Because of the various metrics worth considering in work choice, people often have conflicting mindsets for what makes work worthwhile. Obviously, there are many different concepts that have to be combined to create a rewarding career. In my opinion, however, the most important by far is long-term progression. A workday with no progression will be a one that quickly ruins your motivation to actually work. There are a few ways of approaching the problem of long-term progression in the work environment, and I’ll tackle them below.
The first, and most obvious, is having more content variety, or diversification of daily tasks, no matter how slight. If you don’t have to do the same thing over and over, you will be more likely to maintain your desire to keep working. As long as there is any kind of difference this category is covered, including having different objectives or different people involved with your surroundings. Giving slight variety may only extend your motivation for so long, however, so more intensive methods must be used for a truly long-term commitment.
Secondly, work that has enough depth and potential for skill growth can keep the player’s attention even if the basic daily tasks are a bit repetitive. In a career such as professional sports, players constantly get better in a competitive environment. As a player gets better their decision-making will be affected and cause events to play out differently, injecting needed lifespan into your work. You can reinforce this behavior by having a competitive environment of some kind or having satisfying things occur if you perform better. An example of a system like this is the common “Employee of the Month” type awards that motivate employees to work at a higher level.
Finally, you must have some kind of progression system built into your workday. Fill your workday with achievable milestones. Treat yourself to a nice lunch somewhere that you haven’t gone before, or pack something different to the office. These ensure that there’s a constant stream of new experiences. These alone might not guarantee that you’ll stay focused though; you have to make sure that you know that there are new experiences ahead. Plan something nice for yourself and actively look forward to it. If your work is highly skill-intensive, measure your skill in some way and make goals that push you towards improving even further. As a general rule, it’s important for you to have current and available progress visualized so that goals are recognizable as achievable. If progress towards a goal seems too far away there’s a good chance that motivation will be lost.
Important Takeaways: There are many elements in considering what makes work worthwhile, but my personal opinion is that long-term progression is key. Without progression, repetitiveness will kill anyone’s motivation to work. There are a few ways to fix this: adding more content variety, having the potential for skill growth, and having your own personal progression system built into your workday. When there’s more variety in your daily tasks, things won’t feel as repetitive. Offering skill growth gives a reason to keep working other than just paying the bills as is evident in competitive sports. Giving yourself your own progression system helps make you feel good about your progress when you most need it, such as having lunch at a fancy restaurant because you finished your project a few days before the deadline. If the only goals you have are extremely long-term, motivation will likely be lost as your perception of progress may be imperceptible.