A while back, I read Personal Finance for Dummies. I found statements in the book that intrigued me:

  • “Many people toil away at work, dreaming about a future in which they can … do what they want, when they want. People often assume that this magical day will arrive when they retire…”
  • “Many of the people I speak to say that they do want to retire, and most say the sooner, the better.”

I don’t know whether these statements are true, but if they are, it means that many people hate their job. It means that many people do their job only because they have to, not because they want to. That’s a sad situation to be in.

Work takes a large portion of our lives, so it’s important to get it right. It’s not a good idea to do something that you want to quit. Instead, you should do something that excites you. You should do something that makes you feel fulfilled.

If you find yourself hating your job, I urge you to do something about it. Don’t let years pass by with you doing nothing. The sooner you take action, the better.

There are three factors of work motivation:

  • Autonomy: the control you have in your job. The more you can control what to do and when to do it, the more motivated you are.
  • Mastery: the sense of progress you get. The more you think you are getting better, the more motivated you are.
  • Purpose: the meaning you get from your job. The more what you do matters to you, the more motivated you are.

If you are not motivated at work, you may lack one or more of these. The more you lack them, the more miserable you would feel.

So how can you be motivated at work? Here are some tips.

1. Identify the problem.

From 1 to 10, how would you rate yourself in terms of autonomy, mastery, and purpose? Take some time before answering.

Next, check your answers. Do you have one or more factors with a low score? These are the factors that you should focus on.

2. View your job as a way to contribute.

Of the three factors above, the one that you can control the most is the third one: purpose. Why? Because all you need to do is changing the way you view your job.

To increase your score in purpose, view your job as your way to contribute rather than getting something. Think about how you can contribute to society through it. Think about how you can make the world a better place. By viewing your job this way, you will have a sense of purpose.

3. Take a new challenge.

To increase your score in mastery, you need to have a sense of progress. A good way to get that is by taking new a challenge.

If you just keep doing what you’ve always been doing, you won’t be motivated. So stretch yourself and do something new. It might not feel comfortable in the beginning, but the satisfaction you get from overcoming a new challenge will motivate you.

4. Negotiate for autonomy.

The factor where you might have the least control is autonomy. If you work for an organization, your autonomy depends on your boss’ and the organization’s policy.

What you can do here is negotiate with them to get more autonomy. Explain how it will benefit them if they give you more autonomy. If they can see the benefit, they may give it to you.

5. Consider building your own business.

A more sure way to get autonomy is by building your own lifestyle business. It’s not for everyone and it will take time to mature, but it allows you to control what to do and when to do it. You might want to consider building one.


Your work should make you feel fulfilled and motivated. Apply the tips above and you will be on the right track.