At the beginning of a new job or career, work can be very exciting - even exhilarating. As time moves on, what was once exciting can become mundane. What was once energizing can become draining. Unfortunately, this lack of meaning and purpose at work becomes the unfortunate reality for many over the long course of a career. According to a 2015 Gallup survey, less than a third of employees are fully engaged in their jobs. That same study also found that there is very little correlation between money and meaning. That means that regardless of how much you’re being paid to do a job, it can still make you feel miserable and unfulfilled. If you find yourself lacking passion and feeling disengaged, the good news is that you are in complete control over your circumstances.
1. Start With Your Relationships
If you’re looking for meaning at your job, it may be as simple as creating and nurturing a few friendships. In fact, Gallup found that people who have a best friend at work are 7 times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and those with a good friend are more likely to be satisfied. To make some new friends commit 30 minutes each day to relationship building within your office and in 3-6 months check in with yourself to see if your outlook on your current job situation has changed.
2. Search For Meaning In Your Current Role
Ask yourself - what initially attracted you to the role when you first went after it? Once you identify that, you can reframe the negativity you might have about the position and hone in on fixing what’s causing your dissatisfaction. Next, think about the value you bring to your role on a larger scale. What contribution are you making to the greater good of the world? For example, if you are a computer programer think about the benefits that an end user will have from using your creation rather than the act of programming itself. Finally, If you feel stale in your current role, begin to look for opportunities to work on projects that are of interest to you. A switch in responsibilities might be just what you need.
3. Find Meaning Elsewhere
Work doesn’t NEED to be meaningful. In fact, many people just go to work to collect a paycheck so that they can spend it on other things that bring meaning to your life. If you feel like your job is not bringing you fulfillment, think about some other channels you can derive meaning from. This could be volunteer opportunities in your community, faith based activities, or side “passion projects” that you pursue outside of working hours.
4. Change Your Attitude
Attitude is everything. It’s so easy to get stuck in the monotony and lose the ability to care about what you’re doing or how you’re showing up. If you've been feeling apathetic about your current work environment, why not give it one last ditch effort to see if an attitude shift could change the way you feel. Consider working on your interpersonal skills. If you learn to consider others more thoughtfully, they may respond in a kinder or more helpful way which in turn will make work more enjoyable. Talk therapy or professional coaching is a great way to improve your communication skills and work on perceptive changes.
5. Make a Career Switch
If you’ve exhausted all of these other options, maybe it’s time to consider a career switch. Begin thinking about what you’re passionate about and start looking for jobs that are in line with your skillset and passions. If switching industries is something you are considering, make sure you’re prepared with a plan. That should include preparing a professional resume, honing your interviewing skills, finding the right role, and notifying your employer once you secure a new position (you want to do this gracefully). It can be a very emotional taxing process so you may want to think about working with a career coach to help with the transition.
Career coaching is championing and helping you reach your ultimate career goals and your career coach being with you on that journey. In a coach/client relationship, you hold the agenda. Career coaches provide you with the help, support, and direction you need to achieve the goal(s) you have in mind, reaching them sooner than later when attempting to do it all on your own.
Ask yourself this question: Do you love your job? Or do you spend your Sunday night dreading the following week. If you want to enjoy your work and find meaning in it, remember to look beyond the mundane tasks and focus on the end result that will bring you fulfillment — even if it’s just the paycheck that allows you to feed your family and raise your children. The important thing is that you recognize your core values and honor them. That will lead you to a more aligned work life and create the meaning you need to forge ahead.