The not-so-obvious reasons why we go to work
No matter how you feel about your job, everyone has been there. You roll over, fumble for the the snooze button and mutter "I wish I didn't have to go to work today." Though most people are less than thrilled about getting out of bed in the morning; there are many reasons why we ultimately throw back the covers and head to work.
“Keep interested in your own career
it is a real possession in the
changing fortunes of time.”
- Max Ehrmann
At its most basic level, a job is a simple exchange: money for a product or service. But we work hard for more than just “the money”. Some of our motivation is deeper than our pocketbooks, though you may not have thought about it (especially when you’re fighting the urge to call in “sick”).
We like to be useful
We get personal validation from work. Providing a service, creating a product, accomplishing a task– it feels good. When you ask yourself “why should I get out of bed today?” the answer is as simple as imagining what happens when you're not at work.
For an auto mechanic, your absence could mean others have to put off vehicle repairs and compromise their safety. For a certified nursing assistant (CNA), sick patients may spend more time in the waiting room before they receive treatment. Think calling in as a cashier doesn't matter? Hold on a second: close down your register and all those customers have to head to other lanes. People wait longer before they get home to their families and the other cashiers work harder. To each of those people, your presence matters.
No matter what your job, take yourself out of the picture for a day and you'll see that you make a huge difference when you're at work. You can also get that sense of importance from volunteer activities and caring for your family (and those are both great things we definitely support!), but going to work makes you feel vital while you make a paycheck.
We like structure
People like schedules. Our biological clock gets set a certain way, and (though there are exceptions to every rule) humans thrive on structure. When we don't have anything in particular to do, days tend to run together. We will put things off until tomorrow, the day after tomorrow... on second thought, how about sometime next week?
Even when it has rotating schedules or part-time hours, work provides a solid structure for our time. We're more likely to prioritize our free time when we know it isn't a limitless resource. Though we have more personal time when we're not working, often it seems that we get less done. It's natural to say you'll read that book or visit a friend "later" when you don't have set plans, but if today is your day off you're more likely to make the most of it.
We like expanding our horizons
We often learn valuable skills at work, but we also benefit from simply being around other people. Whether customers, clients or coworkers: most jobs provide us with human contact that is vital for our well being. Spending time with other people gives us a chance to socialize, exchange ideas and share new perspectives.
We like... work
There are days when even the most enthusiastic employees grumbles a little on their way to work, but for most people the benefits of having a job outweigh the cost (i.e., part of your time). Personal validation, prioritizing our time, exposure to new ideas and interacting with other people all make going to work a fulfilling experience (and getting paid is pretty awesome too).