1 Why Do We Work?

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify the factors that motivate you to work and discuss how those factors influence your behaviour at work.
  • Describe strategies to help you to develop and maintain pride in your work: hard work, punctuality, time management, perseverance, and self-discipline.

Reasons to Work

Have you ever heard the phrase: ‘Do what you love and the rest will follow’? While you may truly enjoy many aspects of your job, it is very rare to have a job that you love all of the time. The reality is, we work for many different reasons.

Why do we work if we don’t always love our jobs? Of course, everyone has financial commitments and we all need to make a living. Perhaps you have a student loan, car loan, mortgage, or family obligations. You may have long term career and financial goals, or you may have shorter term financial needs.

Money is important, but we also work for reasons not related to financial gain. Perhaps you enjoy the challenge that work provides, or you enjoy creating or fixing things. Many people are motivated by work that focuses on helping people. Perhaps you are motivated by leadership or team work, or it’s important for you to help your community. Work ethic is often instilled in us when we are children and can help to shape who we become as adults and adult workers.

Neil Thevarge has a successful career in the field of construction. Listen to how his childhood experiences contributed to how he approaches work as an adult.

Neil’s work ethic was instilled in him as a child. Not everyone has had the same opportunity to develop a strong work ethic in their youth. The good news is that it is never too late to start to change the way you think of work.

Take a moment to reflect on why you work:

  • What are some of your short-term goals? Is there a skill that you want to learn that will help boost your career to the next level? Or perhaps you want to be able to build a garden, go fishing, or take a friend or family member to the movies.
  • What are your long-term goals? Do you want to find ways to help your community? Or do you want to travel or save for your future? Do you have a family member who needs your support and do you want to be able to help them out? Or do you want to own your own business so that you can support your community with education and opportunity?

Action Plan Activity 1 – Life goals

Using the Action Planning Tool in Appendix A, take some time to write down a few of your short-term and long-term goals that are most important to you and when you would like to achieve these goals. In the Measure of Success column, identify how you will know when your goal is completed.

Keep your goals somewhere so that you can remind yourself of them when you have a bad day at work or when you get stuck doing an aspect of your job that you don’t necessarily enjoy. Remember, bad days are temporary.

Motivation to Work

Here are some tips to help motivate you through challenging days at work:

  • Stay focused on your personal goals and remind yourself that each day you are one day closer to your long-term and short-term goals.
  • If your tasks seem overwhelming think about breaking your tasks down into smaller, achievable steps. This will help you to stay positive through tough days.
  • Are you looking to get ahead in your job? Maybe you want to be given more responsibility at work and your goal is to become a lead on the job site. Keep this in mind when you are doing things like site clean-up and do your best to impress at all times.
  • Challenge yourself, impress your boss, be given more opportunity, and move up the ladder! Success is motivating!
  • Motivate others on your team to succeed. Having a positive and motivated team is healthy and leads to successes for everyone.
  • Focus on the outcome of your work and try not to get stuck in some of the day-to-day tasks that can be challenging or not enjoyable. Are you building a house or working on a project that you take pride in? Remember the end goal.
  • Find healthy ways to reward yourself and celebrate your successes. BUT be cautious with rewarding yourself. You can become dependent on incentives and rewards and this is counterproductive!

Action Plan Activity 2 – Strategies to keep motivated at work

Can you think of other strategies to help you get through tough days and keep you striving for improvement on the job-site?

  • Write down some of these strategies in your Action Planning Tool in Appendix A under Strategies to keep motivated at work.
  • Think of sharing your strategies with the work crew, as this may keep the talk positive, open and ongoing. Positive behaviours and discussions can lead to success and they might transform your workplace.  Your colleagues will likely be grateful and they may also be willing to share their strategies that you may find useful.

Watch the following video where BCIT graduate Jacob Dalling describes what motivates him to work.

Key Takeaways

  • Hard work and discipline will bring you success in the workplace and will help you to reach your work and life goals.
  • There are many strategies you can use to stay motivated at work. Focus on your long-term and short-term goals and make sure you have a mental strategy to get through tough days at work.
  • It is motivating to know that you can be successful for yourself, your family, and your community.



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