We go to work for a reason, to make money, to pay the bills, to master what we’re good at and learn new skills. But is there something else? What’s also important, especially as we send roughly 1/3 of our lives at work, is to find meaning in our work.
We often think that seeking happiness at work comes first, yet without meaning that would be hard if not impossible. That’s why meaning precedes happiness.
You may not be working in your dream job and maybe some of your work is tedious, monotonous or boring, but how you approach your work or perceive the value you provide by doing it is what matters.
You can find greater meaning by:
Seeing the bigger picture.
Hopes, aspirations and intention help to shape WHY you do your work. Do you work as a sales agent or are you helping someone else obtain their dream?
Are you a hospital cleaner or creating a safe environment for those who are sick.
Is your role just a manager or someone to champion, support and nurture the success of others?
Reflecting on what you have done.
Take the time to consider your achievements so far. In our rush to progress to the next stage in life’s journey, it’s easy to overlook the importance of looking back to review how far you’ve progressed and what that means to you as a person and in shaping the person you’ve become.
In Obama’s farewell letter to America at the end of his 8-year Presidency, he wrote
“Because all that I’ve learned in my time in office, I’ve learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.”
Our choice of focus shapes our brain. Focusing on what you’ve learned already helps to prepare you for what comes next.
Focusing on the important.
It’s easy when swept up in all our busyness to not allocate the time to differentiate between what is important and what’s just extra stuff.
Determining your non-negotiables, how much sleep you need, what exercise you will commit to and how to manage your stress more effectively allows you to stay on track.
Working to your strengths.
Working in an area you’re good at, motivated to improve in and that you enjoy is easy. It consumes far less energy and keeps stress levels low which helps you to deal with those other aspects of your work you may find more challenging.
Doing work that you love, for something bigger than yourself provides meaning.
When you have located that, then happiness will follow.