Motivation for work – why the lack of it? Is money everything?

Many workers suffer from the lack of motivation. They go to work for money. This is tedious. While money is the simplest motivation, it is not the best.

Motivation is complex. It is a mix of happiness, achievement, pride, fulfillment and more.
You don’t work just for money. Perhaps you work because the job gives you a nice title or because the colleagues are friendly. Money alone is hardly sustainable.

The best form of motivation is meaning. Meaningful work has an achievable goal that benefits others. There is a Greek myth about a King, Sisyphus who was punished for eternity. He had to push a boulder up a hill and once it reached the top, it would roll back down.

No one likes toiling towards unreachable goals. Many simply quit when the task does not seem to be leading anywhere.

Here’s a real life example of an experiment performed on engineers. A group of engineers were asked to build something out of Lego Bionicles. Half of the group liked the task, the other half didn’t like it. Once they completed the task, the robot was dismantled and the engineers were asked to rebuild the robot. After a few rounds, even those who liked the exercise initially gave up.

Ownership of work is also important. The more effort and ownership you give an employee, the harder he will work.

The idea of achieving happiness is a central motivator. In reality, a fat paycheck and a new Porsche don’t guarantee happiness. Therefore, we shouldn’t rely on external forces like money to foster long-term motivation.

In fact, money as the sole motivator will backfire. If you were given an extra sum of money to work 2 more hours, you will no longer work 2 more hours once the sum of money is withdrawn.

In summary, find work that gives you ownership, has meaning to society, is achievable and grants you recognition.