How to Find Meaning in Our Work
It's no secret that finding meaning in our work is crucial to our overall sense of fulfillment. In fact, Gallup reports that only 15% of the American workforce are genuinely engaged in their work, and it's no coincidence that these individuals all have a strong sense of purpose in what they do.
If we want to thrive in our careers truly, it's essential to make the work/love connection by discovering meaning in the grind.
Connecting with the purpose of our work helps us avoid a disheartening level of mediocrity in our lives. From a coaching perspective, connecting with this meaning in our work is not automatic. It takes effort and a healthy approach to our careers.
Take, for instance, my friend Mike who is a banker. At one point in his career, he shared that he was barely surviving. He went through the motions daily, feeling unfulfilled and needing more motivation. Mike often dreamed of doing something more meaningful with his life, but the thought of stepping out of his comfort zone and trying something new was daunting. He found it easier to look forward to the weekends and dread Mondays.
Then my friend hired a professional coach. He realized that staying in his comfort zone would not bring him the fulfillment he craved. He knew he needed to act and find a way to make his work more meaningful. So, he began exploring different options and discovered a passion for volunteering in his community.
Through his volunteer work, Mike found meaning and purpose in his life. He was able to make a positive impact on others and felt a sense of satisfaction that he had never experienced before. He no longer dreaded Mondays but looked forward to each day as an opportunity to make a difference.
Mike's simple example is a reminder that stepping out of our comfort zones and doing the work of finding meaning can lead to a more fulfilling life.
Something magical happens when we intentionally connect meaning to our work. We become engaged, strive for excellence, and realize that we were all created with a unique purpose.
You are probably wondering how Mike did it. How did he stumble onto meaning in his career?
The steps are the same whether you are a banker or a CEO. It begins with courage. Here are four ways we can all learn to connect with our work.
Slow down and study the impact of your work. Who are you serving, and in what ways are you making someone else's life better by not just your job but the way you do your work?
Slow down and study your loves and loathes. What do you love about your work, and what do you dislike or loathe? Taking the time to understand what drives your love helps you to identify more clearly your why.
Begin to do the work of your loves. What does that say about you? Can you do more of that? Why does that part of your job or your work excite you?
Shift to your loves by focusing on practicing (and being the very best) at the things in your job that drive your passions.
Finding meaningful work is a process that requires bravery, self-awareness, and a clear vision of what we want to achieve. To create true meaning and fulfillment, we must connect with our chosen vocation and understand the "why" behind our work.
Searching for meaning at work is an inside-out job that requires introspection and self-reflection. By stepping into our strengths and being open to new possibilities, we can find work that truly resonates with our passions and values.