For most of us, work is not something we enjoy. But it’s what fills a large part of our lives. Without it, we’ll never learn, we’ll never experience, and we’ll never build ourselves to who we want to be.
Work comes with a heavy price though – for one, it consumes time. It becomes monotonous, tiring, stressful, and sometimes even draining. On top of that, it strips us of much freedom we have throughout a day and only gives back some throughout the year for us to keep our sanity (otherwise known as “vacation” days). But beneath it all, work is the very thing that pays for our comfortable existence. And when it becomes a part of our life, we begin to find that everything else in our lives outside of work can only orbit around it.
So if we’re going to spend so much time doing it, how do you find meaning out of work?
1. Take a glimpse at the bigger picture of things
This may comes more easily for some people than others but I believe everybody has the ability to think outside the box every now and then and view our life from a larger perspective. Sure, we have work piling up every morning, meetings to go to, and deadlines to meet but in the midst of all the little things, it’s important to look at the bigger picture of why we do what we do. Ask questions like, what does my job mean for people? How is it affecting others and those around me? How is it affecting my own life and who I am?
So often we’ll get too caught up with our day-to-day activities that we forget to reflect, plan, and then dream of where we want our lives to go. This is why I think it’s vital to find quiet time to ourselves no matter how busy the day is.
2. Remember to connect the dots
Especially for the career-driven & aspiring young men and women – remember that successful careers aren’t built overnight. They take years & often decades to build up to. So don’t be impatient. Know that there are stepping stones – and lots of them. I believe these stepping stones are essential to people holding higher positions & responsibilities. Without them, you’ll have leaders who were given their position (maybe by previous generations or their family network) and often times those are the people who have absolutely no idea how to lead.
Above all, always check your ego at the door. Don’t ever think you’re ‘too important’ to brew coffee in the morning or to help lend an extra hand to a co-worker in need. Great leaders are ones who understand how to serve. Understand these things and one day you’ll look back and connect the dots of how you became the person you dreamed to become.
3. What you Love
I’m not talking about going off and dating your co-worker. I’m talking about finding the things you love, the work that you’re truly passionate about, the things outside of work that your heart has great compassion for. I think the best time to really pursue your heart is in college when you have that freedom to chase after those things you love without being tied down by any real responsibilities.
And when you find where your heart is for in all these things, somehow the career paths you take and the work choices you make will all begin to come together to bring content that goes deeper than anything else. And when you’ve found worth in life, you’ll find everything you need to finding meaning in the workplace.
Fourth year undergrad at UTD.