Humans are the most complex creatures on earth, but when it comes to keeping us motivated, we are actually quite simple beings. We don't require too much to feel uplifted and positive about our circumstances. The problem is that modern life, and more precisely, modern corporate jobs eliminate precisely the few things that we need to feel motivated and satisfied about our circumstances, which is precisely why so many young people are lost and depressed.
I work a regular job. It's a 9 to 5, in an office. Even though I know I won't be working a regular job for too long, having this experience has actually been extremely interesting. It has allowed me to observe from within how corporate life works. I see my time in the office as an experiment, which makes it ten times more fun. I get to see and understand human nature, and it allows me to analyze the major problems with the white collar way of earning a living. This in turn allows me to find a deeper understanding of the reasons why most people that work regular jobs are not very happy, and in many cases, all-out miserable.
Lack of agency is one of those reasons. If you work a regular job, you probably have a boss, and having a boss means that you don't get to autonomously decide what you do (at least not from 9 am to 5 pm). This is a big issue. Even though you're getting paid, not being able to freely decide how you allocate your time and energy can be very draining. Autonomy is one of the most important factors when it comes to motivation, and consequently having no autonomy makes us feel terrible. That's the first problem with most modern jobs.
If you work a regular 9 to 5 job, you've probably faced this problem. You are such a small cog in such a big machine that you can't see or understand the consequences of your work. This leads to a crisis of purpose. We need to feel connected to a deeper purpose, and punching nnumbers in a computer for 8 hours every day doesn't provide us with one. It's difficult to see what the point is, and this makes many men feel inadequate and plain useless. "Is this all there is to life?" You can make it better though, so bear with me and read on.
Mastery is the third pillar of motivation, understood as one's ability to perform a task properly and masterfully. Lack of mastery is not usually a problem in corporate life, especially because most tasks in most companies are extremely easy to perform. Still, being good at what you do can make a significant difference in your motivation and happiness levels, so keep that in mind.
How to make it better
The good news is, now that you know the main three reasons why you feel so bad at work, you can use this knowledge to your advantage and start working on those three pillars in order to make your job much more enjoyable. When it comes to agency, even though you can't just do what you want all the time, you can shift your thinking and make a conscious choice to do the things that you have to do. Instead of thinking "I have to do x or y", think "I choose to do x or y". You can also try to negotiate a more autonomous way of working with your boss. Another important thing to note is that nobody actually works the 8 hour shifts that make up a workday, and everybody has free time. Use this free time to do whatever it is that you want and regain some sense of control over your life. Also, remember that there's always a choice: you can quit your job and pursue a different career, so don't allow yourself to feel trapped and enslaved by your current circumstances.
To increase the sense of purpose, I recommend finding purpose in doing things right. You can drastically increase your sense of purpose by commiting to doing the best that you can, even if the task seems meaningless. Additionally, you can create a side project that is more connected with your values and dreams (this blog for example), which will serve as a counterweight to your sometimes depressing regular job.
As for mastery, just strive to become the best at everything you do, both in your office and outside of it. Lift weights and become a master, join a martial arts gym and learn to fight masterfully. You can do all these things simultaneously, and your sense of mastery will improve significantly, and with it, your motivation.
Corporate life can suck sometimes, I know. But you can always be grateful for what you have and work hard to do things properly. If you're going through hard times at work, keep your head up, and remember that most things, both good and bad, are temporary. Remember that you are in control and you can decide to change your circumstances, your feelings, and the very fabric of your life.
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