For some people work is their reason for being. For most of us, however, that is simply not the case. To the majority work is a means to an ends – a way to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. It can therefore sometimes be hard to last the many hours that the work place eats out of our lives. Sometimes we just want to throw up our hands, throw in the towel or throw ourselves in front of the closest passing bus.
How to find more meaning at work
The problem is that not being satisfied at work has a way of leaking into the rest of our lives. For example, it might poison relations with loved ones, make it hard for us to enjoy those bits of time we do have away from the grindstone, and even – when things get really bad – slip into our dreams and have us running around there as well, before day hasn’t even started.
Of course, simply because work isn’t the reason, that doesn’t mean it can’t have some kind of meaning. It’s just a matter of finding it, creating it, or introducing it. Here are five fantastic ways for you to just that.
1) Find what gives you meaning and bring that in
Don’t wait for the job to give you meaning. Instead, import the meaning. What I mean with that is that you look to your own life, to what you find gives you meaning there, then try to find some way to bring that in to your work. So if you’re about helping people, then find out how your job gives you the possibility to help. Or if your life is about being creative, then find ways that you can be more creative at your job.
One great way to do this is to actually sit down, consider what is important to you and then try to think of few new ways to bring that into your job, even if it’s only in small ways. So, for example, if your meaning is discovering the world, then sit down and find out what five things you can still discover at your place of work that you haven’t yet discovered – like how to use a particular software package to where the recycling bin is. Then, the next week, find five new things that you can try to discover.
2) Work towards your strengths
We all have things that we’re good at and when we’re doing those things, we find what we’re doing far more enjoyable and meaningful. So, in a similar way to importing meaning, make certain that you play towards your strengths. This means that you first write down what you are particularly good at. Then find new and interesting ways to bring that into your work.
What also helps greatly here is to get other people involved. You can ask for help from other people with those tasks that you’re not particularly good at. Similarly, you can work together with somebody who has a different skill set but has to do similar tasks to you, with you both dividing up the work so that you’re doing more of your good at. This will make both of your lives easier and more interesting.
3) Make friends
We’re social creatures. That’s why we’re at the top of the food chain. That’s why we’ve reached beyond our little planet. That’s possibly why we’re self-aware. Many of us, however, spend our time at work trying to block off this aspect of ourselves. No wonder we struggle to find meaning and enjoy our work!
Instead, take the time to be social and make friends. You’ll feel better about yourself, enjoy going to work more and be generally happier. What’s more, it’s been demonstrated that when employees get along they are more productive, take less time off work and the company’s turnover rate is much reduced. In other words, it’s good for your employer as well (in case they start nagging you).
4) Be More Creative
Creativity is a wonderful and that’s true not just for artists, but for everybody. Once you view the world in a more creative manner, you can break the barriers that keep you to the rut that is most people’s lives and explore the little pleasures that are hidden all around you.
Creativity breaks the chains of mundanity.
So, become more creative in all aspects of your life (as creativity is not something that will allow itself to be switched off). There are tons of different ways to be creative. Try to import a few into your work place and enjoy finding the hidden pleasures that are certain to be there.
5) See things more holistically
We’ve all done it, gotten so narrow in our focus that we’re not even aware anymore of what’s going on outside our little bubble. The thing is, there is no better way to alienation and dissatisfaction than thinking of yourself as nothing more than a meaningless cog in a pointless machine.
So instead, take the time to figure out how what you do matters to the company you work for, and take a more overarching view of what’s going on. Take ownership of what you’re doing and how what you’re contributing becomes as part of that whole. Pay attention to the processes that go around you, where a group has the ability to create thing that nobody would be able to do on their own. Try to understand it, explore it and then share your enthusiasm with others. After all, you never know what good might come of you demonstrating positivity and a deep understanding of what is going on around you.
Don’t get boxed in
The truth is, when we don’t really enjoy our job, we stop paying attention to what’s going on as well as what is possible. We close ourselves off to possibilities and meaning. And down that road dissatisfaction lies. Instead, since you’re going to be spending as much time as you do there anyway, why not explore the wonder of it? Committing yourself to doing so doesn’t cost anything, nor does it mean that you’re committing yourself to staying where you are forever more.
It is simply a matter of trying to make your situation better and more meaningful. Now what could ever be wrong with that? So don’t wait for the meaning to come to you. Instead, embrace meaning and bring it both into your life and everybody else’s.
And yes, that might not be easy, but could you imagine a mission more worthwhile?