Most people want their work to matter–to make a difference in their own life and the life of others. But too often, instead of being a source of meaning and joy, work turns out to be a hardship, and the work place becomes a source of unhappiness.
People drop by our gallery, talk about art, their life, their kids and their work. Sometimes they complain. I used to say “well why don’t you do this”, or “why don’t you talk to him or her about this?”, but I stopped. I’m there to talk about art not give counseling. And when I’ve made these suggestions, I never see them again. My partner tells me they just want to “stress out.” I agree with him.
With consulting clients it is different. I encourage and push the clients to take a new action or go in a new direction. That is after all why they hired me.
If you’re looking for more meaning in your work, here are some suggestions:
1. Think about your work in a larger context. Who are you serving beyond yourself? A baker is making many people happy with his food. A teacher serves the student and the community.
2. Always ask yourself, “how can I add value?”. Think about where you can add value to the organization? What is the unique contribution I can make? Is this organization one where I can make a contribution? If not, it may be time to leave?
3. Say “no” more. You don’t have to get angry about it, but there are those tasks that frustrate and bore you. Say no to some of them, all of them. Say you’re too busy or have another meeting, but do less of them.
4. Stop complaining. Recognize that complaining-especially to the wrong people–doesn’t help–and drives people away.
5. Hang out with the best people in your organization. Find people with similar values, goals and spend time with them. Stay away from people who bring you down, tire you out. You might be able to lick each others wounds, but when the bitching is over, you’re both exhausted.
6. Reduce the number of meetings you go to. You know you can. And if you run meetings, make them shorter. Meetings suck the juice out of people.
Want more meaning from work? Try these 6 strategies.