Love your job or your paycheck?

Dan Pink, author of two New York Times bestseller books, discusses his research on motivation; he claims that science confirms ‘what we already knew in our hearts’ – that humans do not succeed in the work environment based on extrinsic motivations – a punishment/reward system – but rather on intrinsic motivations – finding a sense of purpose in what you do. If Mary loves what she does and feels that it is actually making a difference, she will do a much better job than Joe who feels like his work is meaningless but works to get a paycheck.

This distinction between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation raises a lot of questions about how most companies motivate their employees. Do humans really care if they are getting more money/perks? Is that what makes us work more? Or does it have more to do with feeling a sense of purpose and meaning in what we do, or even a sense of autonomy, as Pink suggests?

Here at the Office of Vocation & Ministry we are constantly exploring the notion of vocation as it relates to the over-arching call to love God and neighbor.  This is all well and good, but how much do we consider the need to love what we do as well? Perhaps looking at what we are good at and love doing can help guide us in our job hunt. It may not mean a 6 figure salary right off the bat; but Dan Pink (and we would agree) seems to think that your best bet in the career search is sticking with what you love to do, and learning how to do it well!

See Pink’s TED talk for a more accessible summary of his message!

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