No one likes showing up to a gig 40 hours a week and thinking that all that time and energy is for moot. Whether you're currently pursuing your dream career or are in a cozy job that helps pay the bills, it's important to keep and create purpose in your work. Rather than being a cog in a machine, you need to feel like your presence and man power makes a difference. But I know that can be easier said than done — especially when you settle into a nice routine. Rather than coming into the office excited to tackle projects and learn something new, you come in thinking what you'll get to do once five o'clock finally (mercifully) rolls by.
Which is absolutely no fun. And that is exactly why you need to make the effort to put meaning back into your work and find the aspects about it that makes your heart happy and your hands itch to create. This doesn't only apply to dream jobs — you're able to do exactly the same thing at an office that you're working at just for the experience or the paychecks. It's possible to find inspiration and motivation in anything you do, and I'll show you exactly how. Below are seven ways to put purpose back into your work, and become passionate about what you do!
1. Make It Challenging
We go stale if we dip into a routine and start pushing our nine to five on autopilot. In order to feel like you have purpose in your work, make it challenging. Shake things up in order to be constantly learning, growing, and becoming more and more ambitious.
Career development site Mind Tools recommended, "You just need to figure out what you can do to make sure you don’t allow yourself to go stale at work. Even if the job itself is not all that challenging, you can make it challenging." For example, ask if you can have more responsibility than you're normally used to. Try delving into a subject that you're weak at, forcing you to learn something new. Set yourself bigger performance goals, create an ambitious to-do list, start a passion project. Just stretch yourself.
2. Figure Out What You Love About It
When you've been doing the same thing over and over for a couple of months or years, you lose sight of the amazingness of it. Where once it was a goal being reached or a stepping stone to a higher dream, now it's just another nine to five. In order to find purpose in your job, begin untangling why you're grateful for it.
Leadership coach Marguerite Orane told Huffington Post, "Before you head out for work each morning, find one thing to be grateful for about your job...Also think about the value you create for others at work. You may feel frustrated that you cannot get things done as you like. But you do help people, customers and fellow employees in ways that may seem insignificant to you, but could be very meaningful to the person being helped."
Do you get to be creative? Are you allowed to to grow? Are you doing something you wanted to since high school? Are the people you work with fab? Are you making an impact on people's lives? Iron out the reasons you are grateful for your job, and the rest follows.
3. Go Where Your Passions Lie
Are you a creative type of person? Pitch or volunteer for projects that let you exercise your talents, even if they might be more complex or bigger than you're used to. A problem solver? Pop up with suggestions for hitches in projects and become the go-to guy when things go wrong. Take responsibility for subjects that make you excited, whether that's creating new office workflows or organizing group happy hours.
Steve Errey, confidence coach and contributor to career development site The Muse, offered, "Ask to get involved in that project that you’ve been eying jealously because it’s looks like it really might be something special. Apply a strength or talent (creativity, empathy, problem solving) in your work rather than leaving those things at the door. Or sometimes this might mean retraining, reskilling, or making a move into a company or a career that really lights you up." Don't be scared to step out of line and reach for something that's not typical or is unexpected of you. Follow where your passion sits.
4. Become Close With Your Coworkers
These are the people you spend the majority of your week with — if you befriend them, you can only imagine how much better your work situation will become. Ask them non-small-talk questions while in the office, invite them out to lunch with you, ask if they want to meet up for happy hour. Put on your best house-party-host persona and make them feel important and interesting until you become pals. It'll be well worth it, and it's a lot easier than you might be thinking.
Lifestyle writer Karl Staib shared with Forbes, "The only rule is: Don’t interrupt them. Just let them talk and talk, and they’ll love you. I let one former co-worker tell me about his 'statue' (action figures) collection for over an hour. I just kept asking questions. Needless to say I became his best friend." Be interested, and you'll have a quick friendship.
5. Seize Opportunities
How many opportunities are we handed on a daily basis, only to pass them up because we feel like we don't have enough time/ aren't motivated enough/ or are straight lazy? Stop doing that — grab hold of every opportunity with both hands.
Job writer Adam Smiley Poswolsky from entrepenuer site Fast Co. Exist said, "Build a purposeful career by experimenting with opportunities you actually care about." Whether that means jumping on that project you don't think you can handle, taking those extra courses, tinkering with a passion project on weekends, or taking a leap and asking an industry god out for coffee, it's time to start grabbing.
6. Try To Give More Than You Take
Rather than focusing on me, me, me and wondering what purpose your work is giving you, instead focus on what you're giving back by working. Think about why what you do matters, and cling to it. Leadership development expert Jessica Amortegui told entrepenuer site Fast Company, "In other words, to amp up the meaning in work, we must temper our taking tendencies and dial up our acts of giving." Are you a nutritionist? You're making people excited (rather than cringey) about adopting a healthy lifestyle. A writer? You're moving and inspiring people with your words. A teacher? You're inspiring new passions and ideas in other people. Think about what you give back by showing up to your desk every day, and feel proud over it.
7. Realize The Mentors Around You
We aren't lonely sail boats, bumping along the sea. It takes a team to lift you in your career and rally inspiration and motivation in you. Which is why you should realize the mentors you have around you in order to put purpose back into your work. These are the people that are passionate about their work, that make you curious to learn more, that make you excited to develop and become more professional, and that teach you how to be a champ in your field. All you have to do is find them.
Jeff Goins, bestselling author of The Art of Work, told Entrepenuer, "Every story of success is a story of community. Some people will help you willingly, while others may contribute to your education on accident. If you are wise, you can use it all." Whether these are people in your office or folks online, they're necessary to keep close.
So if you're feeling uninspired or unmotivated with your work, these are ways to pump some purpose back into your career. Just imagine the satisfied feeling you'll have waking up every Monday.
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