7 Work Habits To Create More Meaning at Work
Are you like so many Americans who struggle to create more meaning at work or who have lost sense of why their job seemed like meaningful work in the first place?
For the average American worker, job satisfaction is very uncommon. In fact, a 2019 Conference Board survey, found that a whopping 50 percent of employees aren’t satisfied with their jobs.
Unfortunately, most workers believe they’ll face difficulties finding meaningful work or fulfillment in a subsequent position (360Learning). And, only 50 percent believe they have the necessary skills to attain fulfilling work.
These are dismal statistics, indeed!
If this sounds like your current situation, you might want to consider ways to improve your current job and work environment rather than bank on scant and unpromising alternatives. So, instead of being stuck and frustrated, take action.
To do so, consider these 7 work habits to help you find fulfillment at work. If you choose to adopt these, you’re bound to create more meaning in the job you currently have.
Develop Work Habits That Increase Your Work-Life Fulfillment
The time you spend at work represents the greater part of your day. This is because your job and commute probably add up to 10 hours per workday (US Bureau of Labor Statistics and US Census Bureau). Then, sleep uses about seven and eight hours per day. This leaves you with only 6 hours for errands and personal obligations as well as just a tiny bit of personal time.
Therefore, if you’re looking for greater fulfillment, you’ll have to find it at work. At least partly during your work time. Changing your work habits could be the answer. Try out any one or more and see for yourself.
1. Do More of What You Want To Create More Meaningful Work.
Adoption of this work habit is easier if you have some flexibility and control over the type of contribution you make to the larger work effort. Still, most job descriptions have some room for employee initiative and creativity, especially if it makes a positive contribution to the overall work effort. Employers seek that type of motivation and engagement.
An illustration will help clarify what this work habit entails. Let’s assume you work on a business development team drafting proposals for new funding and programs. You personally have a strong commitment to women’s empowerment, but you rarely design programs specifically for women even though your company has a reasonable gender focus.
To increase your fulfillment, set a realistic goal for yourself. Identify where you could apply your expertise to the company’s prospective portfolio on women’s empowerment. Alternatively, where could you recommend, justify, and craft an additional women’s empowerment component into a planned proposal?
While you may feel the urge to immediately push back and declare you have little or no control over your work plan, resist. Instead, challenge your current point of view. Are there no small desirable changes you can suggest?
2. Do More Of What Motivates You And Keep Your Enthusiasm Up
If you know what motivates you, find ways to bring that into your regular work. For example, if you like challenges, seek or create interesting challenges for yourself.
Alternatively, if you like teamwork or collaboration with others, socialize more and look for opportunities to work with interesting people doing interesting things.
Whatever motivates you, find ways of bringing more of that into your workday. Make it a work habit.
3. Create Personal Subgoals At Work
To implement this work habit, all you need to do is identify within your current scope of work a discrete goal that would increase the valuation of your work and hence increase your fulfillment. Then do it.
Let’s stick with the current example to clarify this work habit as well.
What you want to do first is craft a few goals related to your desire to contribute more to women’s empowerment. Draft them in a way such that they will contribute to broader workplace goals. Thus management will be more receptive.
Then, create metrics for yourself such as three successful program submissions within the next one or two years. In this way, you shift the focus of your work without proposing to significantly alter your job description or change positions. In doing so, the work plant modification requires less work for management and the human resources department.
4. Create Your Own Job Mission Statement.
As an individual with specific skills and interests, your workplace’s mission statement could seem vague, far-reaching, and beyond your personal scope of interest. In fact, it could even only marginally align with your own life mission and personal values.
Still, the job may very likely satisfy a subset of your needs and preferences (e.g., income, location, building professional credibility). Nevertheless, the lack of satisfaction is killing you. Otherwise, you would not be seeking guidance.
When the workplace mission, doesn’t align with you, create your own job mission statement. Include why you’re in your particular position, how it satisfies your overall goals and intentions, and how it positions you for your future plans.
Identify and highlight a few goals aligned with this mission. Then, create steps to achieve them. Base your mission statement on what matters most to you now and in the future. And, make sure to incorporate both work and personal values and objectives.
Then, habitually take steps to move forward with your mission. Even very small steps. This will help you create more meaningful work as you stay present and focused on your needs and interests. And, remember whatever you do now will connect to your longer-term vision so you’re always moving forward.
Important to effective implementation of this work habit you must be familiar with your values and what is meaningful to you. If you don’t have that clarity yet, do your personal reflection and self-discovery work first. Without it, you’re apt to waver, flounder, and become demoralized with the process.
5. Bring More Of Your Own Values To Work.
Too many people consider their personal life separate and work-life separate. In a sense, they leave their personal self at the office door. Given the many hours dedicated to work, this viewpoint can feel stifling.
Workers focus on responsibilities, obligations, tasks, projects, and managing their professional relationships all within a given work culture. For some, the culture corresponds well to their tendencies and aspirations and they feel fulfilled. However, others feel they have to find fulfillment outside work, which can be a burden and demoralizing.
If this sounds like your current situation, instead of segregating yourself from your professional self, express more of your important personal values at work. For example, if you value sharing your experience and being of service to younger, newer staff members, offer to mentor someone. Alternatively, share your skills and knowledge through informal presentations and discussions.
6. Define And Uphold Work Boundaries
Set unbreakable start and quiet times so you can get more out of your life outside work. For example, protect your lunch hour, using that time for what you want to do. Sure, you’ll undoubtedly be asked to break these boundaries. That’s OK sometimes. Just don’t make it a regular work habit.
7. Take Quality Personal Time While At Work
During the day, take a break from work and go running or work out.
Create a lunch-time book club if you prefer reading and socializing to exercise.
If you take back the break time that was actually yours anyway, you’ll find you have time to do some things you really love. You’ll find more fulfillment at work even if it’s not in the work itself.
Patricia Bonnard, PhD, ACC is an integrated life coach, embodied practitioner, and energy healer. She offers virtual and in-person sessions and numerous short workshops on personal growth, natural healing, and wellness. For more about Patricia, visit her website Starchaser Healing Arts.