We get out of bed in the morning, wash up, and maybe we grab breakfast before heading to work. Then we come back, do whatever chores or errands are required of us, and repeat tomorrow. And, of course, we expect our colleagues to do the same. Day after day.
Everyone needs to do this because, well, everyone needs to get paid. And income is the universal motivator, right?
As those weekdays crawl by, maybe we notice our colleagues don’t have the same enthusiasm as before. It may even be that we ourselves just aren’t that into the tasks laid out before us today. But we’re being paid to do this, so shouldn’t we feel sufficiently invigorated to get started? What’s happening?
It turns out, as we enter jobs that require more cognitive gymnastics than mechanical repetition, that universal motivator–money–suddenly doesn’t mean so much. Research cited in this article for Cleverism conveys the finding that many people would actually work for less money so long as that work gives them meaning and purpose.
Jacquelyn Smith, for Forbes, stresses that his does not mean that less money is preferable to more money. We all still need a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs–not to mention a few creature comforts–after all. In this TED Talk, social science author Daniel Pink describes the folly in exclusively adhering to extrinsic motivators. Pink argues that if we want to get the most out of ourselves and our colleagues, then we need to focus on more than money–we need to focus on purpose.
Money alone isn’t enough to inspire our modern workforce, as evidenced by the tumult of the Great Resignation. Employers last year began offering higher compensation but still faced difficulty with staffing. Our society has evolved tenfold. As a result, so have our needs, our passions. The largest encyclopedia in the world was written for free by writers pursuing intrinsic passions rather than external rewards. To this day, their creation, Wikepedia, remains free for all.
Today, if we’re feeling the erosion of everyday minutiae, focus on what your work means to others. Does your work help bring a smile to people? Does it improve lives, even if only in a small way? Our jobs don’t necessarily give us purpose, but rather, it’s up to us to find that purpose.
“What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.”
— Julia Cameron
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