What do you accomplish at work? Yes, you earn an income to live on, but a focus on more than getting your work done can add depth not only to your workday, but to your life. When you want your job to be more than a job, there needs to be meaning. Determine what adds meaning to your life at work, and try to incorporate it as much as possible.
Here are some things to consider as you think through adding meaning to your day:
Establish a Clear Vision
Do you know why you’re doing the work you are? This might seem like a ridiculous question at first, but there is importance in knowing how the work you’re doing fits into the bigger picture of the company, why it matters, and what need it’s filling.
Knowing where you are headed – and why – not only adds purpose to your actions, but it increases your productivity, both in terms of daily work and the accomplishments you achieve. Clarity of vision leads to stronger individuals and companies. Understand your company’s mission and how your work factors in. Develop your personal vision, and assess how well you are accomplishing your work, how you’re growing, and where it all might lead.
It’s okay to not have clear answers to these questions because they develop over time, but give these questions the attention they deserve. Tools like the Storyline Conference are designed to help you assess the story you are living. If you can easily say you don’t think where you are will lead where you want to go, it’s time to think about how you’re spending your valuable time.
Challenges keep the mind fresh, leading to quicker thinking and higher-quality production. As you get the work before you done, take the extra challenge and look for opportunities for innovation. Your experience with the work you’re doing leads to expertise; use that knowledge to look for opportunities for improvement. You’re able to see new and better ways to get things done. Choose to do something about the problems you see around you. Developing innovative processes not only makes you a more valuable employee or leader, but it also changes the way you see and shape the world around you.
More than simply a “Pollyanna” approach to life, choosing thankfulness opens your eyes to the good already present in your life. In a world that seeks more and better, and rewards mentalities that believe “I will be happy when…,” gratitude slows you down to appreciate the moments and stages you are currently in.
Gratitude allows you to see the positives in the work you get to do, how your work is shaping you, and the people you get to work with. Even the worst days have hints of beauty, though it might be something simple, like the sunrise during the drive to work, a hot cup of coffee, the ability to be productive, or the fact that you have a job to go to. There are always things to be grateful for, and though it’s not a reason to avoid change, gratitude alters your awareness of what is happening.
Work to Your Strengths
Is your job using your greatest strengths? We feel the most effective and productive when we’re operating in our strengths. Take assessments like StrengthsFinder and evaluate how much your work relies on your strengths. Look for opportunities to maximize your strengths in your job.
Most companies want their organizations to be as productive as possible by helping employees work in their strengths. If you’re a leader, do you need to hire someone so you can better work to your strengths? If you’re an employee, does your boss know your strengths? Look for ways you can add value to the organization, in both meeting company needs and using the strengths you possess.
See Other People
Have eyes for the people around you. What’s a day for if you’re not making it better for other people in some way? This could mean having a conversation about someone else’s project, caring about your client beyond closing the sale, or being aware when others around you need encouragement or challenge.
The ability to really see what’s going on not only leads to healthier relationships, but it also creates more productive workspaces and natural collaboration. For example, having a conversation about someone else’s project will help you feel like you’re contributing (because your perspective is valuable). It also gives you a break from being narrowly focused on your own work, granting a bigger perspective than the computer screen in front of you, and it could even lead to business relationships.
Make an Impact
Does your work matter? Are you simply getting things done, or are you making things better because of your existence, perspective, and effort? Look for ways your company can become more efficient, and seek opportunities for social impact with the work your company does. Much more than a PR move, having a social component in the workplace adds a depth of purpose behind the hard work; it validates the effort you and the rest of your company are putting in.
Look for opportunities to get involved. Think creatively and talk to your leader about the opportunities you see. If your company isn’t interested in starting a new program, that doesn’t prevent you from using the skills you’re honing at work to impact the world. Being aware of your skillset, and what you can do to help the world, adds clarity of vision. It allows you to see yourself as part of a solution to problems in the world.
Though money and professional goals can be exciting, they can be regret-inducing if they’re devoid of meaning. Fill your days with hard work and success that’s rich in value. It will not only enhance your daily existence, but it will also brighten the lives of those around you.
Heidi Fuhrman is the Director of Possibilities for The League of Innovators in Columbia, Mo., an organization that seeks to spark entrepreneurship and creativity through events (like Startup Weekend), workspaces, and connecting innovators to area resources and experts. Heidi loves early mornings, black coffee, social enterprises, and being outside. Connect with Heidi on Google+ and Twitter.
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Category: Personal Branding