Fundamentally speaking, have you ever considered why you work?
Let that question sit for a minute, because it’s not always an easy one to answer. Most people I’ve asked this will quickly respond with a “Well, of course, I work because…” defensive type of answer. But as the conversation gets going, they often begin to realize that they have deeper, more personal, and sometimes conflicting reasons for working.
Those reasons may be hard to discover, and even harder to admit. So I ask again – have you ever considered why you work? I have many times, and the answer is not always the same. But I try to be completely honest with myself and arrive at an answer each time.
Today’s post seeks to present what I believe are some of the fundamental reasons people choose to work. I say choose, because like all things in life, I believe that your attitude about work is a personal choice, even if you “choose” to work “because you have to.”
What are the major reasons?
- That also happens to be my first reason why people work. When people say they work “because they have to,” it is because they see it as an unavoidable part of life. They refuse to see any other alternatives to producing income, or to view their jobs as anything but a means to an end. People that work because they have to are often unmotivated at their jobs, bitter toward others, resentful at home, and live the same day over and over again for their entire working lives.
- Some people work to provide for others. This can be a big motivator, primarily in single-income families. There is nothing quite like knowing that you are the sole link between your family and their ability to survive in this world. Variations of this are many – for example, married couples can feel like they have an obligation to work for their spouse, while roommates can also feel a sense of responsibility toward those living with them.
- There are many who work because they love what they do. This is the crowd that practices the “do what you love and the money will come” philosophy. They are passionate about their vocation, and can get lost in their career’s pursuits. It’s important to remind them to check in with their wallets once in a while and ensure that their passion can still pull them through.
- Some work primarily out of fear. They work because they are scared of the alternative of not having a job they like, or any job at all. Unfortunately, with a strong recession and a high unemployment rate, this type of feeling can spread quickly through the working ranks today. It’s also why many stay with their companies through these times, even though they don’t enjoy their jobs very much.
- People also work to fund their true passions. While their primary income may not be from a career-building position or a job they particularly like, they use the money they earn there to fund a hobby, passion, or side business that they are truly crazy about. This can be a win-win situation for everyone involved.
- Some work simply for the money. They love the idea of money, and they idea of making a lot of it even more. This group of workers can quickly forget their true motivation, as their only aspiration turns into maximizing and consistently increasing their income. They can be greedy, and lack the perspective to see when enough becomes enough.
- Other people work to leave a legacy or for recognition and greatness. They see their work as a critical part of something they are building or a part of. Many times, they may be volunteers or non-profit workers, trying to make a difference and leave the world a better place.
- Still others work primarily to share. They often contribute large percentages of their income to charity and causes. They feel that the money they make transcends their immediate needs, and are very passionate about those they financially support.
- There are those who work out of boredom. These can be retirees who may have experienced the lack of stimulation that abrupt retirement brings, and seek to return to work simply to keep themselves occupied with something.
- Finally, some people don’t know why they work, and I have a feeling this is a large percentage of the population. They work day after day without giving a second thought as to what they are doing. They are a little bit like the group that works because “they have to,” but have never really sat down to give the question a second thought.
No matter what your reasons for working, I hope that you can be honest with yourself as you read this post and ask the question of yourself.
Talk about it with your family and friends – you may be surprised as to what you learn about yourself and those around you. If you’re willing to share why you work, feel free to do so here.
I’m excited to learn about your motivations!
Photo by EDgAr H.