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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 September 20, 2018

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

How to Be Happy at Work and Find Fulfillment in Your Career

If you’re going to spend 1/3 of our life at work, you should enjoy it, right?

Trust me, I know that’s easier said than done. Difficult coworkers, less-than-desirable tasks, or even just being in the wrong position can all lead to a lack of enjoyment and fulfillment in your work.

But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? Or better yet, if you struggle with all of the above (and then some), what if I told you that enjoying your work and finding fulfillment regardless of those obstacles is possible?

Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you because I was there too. Before implementing the tips below, I struggled to get through each day, much less find real fulfillment, in the office. Now, even after the toughest days on the job, I still come away with feelings of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. The best news is, so can you.

If you’re ready to make those hours count and find happiness and fulfillment in the office, then read on to find out how to be happy at work and find fulfillment in your career:

1. Discover the root(s) of the problem

For this first step, we’ll need to think back to 8th-grade physics (humor me). We all know Newton’s 3rd law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” When you think about it, the same can be said outside of physics, and we see this law play out in our daily lives, day after day.

Simply put, all the issues we deal with in the office (and life in general) affect us in a noticeable way.

If you’re appreciated at work, like the work you do and receive frequent praise, promotions, or raises, then this will probably have an altogether positive effect on your life in the office.

But what if we reverse this? What if you feel under appreciated, get passed up for promotions, or get denied raises? This is sure to affect the way you feel at work on a negative level.

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So, before you can implement the steps of feeling happy and fulfilled at work, we first have to discover the reasons why you don’t feel that way already.

Think about it, write a list, or make a mental note. Run through all the reasons you’re dissatisfied in the office, and don’t hold back. Knowing the exact obstacles you’re facing will make overcoming them that much easier.

In fact, as a side-challenge to this article, I recommend picking the top three reasons contributing to your dissatisfaction at work and using the following tips to tackle them.

2. Practice gratitude for an instant uplift

Did you know the simple act of feeling grateful can increase your happiness and make you more fulfilled at work?[1]

Well, it’s true, and it’s scientifically proven.

Dr. Lisa Firestone notes that practicing gratitude “reminds us of what we lacked in the past.” Meaning, it serves as both a boost to happiness and a bit of a wake-up call that things have been or could be, much worse.

Trying to conjure up feelings of gratitude can seem almost impossible when your work situation seems bleak, but hear me out: There are incredibly easy ways to get started and it doesn’t involve trying to “force” yourself to feel grateful about things that stress you out.

For an instant pick-me-up, try this:

Find a loose piece of paper, a blank sticky note, or anything you can write on, be it physical or digital. List just three things that you are absolutely without-a-doubt thankful for in your life.

Now here’s the trick: Don’t just list what you’re grateful for, you have to list why you’re grateful for them, too.

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For example, simply saying “I’m grateful for my kids” will probably make you feel good, sure, but what if we could amplify the warm, fuzzy feeling into real, lasting motivation?

Instead, write the reason you’re so thankful for your children. Is it because they make you laugh and forget about other stressors? Or maybe they help to remind you of why you go to work every day in the first place?

Whatever your reasons may be, jot them down and keep your list somewhere you can see it while you work. A quick glance at your gratitude list throughout the day can provide powerful, positive motivation to keep going.

Bonus:

If you can find just three things to be thankful for that specifically relate to your job, and list why those things make you grateful, your list can also help you find fulfillment in your work itself which can give you an even bigger boost of positivity throughout the day.

3. Take meaningful time for yourself

We all know creating a strong work-life balance can be crucial to feeling satisfied in our jobs, but rarely do we ever address how we’re spending our time outside of work.

Many of us survive a 9-hour work day and commute home only to find ourselves busy with our personal to-do lists, running a household, and taking care of a child (or 2 or 3, and so on).

If you spend all your time working, whether in the office or within your household, you’re going to feel drained at some point. This is why setting meaningful time for yourself every day is highly important.

Look, I get it: I don’t know anyone in the working world who can shun all responsibility for a 3-movie marathon or happy hour with friends whenever they feel like it. But finding time for yourself, be it just 30 minutes to an hour, can really make a difference in how you feel at work.

This works because you’ll have time to actually relax and let the day’s stress melt away while you enjoy something just for you. The to-do lists and stressors will still be there after you’re refreshed and ready to tackle them.

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No time for me-time? Try this:

If you have a busy household, you’ll need to capitalize on a block of time you know will be completely uninterrupted. The easiest way to do this: try waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier than usual (or push bedtime back an hour if you’re a night owl, like me) and take time to do something you enjoy.

This could be reading with a cup of tea, catching up on Facebook, spending time on a passion project—anything! As long as it’s meaningful to you, it works!

Bonus:

Starting your day with meaningful time for yourself can set you up to have a positive mood that lasts well into office hours, and having your me-time in the evening can give you something positive to look forward to during the day.

4. Get productive and feel accomplished

Don’t you just love the feeling of checking the last item off of a hefty to-do list? That’s because self-motivation can be a huge driver of positivity and success.

When we accomplish something, no matter how small, it makes us feel good, plain and simple. Applying this tactic to your daily work can be the motivator you need to find fulfillment during the daily office grind.

While there are tons of steps to get more done at work, I’ll share my personal favorite: Prioritizing.

Now, many people handle prioritizing differently. Some like to tackle the little tasks first so they can spend focused time on the big to-dos. Others like to knock out the big items first and get to the smaller ones when they can.

No matter which camp you’re in, you may be missing one crucial step: Time management.

So how’s this work? When you factor in the amount of time your priorities will take, it can transform your productivity ten-fold.

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Say you have three top priorities for the day. You might jump into the smaller ones or the bigger ones depending on your preferred method, and then find yourself out of time and bringing work home with you at the end of the day.

This is prevented when you factor in time. Knowing how long each item will take, or deliberately setting specific blocks of time for your priorities can help you accomplish more in the same 8-9 (or 12) hours that you typically spend at work.

Try this:

Take a look at your priorities and consider how long they should take. Pop into your Google calendar (or Filofax, whatever works for you) and schedule time to work on your priority items around any important meetings or events of the day.

The most important thing to remember is to stick to your dedicated time.

Often, when we know exactly how long we have to work on something (and honor this time limit), we’re motivated to get more done on time to avoid taking work home at the end of the day.

The bottom line

There’s no need to waste 1/3 of our lives feeling unsatisfied at work. Luckily, you now have the tools to get started, take back your time, and become happy and fulfilled at work again.

The only question is — which tip will you try first?

Featured photo credit: Ellyot via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Psychology Today: The Healing Power of Gratitude

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