I have heard the advice ‘Karmanyevadhikarasthe’. This left me confused, during my early days.
In routine life, one is caught in constant rat race. Be it school, college or workplace, one strives to perform best and excel ahead of the rest. Spirit of competition is at the highest during education. Workplace tries to moderate competition yet one is motivated to perform as a group, moving ahead of the world. Spirit of competition is still prevalent even within a group, in a subtle manner, and progress in career depends on individual excellence. This manifest in many form at different occasions and, thus, spiritual advice is in direct conflict with daily life
If work is not what determine result, if performance (or lack of it) does not influence the what we experience, what motivates work? Why do what do? Why contribute your best? Why perform at all?
Lord Krishna has answered this question in Bhagavat Gita. It is just not possible to exist without doing anything. At minimum, one needs to take breath. One has to and does.
I have come to conclude:
Problem is not one has to do something or does something; problem is with the attachment. That is, consciousness that one is doing, and one deserves specific result.
Action is sheer mandate of existence. When you work because you feel like doing is not a problem. When you do it for someone else, when that person does not respond as expected, it hurts. When you do it for some purpose, objective is not attained, it hurts.