In this series on making work meaningful, I have explored many facets of how to create a greater sense of meaning in your work. I wrote a lot of words in the process, but in a way it all boils down to three simple words you can use as your guide:
Find the meaning.
Yep. That’s it. Any given workday is packed with opportunities to find the meaning. Sometimes it will be glaringly obvious, like the positive impact your work is having. Other times you’ll need to do a little excavating, finding the diamonds in the midst of the muck.
Meaning excavation questions
The mighty question mark is an excellent excavation tool. Below, you’ll find a number of questions you can ask on a regular basis to help you uncover those gems. You might pick a few and make that the foundation for a daily quick-scan. Or you might choose one a week and focus on noticing as much as you can every day.
For those who are feeling particularly cynical, it can be tempting to meet some questions, like “why does this matter,” with a roll of eyes and say, “it doesn’t.” For the sake of finding the meaning, I encourage you to notice any response like that, let it go, and focus on finding the positive.
And now, on to the excavation! You can ask any of these questions before your day starts to help set the stage for noticing, during the day, or at the end of the day as a way to look back and review.
What feels meaningful about this?
Why does this matter?
What difference does what I’m doing make?
What am I learning here? What could I learn here?
How is this work giving me an opportunity to grow?
How is this problem/difficulty giving me an opportunity to grow?
How can I approach my work with mastery and excellence in mind?
How can I come from a space of love today?
How can I bring my heart to work today?
Where are the opportunities to serve?
How can what I’m experiencing lead me towards my long-term vision?
What aspects of my work do I value?
Where do I feel connection in my work (with other people, with my work, with the outcome, with something greater than myself, etc.)?
How does my work align with who I am? Where are the opportunities to make it align more closely?
How can I have a positive impact on the people around me?
How can my work be an expression of my spirituality? How can it help me grow spiritually?
How can my interactions be an expression of my spirituality? How can they help me grow spiritually?
How can the way I engage problems be an expression of my spirituality? How can it help me grow spiritually?
What in my life is this work enabling? (e.g., supporting your family, giving you the money to contribute financially to causes you care about, etc.)
Explore why it matters
If you go back to the definition of meaningful work we’re using here – “Work that matters (and you decide what matters!)” – a follow-up question to the answers of each of these might be, “And why does that matter?”
The goal of that question is to help you build a deeper picture of what matters to you, and why.
The more you understand that, the more you can both recognize opportunities to incorporate more of it into your work and be aware of it when it’s there. The more you are aware of what matters, the more of what matters you consciously experience.
And the more of what matters you experience, the more meaningful work becomes.
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM
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