How to Make it Meaningful...
It's Monday morning.
The alarm goes off and you groan.
You give your snooze button a little love. And a little more... and just a little more.
Finally, there is no more time and you’re pulling on your uniform and racing out the door.
There is a storm of complaints soaking your brain as you commute to work. To your job. To the daily grind. You feel exhausted and frustrated before you even get there. The workweek has not started yet, and you feel confined and hopeless.
Maybe you think, “I need the money. I hate my job, but I have to work.”
Or, “This job sucks, but no one else will hire me.”
Resigned you think, “There is no way out.”
Being stuck in a job that feels meaningless, can be soul-crushing. For most of us, we have to work to earn a living. We work to pay bills, buy groceries, or entertainment and invest in the things we value. But, work isn’t just about the pay-check. Our work helps to build our sense of pride, our feelings of control, capability, and purpose. These play into our sense of job satisfaction.
If your job has become an oppressive obligation, it is time to do something different.
Now, not everyone can just quit and find their ‘dream job’ – as I said there are some real bills to pay! But there is always some shift that you can make. There is always something you can change to improve your sense of job satisfaction. What do you need to change?
Here are four ways of increasing your job satisfaction:
Connect with the Big Picture
So you know that your job isn’t what you want it to be, but do you know what you want instead? Having a vision for what you want is the first step to getting there, instead of here. Having a vision gives you something to look forward to, something to aim at, and the energy to stick with the current job until you can make it happen. Don’t underestimate the power of hope that comes with having a clarified vision. If you can see that this job is a launching pad, a skill builder, a temporary situation, then you’ll gain a sense of purpose, control, and capability.
Maybe changing jobs is something that you can’t do right now or soon. So how do you make your job more meaningful today? Gratefulness might sound like a band-aid solution to a broken leg, but it’s not. I’ve written previously about the five surprising benefits of developing a gratitude practice and set a month-long challenge to help with starting one. When it comes to your job, try finding the smallest things to be grateful for. Maybe it’s the people you meet, the skills you’ve developed, or simply the fact that you have comfortable shoes to wear. Maybe your commute is short (or long if you like driving/riding public transport), or you get a staff discount. Find things to be grateful about and take a moment to feel that sense of gratefulness. That’s the key to this being effective.
Lean into a Challenge
Again maybe leaving the job isn’t an option right now, so how do you make it more meaningful today? Setting yourself a challenge can be a way of bringing more meaning and focus to your work. Competition (with others or by yourself) helps you set goals and so gain a sense of purpose. Maybe it’s completing the work quicker, finding solutions to workflows or problems, or hitting a new target. Maybe it is building a co-worker relationship, going about a task in a creative way, or taking the initiative by thinking outside your role. By giving yourself a new challenge, you can creatively transform your work within the limits of your job.
Start that Course / Side Hustle
Another option is looking at your time outside of work. What are you spending it on? What if you started learning skills for the job that you really want? What if you started a side hustle that might allow you to step away from your current job? By realising that you have control over what you choose to do when you are ‘off duty’, you can regain a sense of meaning. Next time you are ‘off duty’ put your thinking cap on – what would make your ‘off duty’ time meaningful? What changes do you need to make so that this job does not control your life?
You don’t have to keep grinding away without meaning. There is a way forward that includes job satisfaction. What is one thing that you will do differently this working week?