If you're anything resembling a walking, talking human being - at some point in your working life, you've probably strived for the elusive 'perfect job' that provides you with 100% meaning & satisfaction.
However, even dream jobs can start to become stressful, dreary and meaningless. Sometimes it becomes a matter of how you approach the job mentally and emotionally, rather than how 'perfect' the job actually seems.
So how can you find happiness and meaning in your work on a more consistent basis?
1. Don't take work for granted
All it takes is a little perspective. Realising that there are many people out there that are looking for work is one of the key ways to keep you grounded, and to recognise that you actually have a pretty good thing going.
Just think for a second... If your job was taken away from you tomorrow, how would you feel? Would you be grateful, or really stressed out? More so, how would it impact your current lifestyle and the things you love doing?
2. Understand your values
Work can only really be valuable when you are able to place its importance next to your life's purpose, and therefore the things you value in your life.
For example, family & friends, money, career, work/life balance or being able to travel.
If there are things that you value in your life that are facilitated by you having a job, this is when you will start seeing how important it is that you are in this position.
3. Understand why you work
If you're to be happy at work, you need to understand your reasons for working. While the main motivator might be money, there should be other reasons that get you out the door in the morning.
Look at what you've answered yes to - and if your job doesn't satisfy your needs & desires, then what job will?
4. Place value on the work that you do
The job that you do is likely to be creating a positive difference in somebody's life - and it's really important to realise this.
Rather than it all being about you and your happiness, work becomes so much more meaningful when you realise that it's making a positive contribution to other people's lives as well.
Every job has some sort of intrinsic meaning. While it may also benefit you by giving you an income, it will have impacted another person or the world we live in.
Some questions to ask yourself:
How does your work make a difference to other people? How would they be impacted if you stopped? Write these down and acknowledge that your work is purposeful, and commit to valuing the work that you do.
5. Understanding your job's purpose
Every job has a purpose, and acknowledging this will help you feel good about what you do.
It's as simple as listing out a few of the important things that you do in your role and writing down why it's important to do them well.
Having this clear purpose laid out will make it clear where your priorities should lie in your work, and the drive should come from understanding why it's important to do your job well. It will help you to focus on what is important.
6. Cut out the unimportant
What's more unfulfilling then doing futile tasks that aren't actually important?
If it feels like your list is constantly growing, but you're not actually getting anywhere, it's probably time to reevaluate what type of tasks you're doing that take up time in your day, but aren't useful to the outcome.
By eliminating anything that is unimportant or wastes time - you can focus on the more meaningful, productive parts of your job. Writing to-do lists and checking things off as you go is one way to keep on track.
7. Get real about what you want
There are obvious reasons why you work, but unless your underlying wants and needs are met, you're probably not going to be very happy in your job on a daily basis.
Beyond just the money-making aspect, think about what exactly it is that you want work to deliver.
Is it job security? Flexibility? A promotion or pay rise? Training & development opportunities? Working remotely? A retirement plan or recreational activity?
If there are the types of things that are important to you, and you realise your current job isn't meeting your needs - it may be time to talk to your boss. If that doesn't get you anywhere, it might be time to start planning for a career change.
8. The right attitude.
Arguably the most important of the list, having a good attitude is an immensely powerful tool in the quest to finding meaning in your job.
While not everyone is born with a great attitude, thankfully, it is something that can be learnt and practised as well.
Learning good interpersonal skills, in particular, is integral to your happiness at work. Happiness begets happiness - so if you're able to create a positive environment, chances are that you'll be happier at work, and so will everyone else around you.
Sometimes it's not necessarily about finding the most perfect job in the world. It's about changing your mindset and attitude, and understanding the importance of your role in the grand scheme of things. This may sound a little cheesy... But, happiness comes from within.
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