What makes us WANT to go to work?

Another Monday on our hands. Another week of annoyingly exhausting work upon us. Sigh. Why are some workdays worse than others? Sometimes we are able to draw from reservoirs of pure and unadulterated energy that replenish us. On some work days we find a quiet satisfaction in our souls. As if our tired souls were dunked into springs of vitality, like oreos in milk. What makes some workdays fantastic?

What is this magic phenomenon you ask? Good question! Interestingly, money only takes us so far. Overwhelming research on this subject suggests that after a point, money stops acting as an effective motivator. As important as it is for survival, monies isn’t a sustainable motivator. This is why high pay jobs accompanied with high stress don’t necessarily equate to a more fulfilled work life. The magic trick is understanding painfully ordinary yet crucial factors. They are: 

  • Mastery: We have an innate human desire to improve and refine our skills and abilities. From learning to crawl, we don’t stop until we master running. And if you’ve seen kids zooming around at near light-speeds their laughter is enough to illustrate their satisfaction. To feel competent and create competence motivates us. When we feel competent in relation to our duties at the workplace, we feel motivated to do an even better job. Our species didn’t stop at discovering fire, we saw it through to its natural conclusion- a FLAMETHROWER. And we keep going. Onwards and upwards.    
  • Autonomy: We love to direct our own lives! To have the power to choose where we want to take our lives. To have a say in our deadlines, the kind of work we prefer doing or our work timings. We are the master of our fates and the captain of our souls. The more often we feel this way, or are able to exercise our freedoms even at the workplace, the more motivated we feel. The less exhausting the day gets. No one likes being micromanaged, especially for simple everyday tasks. Having a say and having it heard is integral for our motivation at the workplace
  • Purpose: We seek purpose out in our lives, in every single facet. We love purpose and we can’t get enough of it. When we feel like what we’re doing has a positive impact, that it matters in the world, we feel motivated. We all want to make a difference in the world. To leave it a better place than we found it. Often when we can’t find a purpose in our work, we feel dejected and unmotivated. A purpose helps us align our energies and directs it. As a ship without an anchor floats aimlessly on the ocean, as a human that feels they are purposeless floats in a limbo. Same meaningless task after meaningless task pointlessly repeated infinitely. It would demotivate anyone! 

When all three of these factors are present or perceived to be present in our work lives, we feel happy to go to work. We look forward to work. A sense of competence, autonomy and purpose are essential elements that elevate our jobs from “things we do to pay the bills” to “passions that we feel grateful to use in the service of ourselves and humanity at large”.

If you ever find yourself struggling with motivation, professional help is always available.