Before you start reading, stop and think: what would make your job seem more meaningful? If you can’t think of anything, then I guess that’s why you’re here. It’s true that sometimes life and our work can seem pretty meaningless. Whether you’ve just started your job, or have been in the same company for 5 years, it does get to a point where you start to wonder “why am I here?”
Many of us are stuck on auto-pilot. And our working days aren’t any better: the same meetings, the same daily tasks and the same targets. If you’re coming home from work feeling less than satisfied, or wondering what it is you’re actually contributing, then we’ve got 5 tips to help you achieve more meaning out of your days and beyond…
1. Focus on why not what
This is pretty self-explanatory, and I’m not saying it to sound patronising, but the little word “why” could be the biggest help in finding more meaning in your day. Start asking yourself some simple questions, then mentally (or physically) jot down the answers. I’ll get you started:
- Why do you get up in the morning?
- Why do you go to work?
- Why did you apply for your current role?
Perhaps you’ve got to the stage where your To-Do list has become more and more extensive; you’re ticking off so many tasks but still feel like something is missing… The fact is, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, or how much you do, if you’re just not that into it.
Rather than focus on the trigger-happy reward of completing a task, focus on how you feel during or after doing it: Does it make you genuinely happy? Do you feel like you’ve contributed to something bigger than yourself? Understanding this will help you to get more meaning out of your day, and motivate you to do more of those particular tasks that unveil these positive feelings.
2. Do the hardest thing first
Similar to the above, doing loads of different things to counteract that one task you constantly put off — which is probably the most important — is meaningless. Instead, it’s far more beneficial to start your day doing the one thing you hate the most. I know this sounds like I’m signing off your death warrant, but there is reason behind my madness.
Firstly, when you do the hardest task first, you immediately overcome that feeling of dread; it’s over and done with, and you can move on. Secondly, once you’ve done the said task, you instantly feel more productive and strong-willed, ready to take on the world, so to speak. This is because the worst is over, and now the day is not only easier but more meaningful.
To demonstrate, let’s take something simple like sorting out your insurance, something we all despise. Yes, waiting on hold for 2 hours, getting stressed out with the robot on the other end and filling out a phone survey makes your blood boil… But when it’s finally done, you feel so relieved and happy that you could kiss a tree!
The cliché “quality, not quantity” can really apply here: meaning is not about how much you’ve achieved in one day, but how you spent your time effectively.
3. Avoid buzzing distractions
Do you concentrate on your work for 5 minutes, then scroll on social media for the next 10? It’s easily done, especially if you’re working remotely and have no one breathing down your neck. But these types of distractions are bound to make you feel like you’ve wasted your day — especially when you start to compare how “busy” and “productive” everyone else is on Instagram.
It’s difficult to stay committed to your work when your mind wanders, or you just lacklustre. One of the most rewarding things you can do is remove all electronics during the working day. If you have a safe, this is the perfect place to store your phone (and any other devices) that don’t serve you whilst you try to hustle. Not only will this help you to focus on yourself, but also it will encourage you to use your brain space more effectively, therefore, cultivating more meaningful days.
4. Ask and give feedback
A really easy way to get more meaning out of your day is to speak to your supervisor, colleague or even a friend, and ask them to give you some positive and constructive feedback. We tend to shy away from criticism, or avoid shedding light on our mistakes; but getting feedback will help you to learn, grow and find out where you can improve. Yet at the same time, you become more aware of your strengths — and this is where we also find meaning in our work, and confidence in our abilities.
Sometimes we find it hard to self-compliment, especially when we’ve been doing a particular job for so long that it becomes second nature, and we start to wonder whether we are actually good at it. It’s also quite common to feel upset that your contribution has gone unnoticed, and question whether fellow teammates would even notice if you were gone. This is when it’s useful to clarify these qualms by asking another person for an unbiased opinion.
Asking for feedback is especially good when you feel like your hard work goes unnoticed. Alternatively, you could offer guidance or give feedback to someone else when they are in need. This type of altruism gives you a sense of meaning, and there’s nothing like giving someone a supportive nudge to leave you feeling like your work matters.
5. Find a new way of doing something
Again, in a similar vein to doing your job a certain way, you can get bored of it; so it seems like it’s meaningless or dull. However, when you find a new or different way of doing a task, it brings more spice and all things nice.
A weird example is that I am used to cutting pineapple with a particular knife; I always use it without fail. My dad noticed me struggling, and said I should try using the serrated bread knife. Initially, I thought this was silly, but just to appease him, I tried using this other knife. Well, it was truly magical. It turns out (to my dismay) that this was much easier and satisfying than my previous hack-job. This analogy can be applied to how you approach your day at work.
Ask someone how they would do a particular task or just try it from another angle. It’s human nature to learn and evolve, so it’s normal to become disinterested in our day when we do the same thing on repeat. Therefore getting a new perspective helps to keep the spark up, whilst also wielding new skills.
A meaningful end…
If you feel like you’re stuck on a train that’s going nowhere, I feel you. Maybe you need a change in direction, or you just need to find more nuance in your day. Try to focus on how you feel doing something rather than what you’ve been doing, but remember that it all counts.
Just because you might not have discovered the COVID Vaccine doesn’t mean that your role at work is worthless. We all compare ourselves to others without realising how much we already give to the world, simply by just being. Hopefully, these tips will help you to get more meaning out of your day, and turn it into something more eventful.
Written by Naida Allen
WellBe is spearheading the way to a brighter future for corporate wellness. Our innovative portal is scientifically designed and tailored to each individual employee to improve their wellbeing. We specialise in a range of services from coaching and therapists, to meditation and reading materials. Our aim is to reduce workplace stress that costs UK businesses £42 billion per year. Get in touch with us by visiting our site wellbe.global for more information.