06 Aug What is All this Work For? Finding Meaning at Work
Recently, I presented at a conference, discussing burnout with professionals. Several people in the room were very close to quitting their jobs for various reasons, i.e., being charged to do more with less, constantly shifting workplace environment, a major change in responsibility. For some, those may be welcome challenges. For others, they were just one more thing on one side of the mental see-saw telling them to walk away to find better meaning at work.
When I asked the group why they do the work they do, their faces lit up. Purpose and meaning filled their hearts and conversations for the rest of the session. We all come by this meaning in different ways, in different conversations and moments, in the tears and the laughs of those we work with and in the decision we make every day to come back to our work. But what about when we’re not sure what our purpose or meaning of our work is? Here are three questions to consider:
What do you value?
We rarely give time to a cause that does not make us feel like we have contributed in some way to our greater purpose. If you find yourself doing work that is not fulfilling you, examine the things you do that bring you joy. Perhaps, your meaning lies there. At Swift Kick, we have 5 Core Values that guide us. We revisit them regularly as a company. Not only do these values assist in hiring, but they also set the tone for the goals we set for ourselves and how we treat teammates.
What would you sacrifice?
Nine out of 10 career professionals told researchers that they would sacrifice 23 percent of their future earnings—an average of $21,000 a year—for “work that is always meaningful.” For the richest of the rich, that is an oil change for their Bugatti. On the other end of the spectrum, that is 21,000 meals.
Many times, we place value on the things we create in the world – the product. Yet, the most valuable lessons – and information that make us who we are – tend to be found in the process. It doesn’t matter what you make if you learned nothing along the way. If you’re willing to give up time or money in search of more meaning in your life, what would you do and what would you give up in that search?
What is your “why”?
How many times have you found yourself at work unhappy or frustrated because you didn’t have a clear reason to do your work? According to The Society for Human Resource Management, “47% say mundane tasks make them feel like they’re wasting their time.” Look for the reason you wanted the job in the first place. Whether you are picking up extra shifts to pay your loans or you’re an assistant to a famous movie director, think about the day you become debt free or the millions of people that will find joy in that movie.
We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.Earl Nightingale
There is no need to look back on your life and wish you had done something. Don’t be frustrated that you are not following your “calling” or living your “purpose.” What does it look and feel like when you are at your happiest in your work?