers which give back to our communities is the way it changes and impact our own lives. When we see that what we contribute makes a difference, it makes our careers and our purpose feel that much more rewarding. When we are inspired we are more motivated to get back to the grind each new day.

4. Responsibility

Our career may be stressful, but being irresponsible is even more stressful. When we are irresponsible we dig ourselves into holes that are impossible to get out of; whereas, when we have a solid career and sense of responsibility we trust we can pull ourselves out of just about anything financially. Scott Peck is his book The Road Less Traveled makes the point that there is no such thing as an irresponsible psychologically healthy person. Self-management brings personal development and self-actualization. Being responsible brings us to a sense of balance, feelings of success, motivation and self-trust.

Related: How a Near-Death Experience Inspired This Entrepreneur to Change Her Career and Plug Into Her Purpose

5. Challenge

We grow the most in our motivation when we are optimally challenged. Being in careers which feel like groundhog day every day do not provide enough challenge for us to make any new efforts or changes to our behavioral patterns around working hard. In his book Resilience navy seal Eric Grietens discusses how when we are optimally challenged it is natural for us to rise to the occasion. We want to see and prove that we can leap over whatever hurdles are placed in front of us to glean the satisfaction of having a win at the end game. These wins may be tough to come by and we may fail along our road of challenge, but this is exactly how we develop the resiliency that keeps us motivated and striving for what is next.

6. Community

The work environment, no matter the field we’re in, connects us with other people. Success is never a one-man-job. Being connected individually or to a team brings us into relationships that are meaningful and also to mutually satisfying goals to strive for. As humans we are designed for connection and communication. Community brings us a sense of belonging, the satisfying purpose of our role and increased communication, problem-solving and negotiation skills.

Related: 10 Ways Even Introverts Can Make Friends at Work

7. Acknowledgement

The greatest reward of all is acknowledgment. We all need, desire and want to be acknowledged when we have performed well and/or when we haven’t. The work environment is the one place that can motivate us from deep within. Acknowledgement can come in the form of a compliment, a raise, a promotion, club trips, bonuses, or support and encouragement. Personal growth and higher visions of what we’re capable of achieving cannot come without the all important ingredient of acknowledgment. Acknowledgment gives us something meaningful to work for or towards. in my book Success Equations: A Path to Living an Emotionally Wealthy Life I explain that acknowledgement is our yardstick for success.

8. Duty

Having a sense of duty, a place to go, things to accomplish and achieve is a great motivation. Having a sense of duty is necessary for the development of a strong identity. Having a career provides us an important role to fulfill that is backed by strong values. When we live our lives motivated by strong values we are given the opportunity to build and define our character. Having a sense of duty is what motivates us to be good to ourselves, honest in our approach to relationships and to develop a positive reputation. There is nothing that will speak more highly of us than our character and what we stand for.

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