Our Daily Bleg: What’s My Incentive to Work?

Here’s a desperate bleg from a reader named Theo Bryan. (Send your own blegs here.)


I am living with my stepfather and don’t pay rent or food expenses. I am not pressured to find work from my stepdad or my mother, who lives in another city for work. I fear I have no incentive to work. We live in a very nice apartment in the ideal part of town. The few expenses I have I pay for with money left over from tuition.

If I move out, my comfortability will plummet. I will have to get a low-paying job just to pay the bills.

I don’t really have any incentives to move out, and I’ve stayed here just doing nothing for a few years.

The problem is I am self-loathing because I depend on other people. I want to be working and paying for myself, but I haven’t the motivation.

What should I do? Throw away my apartment keys? Sign an apartment lease contract?

I appreciate any thoughts.

I don’t even know where to start with this one, but I am guessing that you all do.


Dude, You are a loser! Get a haircut and a real job. How can you even have a social life, let alone date when you live with your step-father?


Have children. I don't have any, but I hear that it really lights a fire under your butt.


I am not familiar with any of your personal/financial goals. But, if you have a college degree then do something with your life because the opportunities to find a job is much greater than others with no college degree. Nobody starts with a high paying salary with no experience (only very few do). A reason why you have not moved out is most likely because you have reached an equilibrium point with utility (satisfaction). And right now, utility is being maximized, and life is all good. But, that will not stay the same for the rest of your life.

You should get a job, even if you don't pay the bills. It's good to save up for the future. You never know whats coming.


You claim you "want to be working and paying" for yourself, yet say you have no motivation to do so. These are contradictory. Either you have the motivation to support yourself or you don't. Clearly, being an adult and not sucking up your parents' income isn't enough motivation for you. So you actually don't want to be working and paying for yourself. If your own feelings of self-worth can't motivate you to grow up, then you don't actually want to change.

The least you could do is find a job and pay your parents some rent (whether they need it or not).



Do you have any desire to meet and attract members of the opposite (or same) sex? I can't imagine that, “I don't do anything for a living and I live with my stepdad” is much of an aphrodisiac.


Stop smokin' whatever it is that you're smokin' and get a job! You do not necessarily have to move out if you can't afford it and you get along with your family. Use this time to make some money and save it for later! It's so easy to make money when you have no bills to pay. Then when you have enough saved, use it to get your own place or start your own business or whatever. You only get one chance to live your life so you better get started!


It sounds like you actually do have an incentive to move out - self loathing is probably no fun. I recommend getting a part time job that is tolerable to you and staying put until you work your way up to being able to set goals for what you want out life.


Is your name Brad? And if so are you my brother?


I recommend forwarding this bleg to your step-father. He will be more than happy to throw you out to help with the motivation problem.


Your expected future lifetime, probability of finding a meaningful romantic relationship, and probability of making a measurable contribution to society are all rapidly diminishing with each passing day.

Moving out first may not be necessary to becoming purposeful however. Instead, perhaps you can take advantage of what sheltered family provision provides and target whatever realm you feel may be most likely to measurably benefit from your participation. Immerse yourself in that realm's activity. Join social groups where you might take on responsibilities such that you incentivize participation by avoidance of the negative social cost of disappointing those who count on you.

Monica Hamburg

You already have your motivation. You hate yourself. Goal = respecting yourself. No one likes paying bills or rent (if you find anyone who enjoys these things, let me know), but we enjoy the feeling of independence which makes us feel like, you know, cool and functional.


Having a gap of several years on your resume can prevent you from getting a good job in the future. If you ever want to (or have to) get out of your current situation, you may very well be shooting yourself in the foot with your laziness. Not to mention, speaking as a single female, I am not alone in not finding laziness an attractive quality in a man.


I'd say the real incentive is a social (including sex) life. I would wager neither is very healthy in your current situation and won't be until you have an independent life. However, I wouldn't recommend a sudden move out that would put you in an uncomfortable position. Living in a slummy apartment with no disposable income could easily drive you back to the situation you are presently in with even less motivation and zero plans or prospects.

Why not start with a job (or more schooling) while in your current situation? You could easily save money or attain a degree that opens up much better opportunities. If you feel like you have no motivation, just think about what you said:

"The problem is I am self-loathing because I depend on other people. I want to be working and paying for myself, but I haven't the motivation."

Your self-loathing IS your motivation! You don't like the way you feel. Do something about it, but do it gradually so you don't scare yourself back into your hole.

My two cents. Good luck.



You must determine the opportunity cost of the next best decision (moving out) when compared to the primary decision (mooching). Specifically, what will you gain vs. what will you lose if you move out.

Potential loses:
comfortable lifestyle
close relationship with family

Potential gains:
positive self image

My advice: comfort is overrated, freedom is not.


What do you like to do? If anything can motivate you to do something, it ought to be something you like. Realize that there are a lot of people in your amotivational state that don't have your advantages - try to help them. Even if you don't earn anything, you'll be building self-worth.


Your home life seems okay, so don't be too eager to leave. The self-loathing thing will go away if you get a job, and then you'll have a lot of extra money, too. You can either save that extra money, spend it on stuff you like, or give some portion of it to your step-father as "rent"; do whichever one makes you happiest. It's a pretty good situation!


Everyone in the situation (parents included) needs to grow up. Stop enabling the kid (though I'm guessing he is likely around my age, the letter has the air of a petulant, ungrateful teen about it). At this point, asking for rent is not unreasonable.

Message to my generation (Y): not everything is easy- life will not always be as luxe as you may have had it when living at home. A lot of our parents have done a great job at providing for us and protecting us, but in doing that, some of us have missed out on the fact that your life cannot always be happy and easy. Everyone, no matter where they come from, will have times in their life where they wish their situation was better than it is- these times make us work harder towards wherever it is we want to be. As my father told me anytime I tried to cop out of unpleasant situations as a kid "tough luck- suck it up, get it done, and move on with your life".

I find that now I am out of my childhood home and finished with school, I appreciate any good things that come my way - whether they be material or personal (new friends, promotions at work, volunteer opportunities, etc.) because they are mine- no one has handed them to me. If moving out is too big a step for the moment, at least get involved- find a part time job you enjoy, find an organization to volunteer your time for, join a sports league- something. Hopefully the satisfaction from something you did yourself (and did not depend on others for) will be incentive enough to keep branching out into independence. Good luck.



Set a goal and Stickk to it.


Mark Hubbard

Well, I'm from New Zealand where we are now in the unenviable position - indeed I can almost here the fiddles playing - of having for every 1.8 people working - and I'm one of those - 1.7 people taking their money - that's the money of the ones working - on a benefit or the huge welfare state's payroll. Almost 1 for 1 of those working having to pay for those who either don't, or whose job as the thugs of State is to bind the noble hands that feed them. So you could move Down Under, amongst many of your peers, and sit on your couch, while watching a society burn itself out.



I also have a friend named Brad who's in the exact same situation, a house tho. Guess it"s a "Brad" thing. But of course there are some exceptions.