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Last Updated on January 5, 2022

Stop Doing Meaningless Work…Today!

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Stop Doing Meaningless Work…Today!

Much of the work we do is absolutely meaningless, a wasteful use of our time that really doesn’t accomplish anything of value. Do you find yourself asking, “Why am I doing this?”, “Does this really even need to be done?”, or “Am I creating anything of value?” If the answer is yes, then in all likelihood you’re stuck in the cycle of being engaged in meaningless work that has little or no value to the world, your field, or even your company.

Meaningless Work…Explained

Meaningless work is work which contributes nothing, and accomplishes nothing. It’s often busy work, “should work,” dissatisfying work, or work that doesn’t really matter to you or the world. Often our propensity to engage in meaningless work is born of a fear of not appearing to be busy. We don’t want others to think that we’re lazy. It has become a matter of social acceptance and professional respect to be constantly busy, buried under the pile of “too much work.”

Do Meaningful Work

Often we’re afraid to speak up, to question why we’re doing something. We need to ask that question of others and of ourselves. Do we have a sense that our work is contributing to the health or profitability of our company? Is our work contributing something of value to the world at large? Do we have a sense of personal accomplishment?

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Do Work That Contributes Something of Value to the World

Most of us want to do work that matters, work that creates a better world, work that has value beyond us. Question the value of your work to the world.

Ask yourself:

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  • Does my work improve the quality of others’ lives?
  • Does my work improve the condition of the world in general?
  • Does my work make living or working better, easier, faster, or less stressful?
  • Do I feel like I’m wasting my time?
  • Is my work in line with my values?

Do Work That Produces Something

Work that produces something tangible is usually meaningful in some way. However, work that produces something intangible can also be meaningful. Think about whether or not your work is actually creating anything. Make sure that what you’re producing is helpful, not harmful.

Ask yourself:

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  • Are you producing something helpful?
  • Are you producing quality work, quality products, or quality services?
  • Are you producing something useful, or is it wasteful?
  • Do you care about what you’re producing?

Do Work That Allows You to Grow

Work that allows us to learn and to grow as a person is inherently meaningful. Work that allows us to express our creativity and use our talents is meaningful. Work that allows us to expand our skills and connect to the outside world is meaningful.

Ask yourself:

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  • Are you learning anything from your work?
  • Are you doing work that seeks new solutions or attempts to look at things in a different way?
  • Are you doing work with integrity?
  • Are you doing work that is creative, innovative, or inventive?
  • Does your work allow you to express your passion?
  • Do you feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day?

No Busywork

If the reason you’re doing what you’re doing is to appear busy or to fill your time, then it’s meaningless. If the reason you’re doing work is because it’s always been done that way, question if there’s a different way to do it or whether it really needs to be done at all. If you’re doing work that has been assigned to you, don’t be afraid to question if it’s the best use of your time and the best way to contribute to your company. Don’t buy into the culture of busyness.

Stop worrying about what other people think of what you’re doing. Worry about what you think of what you’re doing. Keep asking the tough questions about the nature of your work. Do work that’s in line with your integrity. Do work that feels worthwhile. Do work that feels like you are contributing something meaningful to yourself, your employer, or the larger world.

And start doing it today.

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    Featured photo credit: Christin Hume via unsplash.com

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    Royale Scuderi

    A creative strategist, consultant and writer who specializes in cultivating human potential for happiness, health and fulfillment.

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    Last Updated on January 14, 2022

    Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

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    Where Am I Going? How to Put Your Life in Context

    Are you wondering…

    Where am I going in life? Where am I supposed to be going in life?

    And to answer your questions, here’s what the great writer and thinker, Christopher Morley famously wrote:

    There are three ingredients to the good life – learning, earning and yearning.

    Where Am I Going? Is It the Right Direction in Life?

    There are many times in life where one does not know what comes next or where to go in life. The realization that you are lost and don’t know where to go, or that you don’t like where you are going often comes as an epiphany.

    Most people describe this as being in a rut. It’s like you have everything you want and still so much is missing. You could have everything in the world but something about your life still doesn’t feel right.

    Signs That You Need to Change Direction in Life

    It is important to identify when you are unhappy with your life and want to change where you are going. Some of the most common signs of needing a change in life are as follows:

    1. You feel unhappy with your life and often reminiscence about the choices you made.
    2. You feel as if you are forced to go against your morals and intuition at work or home.
    3. The situation that you find yourself in currently is causing you a lot of stress.
    4. There is a fear or dread of the future and the consequences of your life decisions that have been causing you anxiety.
    5. You feel like you had to give up on your passions and interests just to make it in this world.
    6. The future that you are currently envisioning seems nothing like what practically lies ahead.
    7. You find yourself surrounded by unhappy people who often think you’re too idealistic.
    8. You often look forward to having a ‘good day’ even when nothing is particularly wrong with the days right now.

    If you feel like most of these signs apply to you, then it’s time to re-evaluate where you are headed in life and how you want to change that.

    The 3 Key Phases of Life

    Before learning how to choose the right direction for yourself, first try to understand the 3 key phases of life:

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    The Learning Phase

    The Learning phase typically stretches from the age of five into the early twenties and its over-riding characteristic is freedom.

    Your thinking is unfettered, you are chock-full of dreams and aspirations and (happily) someone else is footing the bills. It’s not a cliché to say that schooldays, for many of us, really were the happiest days of our lives.

    Contrast it with adult life – no one expects very much of you, and other than passing a few exams along the way and you can just swing along, having a great old time …

    The Earning Phase

    The next phase is the Earning years; the period from leaving formal education (at 20-something) to retirement (at 50-something or 60-something). Welcome to the grown-up world, welcome to the tax net.

    The overriding concern in this Earning phase is the security (I spell that word as follows: $ecurity because, for many people, this phase tends to be all about generating sufficient income to pay the monthly bills.)

    Reality bites. This can require sublimating the dreams of youth as a life of routine takes over. Few in the Earning years question the choices they have made because, typically, this questioning process can be quite disconcerting – oddly, I find this is particularly true of people who are less than happy with their working lives.

    Routine generation of wealth becomes paramount and you get swept along with the current. This is fine if you made sound choices in your late teens and early twenties with regard to your career. But if you didn’t … for routine, read ‘RUT’.

    Which brings us to Morley’s Yearning phase – from ceasing your full-time occupation until … well, ceasing.

    The Yearning Phase

    What is yearning? Unfortunately, yearning is not the same as simple hankering, wanting or desire. The dictionary definition of yearning is:

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    “A feeling of intense longing for something lost, absent or unattainable.”

    A bit gloomy. So for many people, the Yearning years are about looking back over a life not quite fulfilled and saying ‘I wish, I wish. If only … if only …’

    With the wisdom of years comes regret for the road not taken, the too-conservative choices made.

    Studies conducted in the geriatric population and on terminally ill people consistently demonstrate that regrets in human beings arise as a result of decisions not taken. The wise old owls that I have talked to over the years all speak with one voice on this.

    It is better to look back and think, ‘I wish I hadn’t …’ rather than wistfully saying, ‘I wish I had …’

    Think about where you are…

    As you think about your career, your life, and your plans for the future, you are, at the very least, going to have to contemplate some uncomfortable choices about yourself, your personal style and your level of happiness.

    I make no apologies for this – that’s just life. But I contend that it is better to take the time and spend the effort now to improve the choices that you make for later, rather than to have those choices made for you at a time that may not suit you.

    Some people get these choices unerringly right and they do so early in their lives. Others come to a realization of the right path much later in life. Ray Kroc changed his whole approach to his McDonald’s business in his early 50s. [1] Colonel Sanders didn’t start his KFC franchising efforts until he was in his early 60s.[2] And the list can go on.

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    It’s never too early and it’s never too late – but you have to think about it.

    How to Choose the Right Path

    Do you know at what phase of life are you now? Once you understand where you are now, the next step is to find the direction you want to move to.

    You have the motivation and direction to take your life where you need it to be, you just need to get up and do it. The best time for change is now, and if you procrastinate any further you might miss out on a great opportunity.

    To live a meaningful life, it is important to pick a direction that brings both peace and success. Here are some things to take into consideration when choosing a new direction in life:

    1. Chose What Your Inner Child Would Want

    It is very important to acknowledge the needs and opinions of our ‘inner child’. That’s because we often have real happiness at this age and develop passions that last us a lifetime. To calibrate your direction in life, think of what the younger you would feel about your current situation and what would they want to do.

    2. Think About The Things You Want To Change

    Make a list of the things in your current life that you are dissatisfied with and want to change. Then think of the alternative options you have to give yourself a life where you find happiness and fulfillment by avoiding these things. This will help you understand what must be done to feel good in life.

    3. Find Inspiration to Follow

    Everyone has an idea of what they want in life and finding inspiration isn’t hard in this day and age. Just think about those you admire and see as role models and try to follow in their footsteps. As they have already reached a place you associate to be a goal, you will find it easier to navigate your way through life to reach that destination as well.

    4. Be Clear on What You Don’t Want To Be

    To find out where you want to be headed in life, try finding out where you don’t want to end up. This would help identify situations and placed you would try and avoid at all costs. It keeps you on the right track because if you minimize the wrong paths, then choosing the right one becomes much easier.

    5. Learn to Enjoy Where You Are

    There is no such thing as a perfect life. What you need to learn, is to work hard and to find things to be happy and grateful for.

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    Live in the moment, appreciate the things you have. Only this way you will see clearly the meaning of your life.

    6. Commit to Getting or Staying Healthy

    Nothing is more important than your mental, spiritual and physical health.

    Getting your life on the right path isn’t something you can achieve in a day. But, with hard work and dedication, you will get there!

    7. Help Others

    By helping others you will increase your sense of purpose and improve self-esteem.

    There are many ways to do this. Volunteer in your community, mentor young people, or just help neighbors.

    You will be surprised by the feeling you will have after.

    Start Making the Change Today

    After reading all this, you are surely ready to change the direction of your life. Start by making a change today instead of just thinking about it. Every difficult journey starts with a single step, and this is the sign to take yours. Once you make one change, the rest follow suit and soon your life will be exactly how you want it to be.

    Need more help to get out of the rut? Take a look at these articles:

    Featured photo credit: Johannes Plenio via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Britannica: Ray Kroc
    [2] Biography: Colonel Sanders

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