Not Loving Your Day Job? The 3 Keys to Side Hustle Satisfaction

4 min read · 7 years ago


Even though they say money can’t buy happiness, we all want to earn more, right?

Money is a HUGE motivator at work and at home, but it might surprise
you that according to author and speaker Dan Pink in his bestselling
book Drive, compensation isn’t the only — or even the main — key to worker happiness.

Instead, the trifecta of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose forms the base of a fulfilling career, no matter your field.

These three factors are internal, rather than external, motivators, and promise deeper and longer-lasting satisfaction than monetary incentives can.

The acronym I use to remember them is AMP — because when you’ve got all 3, you’re probably feeling pretty AMPed!

And the best part is, when you get AMPed, you naturally get happy.

Let’s go.


According to Drive, autonomy is “the desire to direct our own lives.”

From infancy, humans are imbued with a sense of individualism and a
desire to explore the world around them; this intrinsic sense of control
over oneself and one’s actions extends to the working world.

People want the ability to make their own decisions and have the freedom to direct their own work and learning.

Autonomy can be reflected by businesses that allow their workers to
set their own schedules, free from micromanagement and rigid structure.

In my work at Ford, I enjoyed a certain level of autonomy; perhaps
more than most other entry-level positions. I had a company car and
could decide my own schedule and arrange my own travel.

Naturally I still had to work to achieve the goals of the division
and the company, but I had a fair amount of freedom in how I got that

Of course I love to be able to decide what to work on every day when I
wake up now, but it’s the biggest catch-22 of self-employment. You can
steer your own ship, and it’s awesome — but there’s also no one else to
tell you where or how to steer, and it can be a challenge. (One reason
why a mastermind can be so valuable.)

How can autonomy work inside a bigger corporation?

How about this example from a recent flight I took on Southwest.

Our flight attendant clearly LOVED his job.

He was cracking jokes the entire time, and even though he was legally
required to go over the safety requirements of the plane, he had the
autonomy to do it his way.


Pink states in Drive that mastery is “the urge to get better and better at something that matters.”

Note that both parts are equally important; the drive for improvement
AND doing “something that matters.” It might be easy to master some
menial task, but you may not feel “mastery” if you don’t feel you’re
adding some unique skill to it.

I struggled with this at Ford. I was passable at my job but I wasn’t amazing.

One thing that was cool about was that no two days were alike and I
was constantly learning, meeting new people, and getting better, but
something was still missing.

I certainly wanted to be awesome at work because why would I want
anything less? But while my peers were already “masters” or building
mastery quickly, I remained relatively stagnant.

It was frustrating, and it was probably compounded by the fact that I
didn’t have any “ownership” over what tasks I was supposed to achieve.

It was stuff like, “Last year the dealers in your zone sold batteries
to 2% of the cars they serviced. We think it should be 5%.”

Seems a little arbitrary, right?

At least now when I’m chasing down my own goals, I get to pick the numbers.

Employers can best incorporate a sense of mastery by encouraging
learning, growth, and tackling new challenges and responsibilities.

But if that’s not going to happen at the 9-5, I propose finding a side hustle that lets you pursue mastery on your own terms.

Blogging is a great example for me. Each week I get to try and
improve my writing and share some hopefully useful and interesting stuff
with you.

Getting better at something that matters.

Check and check.


Purpose, as defined by Pink, is “the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.”

This is the strongest of all intrinsic motivators, as a deep
conviction will drive workers to go above and beyond when fulfilling
their tasks, and is the key to lasting satisfaction with one’s work.

And this is also where the wheels fell off of my job at Ford.

Pun intended.

No matter how much corporate Kool-Aid I drank, I had a hard time convincing myself of the greater purpose of my role.

And I don’t mean that in the
selling-cars-to-people-who-don’t-need-them sort of way. Business is
business. I have no problem with that.

But I mean it more in the sense like, if I don’t show up today, will it make any meaningful impact to the bottom line of any of my customers or even the company?

Not even a blip on the radar.

To me, that was purpose. I wanted to see the direct impact of my efforts on the bottom line (and my paycheck), and it wasn’t happening.

Thankfully I found a side hustle that scratched that itch, and I’m confident you can too.

Purpose doesn’t have to be about saving the whales or feeding the hungry (though it certainly can be).

Purpose can simply be about helping people; and a side hustle is a perfect way to do that.

Your Turn

Take a look at your day job.

Do you have Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose?

Are you AMPed?

If your 9-5 isn’t doing it for you, consider these factors and find a side hustle that will!

You’ll be more satisfied with life and excited to get up each day.

This article originally appeared at

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