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How To Find Meaning In Your Job And Work Happily

How To Find Meaning In Your Job And Work Happily

Perfect jobs that provide meaning and satisfaction 24/7 might well be illusory. Even dream jobs can become dreary or stressful or appear to lack meaning, and happiness, as a result, becomes elusive.

So how can you find meaning in your job and work happily on a consistent basis?

It is possible to work happily and find meaning in your own job if you incorporate a few key principles and actions into your mind map.

1. Don’t take work for granted

There is an old Greek proverb that says: “How do you get a man to appreciate his donkey?” Answer:  “By taking it away!”

With a world population that’s growing at an alarming rate, anyone who does have a job really should be grateful for their employment, because many people would like to have paid work, but can’t find any.

So … be grateful for your job.

2. Understand your values

Work can only be really meaningful if it’s part of your life’s purpose and your life’s purpose will most likely be aligned with your values.

Become clear about your values because they will help you find happiness in your job.

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So how do you clarify your values?

Make a list of the 5 things that are most important in your life – Think about things like; family, friends, spirituality, money, career, work/life balance. Then ask yourself how your job is serving those values, and write down the answers.

Once you understand how your life values are being met at work, you’ll feel more aligned with your job.

3. Turn your dreams into reality

If you have a grand dream about your career–maybe you want a big promotion, or want to work for yourself–  find ways of turning the dream into reality. You might have to work harder than anyone else to make it happen, but it might ultimately give you the chance to do what you want to do and so work happily in the long run.

Make a list of small steps that can be taken to move you closer to your dream, and commit to doing one of these things each day. These steps can be as small as “Find one website related to my dream job and read everything on it.” or “Sign up for an email newsletter related to my ideal industry.” Do one thing each day that will move you closer to your dream. You’ll be surprised how small but consistent actions can quickly move you closer to achieving your big ideas.

4. Understand why you work

If you are to be happy at work you need to understand your attitude and reasons for working. There has to be a reason for doing things otherwise you’ll never get out of bed in the morning. Certainly money is a driving force, but there should be other reasons that you keep getting up and getting yourself out the door to go to work.

So what’s important to you? Answer the following to find out:

  1. Do you work for the challenge, or perhaps to gain a sense of achievement?
  2. Do you want to get out of the house to be amongst other people?
  3. Do you want to work for yourself?
  4. Do you want to be highly successful in your chosen field?
  5. Do you want to help others?
  6. Do you want to be creative?

Look at the questions you answered “yes” to.  Does your current job fulfill these needs and desires?  If not, what job would?

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5. Place value on the work that you do

The work you do will invariably touch the lives of others in some positive way – an important fact to realize.

Work becomes more meaningful when it makes a contribution to our own lives and to the lives of others.

Every job has intrinsic meaning. It doesn’t matter what you do. Not only does it give you an income, but it will impact other people or the world we live in.

How does the work you do make a difference to other people in a positive way? How would it impact others if you stopped doing what you do?  Write this down and acknowledge that your work is purposeful and commit to valuing the work you do.

What you do is  useful and if you acknowledge that, then you will give your working hours more meaning.

4. Understand your job’s purpose

Every job has a purpose.  Acknowledging this can help you to feel good about what you do.

List 3 of the more important tasks you are employed to carry out and then write down why it’s necessary to do them well.

Set  goals to do these tasks more effectively and you’ll achieve more, plus you’ll gain additional respect from your colleagues and your employer,  too.

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Having this clear purpose shines the light on how you should spend your time, and you’ll find yourself focusing on what’s important.

 

5. Don’t major in the minor

Wasting time on unimportant tasks is futile and leads to dissatisfaction.

Many people work 10 – 12 hour days and still don’t seem to get anything done.

So major in the major and eliminate anything that wastes time or isn’t important in your work day.  Set yourself goals to complete the important tasks that need doing, rather than focusing on bits and pieces. Make a to-do list and check things off as you go along.  This will keep you organized and on-task, and you’ll be surprised at how satisfying it is to make those check marks.

 

6. Get real about what you want

There are obvious attractions for working, and earning money is probably top of the list, but unless your underlying wants and needs are also met by going out to work, then you’re unlikely to be happy on a day to day basis.

So beyond just earning money think about what you want work to deliver.

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  1. Is job security important to you?
  2. Would flexible- time working arrangements suit you better?
  3. Do you want a promotion or a pay raise?
  4. Would you like training opportunities to develop your skills?
  5. Is a pension plan important to you or would a sports or recreation club at work make you happier?
  6. Would working from home be the right option for you?

Look at your “yes” answers.  Is your current job meeting these needs?  If not, it’s time to talk to your boss.  If that doesn’t get you anywhere, it’s time to start planning for a career change.

Having your subsidiary needs met is important to a sense of contentment at work and working happily.

7. Have the right attitude

Having a good attitude at work is immensely powerful and it’s a precursor to being happy and successful in your job. Not everyone is born with a great attitude; many people are gloomy or negative, or they think that it’s all about them and their wonderful CV.

A good attitude is something that everyone can work on and improve with practice and mindfulness. Learning good interpersonal skills, in particular, is integral to your happiness at work. If you can learn to consider others in a consistent way, they will respond in kind, and your work will be much more satisfying.

  1. Make people feel good about themselves – always find something nice to say.
  2. Ask questions about your colleagues and be interested in them.
  3. Be respectful, and be thankful for any advice or help you’re given.
  4. Be helpful.
  5. Learn to compromise.
  6. Try to be cheery because cheeriness begets cheeriness.

So c’mon. Smile! Work happily and find meaning in your job. You’re worth it!

I’d like to thank and acknowledge the following resources:

Life Coaching for Work by Eileen Mulligan (Judy Piatkus [Publishers] Limited 2000)

Why People Fail by Siimon Reynolds (Penguin Books 2010)

The Work We Were Born To Do by Nick Williams (Element Books Limited 1999)

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

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