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The 4 hiden motivations for a job

The ideas in this article are partly based on the video of Harry Mariette, a Krav Maga expert and entrepreneur in various fields. His Krav Maga channel is excellent, I highly recommend it to everyone!

When we project ourselves into professional life, there are basically 4 powerful sources of motivation that guide us. Often, some of these motivations are not conscious. To make the right choices in your career, you need to know yourself. If you know what motivates you deeply, you won’t go down a path that doesn’t suit you. In the end, sooner or later, you will return to what guides you deeply, so it is better to make the right choices at the beginning of your professional life, rather than changing direction later: this is time-consuming and you may not have the opportunity if you have already built your personal life.


Money is an important motivation in that it is in fact the reason that distinguishes a job from the very concept of work. Indeed, there are times in your life when you can work without being paid (domestic work, community work etc.). A job is therefore first of all a response to the need to provide for oneself, which is why money is a common source of motivation. Beyond physiological needs (eating, drinking and sleeping) and security needs (housing, sheltering from the cold, living in safety), a job can be an opportunity to satisfy our needs for belonging and self-esteem, which a high salary makes possible. Money gives you status, purchasing power that allows you to belong to a selective group. The more money you earn, the more opportunity you have to enter elite circles that are by definition reserved for only a part of society. If you are interested in the race for honours (cursus honorum in Latin), money can be an undeniable asset to reach the highest steps of the podium. Of course, there is a taboo around money. Many of us don’t dare admit to ourselves that we are interested in the race for honours and that we are desperate to make our money go further. There is nothing wrong with having ambition, it is better to be clear about it by not hiding an important part of who you are. Desiring to climb the highest steps of society is not immoral as long as one uses a dignified and meritorious path.


Many of us aspire to lead others. For some, it satisfies a thirst for power, for others, it gives them the importance of existing and being valued. There is nothing wrong with leading, especially if you are competent in what you do and you are also keen to pass on your know-how. That said, managing is not an easy thing. It is one of the three “impossible jobs” described by Freud (the other two being psychoanalysis and teaching). Why is this? Well, because leading is opposed to the will to self-determination that is present in all of us and that can be summarised as the search for freedom. While it is true that people also like to be managed because it reassures them, they have other desires that contradict this idea, which necessarily makes management jobs difficult because they are sources of conflict or at least of more or less permanent tension. If leading is what you like, go for it wholeheartedly, but don’t forget the real underlying motivations, which may sometimes not be the best ones (filling egotistical frustrations, seeking self-esteem). In such cases, you risk becoming a despot, which will of course have the disadvantage of annoying your subordinates.


Learning and becoming better is an important source of motivation. It is essential because, of the other three motivations, it is perhaps the only one that depends exclusively on oneself and that makes us progress as a human being outside the professional dimension (“serving others” is also a way of human and spiritual progress even if it depends on others). “He who does not progress regresses”. This sentence sums up well the awareness of those who are driven by this motivation. They are afraid of regressing, so they are ready to leave a comfortable job but one that exposes them to a form of stupidity in the long term (the famous “bullshit jobs”). This thirst for knowledge and improvement is normally present in every profession, but it is true that the specialisation of tasks has made some professions less attractive in this area even though they are “white collar”. People who are mainly motivated by learning in their profession should look for a profession that has a “master” vision, i.e. the person can improve throughout his or her life like good wine (lawyer, doctor, researcher etc.). Without this, the person may be in constant search and end up wandering, constantly changing jobs to continue to experience the stimulation of novelty.

Serving others

Feeling useful and helping others is a noble motivation, even if it is most often egotistical. When motivated to serve, one should ideally do so out of a genuine desire to improve people’s lives rather than to feel superior to others, otherwise it will not work. If the selfish motivation is stronger than the altruistic motivation, there is a problem. Those who serve others are the guarantors of cohesion in society (nurse, priest, fireman, policeman, doctor etc.), without them we could only live in antagonistic clans. That is why, if you are driven mainly by this motivation, you have a great power, to create harmony wherever you go. You are valuable and your sacrifice honours you.

A job is a combination of these four motivations in different proportions. If you can determine the exact percentage allocated to each of these categories, you can almost deduce with certainty the type of job that would suit you.

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