What motivates you to work?

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

January 27, 2013


Categories: One a Day, Post a Day 2013

Money? Prestige? Lifestyle? Reputation? Belief?

What motivates you to work?

Recently, a colleague wanted to know why someone who we assumed doesn’t need a job, would want a job. It seemed as if the question was being posed from the premise that the major motivator for work is a paycheck. So, if you remove the need for a paycheck – will someone be motivated to work to the same level of loyalty and responsibility?

I do need a job. I do need a paycheck. I have college debt that is incredibly slow, to be paid off. But, I know that I can’t do just any job. I can’t do collections, for example. And, I certainly couldn’t call people with past due medical bills asking them to pay knowing they might be delinquent because of cancer or some other debilitating disease. So, I need a job that allows me to be compassionate. I also know that I need a job that is focused on my values. I value the environment, so my job has to be in some environmental realm.

That belief ties with a paycheck. Doing good, not sitting around, making sure that I am working to become a productive, effective person is a large motivator for me, in work. But, I do need that paycheck. So, while I might derive similar satisfaction from a series of non-profit volunteering responsibilities – my focus is achieving both – belief and paycheck at the same time.

I think it’s presumptuous, though, to consider that money is the sole motivator. Maybe I’m horrified at the realization that is the main motivator. I got angry at a friend when I was in my early twenties because he confessed that status was important to him. He wanted to be the executive of his domain. He wanted to be looked up to, to be admired, and respected for his work. And, I was horrified at this prospect. Wasn’t doing a good job enough?

In my early twenties, I also shunned capitalism, entirely, hoping for some consensus communal way of doing things.

I am no longer in my twenties.

So, what motivates you to work? Why do you do a part-time gig? Why do you do a full-time gig? Do you just need money to pay bills? Do you get satisfaction from being around adults and exchanging ideas? Does it matter if it’s for a non-profit or a for profit business? Can you work with people who have questionable ethics? Do you have to take the moral high ground?

What motivates you to work? What is the spectrum of motivators?



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