Finding Meaning At Work
At work, do you find yourself going through your day-to-day activities, only to get home at the end of the day and ask “Is my career meaningful?”
This is a common question that most, if not all, business professionals ask themselves at some point during their career. The key to answering this question is to first look at what you do and identify what about it provides meaning to yourself and to your community. There are several ways to increase your professional well-being, each requiring a deeper look at yourself and what you want to achieve.
Why Do You Do What You Do?
This may seem like a trivial question, but it actually is the most important one to ask yourself. We have to be able to identify why we chose to be in the career we pursue. Your answer may be as simple as I have bills to pay and mouths to feed or more complex such as I am able to give back to my community through the projects that I manage. Both of these answers come from one common place within each of us. (No one else can answer for us).
This question is going to require you to look internally and decide what drives you. Once you can answer this question, you can clearly identify what motivates you and give yourself direction on how to obtain a more meaningful career.
Clearly Define Your Aspirations
Do you have clear aspirations for things you want to accomplish? Do they line up with your career? If they don't, can they?
That is a lot of questions about aspirations, but answering these will give you direction on how you can sync your career with your deeper motivations. There are many ways that you can take your personal desires and line them up with your company’s direction. If you decide that your current job does not sync up with things that matter to you, maybe you aren’t in the right place or you aren’t expressing to the right people what it is you want to do! There are many companies who have company philosophies that go with serving others, community involvement, personal development, etc.
Having clearly defined aspirations will allow you to dig deeper into gaining meaning from your career and from your personal life.
What is Meaningful to You? Only You Can Answer
As we spoke about in the previous sections, you need to identify what is meaningful to you. A good practice in establishing what things bring fulfillment to your life is to make a list of the causes you find important and how you can act upon them.
If the company you are working for contributes to a cause but it doesn’t resonate with you, maybe you should tell your team something YOU would like to champion. You cannot blame a company for not pursuing a noble cause that you believe in if you have never shared it with anyone. It is your responsibility to voice those pursuits that resonate and provide meaning with you.
Once you decide that you want to help a cause and are ready to present it to your company, be prepared to also lead the charge on behalf of your team.
Work is still Work
Now that you have clearly defined what things are meaningful and how to weave them into your career, you can’t lose focus of the fact work is still work. Championing causes and pursuing goals need to align with your career path without derailing it. It is very easy to become enthralled in new, exciting activities that speak to you and lose sight of the day-to-day activities you must carry out.
Meaning at work is important but requires looking deeper than the surface. You must identify what makes you tick, what is important to you, and relay that to your team.
You will find that you can end a day energized and have a feeling of fulfillment, but it is up to you to ensure that you define what it takes to get there. Ultimately, work is a tool at your disposal to assist in providing meaning to your life, instead of being the source of meaning.
- Identify why you pursue your current career
- Clearly define your aspirations/motivators that bring you fulfillment
- Ensure that your goals align with where you work
- Speak with your team about causes to which you would like to contribute
- Take a lead role in leading these causes
- Don’t lose sight of the fact that work is still work and place priority on completing day-to-day obligations