Work is one of the essential experiences of human life. Since most of us spend plenty of our lives working, it is inevitable that work plays a key role in shaping our levels of happiness. The average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime. This is about 10.27 calendar years of somebody’s life! No wonder when we meet someone new, the first question they want to ask is What do you do?
“Our work can be a big part of our identity and offer insights into what is important to us.”
Dik, Byrne, and Steger, In their book Purpose and Meaning in the Workplace, examine the relationship between productivity and happiness. They suggest there is a strong connection between meaningful work and job satisfaction.
Job Satisfaction is the level of contentment, attitudes, and positive feelings employees feel about their job. There are many factors impacting job satisfaction, such as the nature of work itself, the level of job-fit with own interests, values, and personality; and lastly, the many ways in which employees derive meaning and purpose from their work.
Research on the field of organizational behavior suggests that it is questionable that we could find happiness at work since happiness is such a subjective and changing emotion. Instead, psychologists are studying what makes a job meaningful.
“For many reasons, more Americans are changing jobs several times throughout their careers.”
All too often, people find themselves trapped in jobs they don’t want. According to a survey of baby boomers by the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average American changes jobs 12 times. this is almost every five years! People leave jobs for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from lack of promotional opportunities to high stress to incompetent bosses, and the like. In our times of pandemic, as jobs disappear, employees hang on to what they have. Unhappy employees tend to feel disengaged, instead of bringing their best self to work.
“It is important to figure out how to feel better about the time you spend earning a living.”
Finding meaning at work is becoming an active field of research because meaningful work has been identified with higher levels of employee engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction. The feeling that work has some purpose, has a positive impact on life as a whole.
“Meaningfulness is about why not just about what.”
If you are feeling disconnected from your current job, you might benefit from finding significance in what you do. Here are a few suggestions for you to consider:
- Search for your higher calling by finding a personal connection with what you do. People who feel called to their careers are likely to perceive their work as deeply meaningful. in my work as a career coach, I feel a deep connection with the desire to help others overcome job and life transitions.
- Use your strengths and unique talents to shine and make an impact. You will feel more content and satisfied when you can do what you are best at, increasing your level of contribution, worthiness, and personal confidence.
- Craft your job by changing different elements of your job to make it more engaging and meaningful. In my career in HR, I found ways to spend more time interacting with leaders, teams, and coworkers vs. spending solo time on my computer.
- Decide to focus more energy and attention on those areas of your job that you enjoy the most. By doing so, you will be focusing on what makes you feel good instead of spending too much time on what you do not like, reducing your level of negativity.
- Find significance in creating social connections with your coworkers, even If these are brief interactions throughout your day. Since most of us are working from home these days, find ways to reach out to your coworkers for a brief phone call or video call.
- Reframe the way you think about those aspects of your job that you dislike by looking at the big picture. You will find that everything has a purpose. Besides, there is not such a perfect job that is 100% satisfying.
“Find Meaning in Your Job Instead of Pursuing Happiness.”
When you consider all factors, there is plenty of value in making the most of what you have. After all, you may not have the power to change your organizations, but you can change your relationship with your job and look at the big picture of what you have. Instead of pursuing happiness, pursue meaning. You might end feeling happier than before.