We spend a lot of time at work.
And the dream, naturally, is to spend your time working on something meaningful and engaging.
So many of us find so little meaning in the activity we do for so many hours in a week that it’s really worth the time to look more closely at how you experience that time.
And you don’t have to have the perfect job that has great people, that aligns with your personal values, is in the ideal location, etc.
You don’t have to quit your job to find meaning in your work, either.
Especially millennials – who grew up with stories like Steve Jobs or Google and entered an increasingly fragmented job market – have really taken startup culture to heart.
Work at a breakneck pace so that you can retire at 30 to travel the world. Go from job to job until you can start your own business and be your own boss. Don’t trust the establishment because they’ll only screw you over, anyway.
But all this has done is made us give up our own responsibility.
I’ve seen so many of my generation quit jobs to start businesses, only to find that it wasn’t the fairytale dream they thought it was.
Because it doesn’t matter if you’re self-employed or an employee, you decide what you bring to your job.
The last job I worked before moving to my business full-time was one I had a pretty strong dislike for.
Between the 4 am wake-ups, the boss who couldn’t see past his mid-life crisis and coworkers who would have pissed on the perimeter of their territories if they could have, I cried myself to sleep regularly.
But I set a deadline and stuck that sh*t out.
I did what I had to do to make it as bearable for me as I could. I moved my workstation away from the people I didn’t get along with and minimised my involvement in things that just led to misery.
It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty, but I’m glad I stuck it out rather than simply quit when I felt like it got overwhelming.
But I made sure I walked away from it having learned about myself, having pushed my limits and done things outside of my comfort zone.
Gaining perspective is easier when you look back at past workplaces.
Maybe you contributed in some way to better the lives of others or had interactions that were meaningful to you.
Perhaps you found certain parts of the job exciting and interesting and had an opportunity to expand your own skill set.
And maybe all of those experiences moved you in a different direction than you would have gone without them.
Work is a large part of your life, and there are lots of angles to consider.
There may just be a goldmine of personal nuggets waiting for you.
Are you currently fulfilled at work?
- Why or why not?
- What would you like to be different?
- What is the best job that you’ve ever had? Why do you think you liked it?
- What is the worst job you’ve ever had? Why did you take it (or stay longer than you wanted)?
- Does a part-time or full-time position suit you better? Why?
- What are your work values?
- Think of values that bring you emotional fulfilment (being challenged, helping others, influence, etc.) as well as external things that you value (high earnings, job security, having adequate time away from work, etc.).