What’s Your Motivation for Work?


How you think of your work determines where it will take you and how you stay motivated throughout the day. Are you there simply for a paycheck or for some greater purpose? Imagine three people, all with the same job, but all with different perspectives. They do the same tasks, but their motivation is completely different. How does it affect their happiness, their future, and what they accomplish? Here are three examples…

Worker One.

When asked why they work they respond: “I’m doing the work to pay my bills, provide food for my family and to live my life day to day.” Paychecks come and paychecks go so I need to continue working to support my life. Worker one doesn’t feel like they’re gaining any particular purpose from their job, they don’t think much for tomorrow, and they only do what’s necessary. I’d be willing to wager that this is the majority of workers at the moment,especially those who’ve been rooted in a job without having to search for new work.

Worker Two

When asked why they work they respond: “I’m doing this job to learn job related skills, to advance in this field, and because I like the job.” I plan on being this profession my whole life and perhaps advancing in this field. I have a friend who’s a cop and this is why he works. He enjoys the profession and money is a by product of what he enjoys. This isn’t a bad spot to be in. This type of worker plans on being in this profession their whole lives.

Worker Three

When asked why they work they respond: “I’m doing this work because it’s part of a future plan.” This person is doing this job for a big reason and is powered by a big why. It may be a home flipper who’s starting from scratch who one day wants to build skyscrapers, a soldier who wants to become a General, or someone who sees the output of the work (money) as a tool for another purpose. For example someone could be working towards early retirement and financial freedom so their job doesn’t matter much to them since it will simply allow them freedom to do things they enjoy more than working in any type of job. They’re working for a goal, a vision, the future and making sacrifices today to make it happen so the job that makes that happen isn’t necessarily the tough part. Worker three is driven by a bigger purpose rather than a task related purpose.

Based on the three examples above, which worker are you?

Worker 1 who lives paycheck to paycheck, worker 2 who enjoys their field and the job, or worker 3 who works for a bigger purpose beyond the job title?

Image from saad

Aury (Thunderdrake)

I’m probably driven by #3 more than anything else. Most all of the work I do is naught but a means to the end of a huge goal I’m working towards.
.-= Aury (Thunderdrake)´s last blog ..Hoarding Dragon Basics – The Stock Market =-.

Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey

Motivation is key! I totally agree, how we view our job depends greatly on the type of output we put from it. Great food for thought Ryan. Thanks for sharing!!
.-= Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey´s last blog ..What’s Next? That Is The Question =-.


I work to provide for the people I care about, and to possibly save enough to semi-retire early. The goal is financial freedom, because financial freedom gives you options to do more of the things that are important to you.
.-= Darren´s last blog ..Use Math To Alleviate Fear Of Stock Market Volatility =-.

Early Retirement Extreme

I work because I want to make a difference. I found that I wasn’t making much of a difference when I worked regularly. The clincher was when my dog and pony show (the blog) started having more exposure in a day than my job had in a year or even several years. This is still what drives me. If I find that people no longer care about my writing/blogging, I will start doing something else in pretty short order.
.-= Early Retirement Extreme´s last blog ..Kantian morals and early retirement =-.


Two and three are both driven by their future…

Financial Samurai

#2 is a good choice for you and others Ryan.

I think we’ll all have an opportunity to experience all three.
.-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..Who Needs A Job When You Have A Private School Degree =-.

Scott Barron
Ryan: At my last job I was (as you classify) Worker #3. It was normal for me to work 70 – 80 hours a week without question. My job & the company was my life. I didn’t have any problems with that. Being single, I wasn’t taking precious time away from anyone. I never thought about money. That was just a benefit. My whole reason for working was to make a difference. I wanted to help mold the company in new directions. I was always eager to try new things. I absorbed the knowledge of my peers and superiors. It… Read more »

G’day Ryan, first time here and I’m really enjoying the posts.
I would definitely classify myself as worker 1, which is why I believe I found this online entrepreneurial world in the first place.
Now that I am answerable to only myself, I am hoping I can become a combination of worker 2 and 3
.-= Alex´s last blog ..Tips to help you Focus & Win! =-.

Little House

I’d have to say that I’m a worker 2, but am aiming towards becoming a worker 3. I know that someday I’ll want to stop working. I’d better start planning my future a little farther down the line than two or three years!
.-= Little House´s last blog ..Tuesday Tips, Week 12 =-.


I work for cheap health benefits for my family and #3

Scott Barron

I also find it difficult seeing worker 1, 2 & 3 work together. I see resentment and animosity amongst the groups.

Myself being a #3 gets very irritated working with #1. Mostly because I don’t understand that concept.

What Do You See?
.-= Scott Barron´s last blog ..How Safe Are You? =-.


Worker #3 fo sho. I am working for early retirement all the way. Part of that means saving up enough money to start a little side business of my own.

Nice post by the way, interesting descriptions!:)
.-= MyFinancialObjectives´s last blog ..My Cashless Society =-.

Roman Soluk

Very nice article! I was thinking of that topic some time ago and I also think this way (your first sentence tells everything). I think that if you like your job you will achieve more. Without loving your job, you’ll fail sooner or later.
.-= Roman Soluk´s last blog ..Drinking enough water =-.


Some jobs are stepping stones and some jobs aren’t jobs but careers.

If you are in a place in life where you are looking to establish and grow your career- then you should become a student of the craft and really embrace your career.


I think there is a little bit of all the workers in me. I love my job, learning skills to better myself and would love to retire early. However, there are days like today when I feel like I am just here for the paycheck.