What if I tell you that a meaningful work does not necessarily lead to a purposeful, motivating career?
I have been there. I am guessing that you, too have experienced it at one point in your life. Maybe you are going through that experience now.
We all want to feel enthusiastic, purposeful, fist-bumping-kind happy when we head to the office on Monday mornings, or Tuesday mornings, even Friday mornings. Who wouldn’t?
But this is where we get it wrong sometimes – in looking for purpose, we pay too much attention to “the bigger picture” and forget about the process of getting the job done.
While it’s true that some work appear more purposeful than others, the attempt of romanticizing our job will only lead us to a deeper state of disillusion.
So, then how do we find purpose and worth in our 9-5 job when we can’t find it?
3 Simple Steps to Find Purpose in your Job
1. Choose to Connect.
Go out of your way and genuinely connect with your colleagues by engaging in meaningful conversations. Strive to be the person in your workplace who builds others up, not one who cuts them down. Even when you need to correct, confront or reprimand a co-worker, do it with respect.
Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President of Operations for the Walt Disney World® Resort, in his book Career Magic in page 116 wrote this: “In those days, I would beat around the bush & tell the person at the end of an hour conversation that I had to let her or him go. I also probably blamed it on someone else which isn’t a trait of a great leader. After that I learned to tell her or him quickly when we were together that they were terminated and then spend the next hour telling them why so they wont repeat their mistakes and behaviour in their next position.“
When you have the authority – say you’re the supervisor, a team leader or a manager – avoid power playing. You can joke about it (like I do, ask my staff), but don’t do it. Power playing is workplace bullying. It’s a bad, bad thing 🙁
Another way to connect is not to engage in gossip of any kind. You know it’s gossip when you talk about someone who is not present. (I’m guilty of this, too 😛 ). If you can’t talk about it when the person is present, just don’t talk about it, period.
Still one good way to connect is to learn people’s names including the names of the security guards, the janitors, even the courier guy who drops off documents in your office.
You’ll never know when taking even just a few minutes to connect with anyone can impact their lives in a positive way, sometimes in ways we have never imagined.
Too often we are too self-absorbed we forget there are people around us. Take your eyes off yourself for a while and see others.
Long after your co-workers forget the latest report you’ve presented, the project you’ve finished or the meeting agenda you discussed, they will remember you for how you connected to them and how you made them feel.
Life isn’t about building the business, it’s building the people. ~Donald Miller~
Bottom line, how you treat the people around you at work communicates more about your values and your faith than almost anything else you do in your office.
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. ~Philippians 2:1-4, The Message
2. Choose to celebrate progress not perfection.
Measure your progress. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small. If you cleared the paper jam in the printer without asking technical help, give yourself a pat on the back. That’s improvement.
Go beyond good. Challenge yourself to constantly improve. Keep growing. A small win is still a win.
You can ask feedback from your supervisor or manager, even clients, as appropriate and be receptive.
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. ~Colossians 3:17, 23, The New Living~
3. Choose your Attitude.
There are many things about your job that you cannot control, but your attitude is not one of them. I know, easier said than done, that’s why I say ‘choose’.
Choosing does not always go with whether you feel like doing it. Doing it even when you don’t feel like doing it is choosing.
Choose to look for the positive in every project, every staff meeting, every memo and document that lands on your table.
Find a connection to something that lights a spark and focus your thoughts there. Maybe it’s the font on the memo, or the opportunity in the project or the food in the staff meeting.
Just choose. A positive attitude. No matter.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. ~Philippians 4:8-9, The Message~
Your Workplace is Your Mission Field
There is no line between a Jesus follower and your physical jobs. Do not view your time at work as less valuable or less meaningful or less purposeful.
Working 30-40 hours a week can add up to about 80,000 hours in your lifetime. That’s more time spent than attending a church service, a small group meeting, a Bible study class, doing a hobby, volunteering or other activities you do.
God says that we are to work.
If He called us to work, it’s not because He wants to fill our time on this earth with “less significant” activity. It is for us to shine and show His glory.
Purposeful work is understanding that your job is not a distraction or a diversion. It is part of God’s plan. Start seeing it that way.
Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty. ~2 Thessalonians 3:10-13, The Message~
What does your work mean to you?
Is it inspiring and invigorating, or does it feel like drudgery?
Are you making an impact or just doing what you have to do?
What would it look like to start working with purpose?
Why not try doing one of the three ways I suggested and let’s see what happens next.