A focus on meaningfulness elevates every job, no matter how humble or exalted.
Not all jobs are dream jobs. Some are just a temporary means to an end. A few are the best you can find at the moment.
Still, we spend far too many hours at any job to be miserable, so it’s smart to seek out ways we can bring the joy.
Or, if not joy, then at least a measure of satisfaction.
For starters, know that meaningfulness often arises from focusing on the impact our work has on others. So try reframing your job in terms of the good it does customers, clients and co-workers. An insurance saleswoman who thinks of her work as rescuing people in their times of need, for example, is far more likely to enjoy her duties than someone who defines success solely as number of claims processed.
It also helps to identify the role your work plays in the larger scheme of things. Say that a part of your job involves cleaning up spills. Not only is this decidedly unglamorous, it doesn’t seem like a very meaningful activity, does it? But if you consider that a clean, spill-free floor creates a more esthetically pleasing and safer work environment, then the importance of the work becomes evident. One thing to always remember: Even the most “humble” job is worthy of respect — yours and everybody else’s.
On a day-to-day basis, it’s a good idea to look for ways you can bring creativity to your role. Put your stamp on the job. The work will go faster and be far more interesting to you — this applies especially to any repetitive task.
You can also get more out of your job if you’re always learning. Volunteering for special projects, signing up for classes, cross-training with people in other departments all make your daily responsibilities more engaging, and turn you into a more valuable employee, too.
Finally, meaning comes from mastery. Doing a task, any task, completely and well is satisfying. A focus on excellence sets you on a path to both career and life happiness.
Perhaps the job you have now isn’t going to change the world anytime soon. But finding the deeper meaning in what you do, and doing it well, can make your corner of it a better and more joyful place.