A man came upon two workers breaking granite so he stopped to ask them, “What are you doing?” The first one sarcastically replied, “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m trying to break this granite. The second worker enthusiastically responded, “I’m part of a team of people who are building a beautiful cathedral.”
So you don’t like your job. Think about getting a different one, but in the meantime or as an alternative make the most of the one you’ve got.
Two Levels in Which You Can Find Meaning in Your Work
At one level, you might work for an organization whose mission aligns with or resonates with your own personal mission. For example, your personal mission is to help kids and you work for a children’s hospital.
Even if the organization’s mission doesn’t align with yours, you can very often find some meaning in it. A sales clerk at Wal-Mart can appreciate serving people with limited incomes (yes they shop at Wal-Mart).
The second level of meaning is personal. You can almost always derive some meaning and some degree of happiness while doing whatever it is you do. I’ve read the stories about the janitors or Fred the mailman, among others, who have found happiness and personal meaning in what most would consider menial jobs. It may take some work and creativity, but it can be done. Stop whining about your job and start looking for opportunities to be extraordinary and find something positive in what you do every day.
One of the best ways to find some personal meaning and happiness in your job is to use it as an opportunity to improve yourself. Personal growth is one of the best ways to do this, for at least one person – you. You can make your work the education and practice ground for creating a better you.
What a fantastic way to approach any job! Just make your own personal growth become your doing what you love.
Bring Your Strengths To Your Job
Maybe you are great at comforting people or giving advice about personal or professional issues. Take that to your job and look for opportunities in both professional and personal social situations at work to apply that strength. Maybe you are a great technical problem solver. There are very few jobs where solving problems is not a high-value skill. Instead of sitting around like a bump on a log, do something with your strengths. I call BS on people who say they have no opportunity bring their strengths to their jobs.
Be Curious and Look for Novelty
You do not do the same thing every day no matter what you claim. You are just choosing to see it that way and ignore the opportunities. You can find something new in everything you do. Just be curious, looking for new things and trying to figure out what you can learn from and it will work wonders. This keeps you more engaged and will result in you getting more out of your work. You are going to move in one direction or another. You are going to spiral upwards or downwards. You have the power to decide what it’s going to be.
Make it Challenging
One of the worst things you can do in your work is to just put in your time. I assure you that you will not feel good about yourself in the long run by just going through the motions. You will miss many opportunities for personal growth that will serve you in the future. If you’re putting in the time you might as well get something out of it. Whenever I’ve been lazy in my work, I’ve hated my job. I pretended like the hating it made me lazy, but I knew that I had the causal relationship backwards. Being lazy made me hate it.
Connect With People
If nothing else practice social skills such as listening, conversation skills, empathy, influence, leading, or whatever. People skills are extremely valuable and a workplace is a fantastic educational opportunity. Make it a point to work on these skills as part of your job and you will not only make the world a little better place but you will develop a very important skill. It will give meaning and purpose to your job, no matter what it is.
Aside from all that, many people find their life-partners or lifelong friends in their places of work. What a fantastic place to meet interesting people. Make it a daily goal to find out something interesting about one person every day at work.
I could go on and on but hopefully this is enough to get you thinking about ways to be happier doing your work. You can choose to look at it as a necessary evil to pay the bills or as a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow. I’ve never heard a good reason for it not to be the latter.
If you have a plan to get out then by all means execute it, but in the meantime make your time meaningful.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
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