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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 March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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