Why Do You Work?


Why do you work? What motivates you each day? On this Sunday evening, what are you looking forward to on Monday morning?

Work gives our lives meaning. It lets us be part of something bigger than ourselves. It enables us to change the world and leave a legacy. It offers us a way to express and contribute our strongest gifts and talents.

This may be the reason that Why We Work jumped out at me on a recent visit to the “new releases” section of my local library. It’s a TED original book written by psychology professor Barry Schwartz.

Barry’s work on The Paradox of Choice was already familiar to me. I see his theory in everyday life – the fewer options we’re presented with, the easier it is to make a choice and feel that we made a good decision.

His pearls of wisdom about work?

  • “Virtually every job that people do can be made meaningful by focusing on the ways in which it improves the lives of customers, as long as it’s done right and done well.”
  • “You don’t need to be working for an organization that saves live to find meaning and purpose in what you do. You just need to be doing work that makes people’s lives better.”
  • “There really is no substitute for the integrity that inspires people to do good work because they want to do good work.”
  • “Often, if not always, people find themselves in work situations that allow them to find meaning and engagement, if they are willing to look for it.”

This reminded me of the millions of customers we serve at my current employer. In addition to entertaining the future, we are connecting people everywhere they live, work and play. That’s what I’m exited about.

Whatever you do, there is greater meaning and purpose beyond your job description. Barry uses the example of hospital custodians who saw their jobs as transcending the requirements to clean rooms. These people saw their jobs as an opportunity to comfort patients and families in their greatest moments of need.

Why do you work?

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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