How to make work more meaningful by finding more ways to make a difference

meaningful work - make a difference

 

Want a simple way to open up a bucketload o’ possibilities for making work more meaningful? Shift your perspective from “what difference does my work make,” to “what difference can I make while I’m at work?”

The second question includes the first, but expands your perspective to encompass much more of the real impact you have to potential to make.

You can start by looking back at my most recent post in this series on how to experience more meaning in you your work: Make your work meaningful: Find the difference you’re already making. Go through each of the suggestions for identifying the impact you’re already having and ask, “OK, what else? How could I make more of the difference I’m already making? And what other difference could I make? ”

Another way to think about it is looking at various areas and asking, “How can I help?” For example:

  • How can I help my co-workers?
  • How can I help the customer/client/end-user?
  • How can I help our partners?
  • How can I help the organization?
  • What greater-good effort can I initiate or support? (OK, that doesn’t start with “how can I help,” but you get the idea.)

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Over time, asking what difference you can make while you’re at work can become a habitual question. Until then, you’ll find some ideas below to help you start exploring.

Helping your co-workers

At an individual level, start asking the simple question, “Whose life can I make better with my work, and how?”

You could make it a goal to find ways to do that every day. You might even decide that from a meaning perspective the content of your job is secondary, and that your real role is to make people’s lives better in whatever way you can.

The ways you can make your co-workers lives better are endless. Some are directly the result of the work you do, others have nothing to do with your specific role.

Let’s start off with the role-specific exploration. How can the job you do (and how you do it) make life better for your co-workers?

Take a look at the individual people/roles that your work touches directly. This might be downstream (people who use or benefit from the work you do), upstream (people whose work is input for your work), or “sidestream,” (people not directly in your work flow who you still interact with in your job). Make a list.

Once you have the list, start asking questions. Broadly put, you can think of finding a difference to make as either adding a positive or eliminating a negative.

Here is a brief, far-from-exhaustive list of questions to get you started.

Adding positives

  • Can I make this person’s job easier?
  • Can I make this person’s job more efficient effective?
  • Can I help this person do their job more quickly?
  • Can how I do my work solve any problems this person has in their work?
  • How can how I interact with this person make their life better? (e.g., positive, supportive, communicative, etc.)

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Removing negatives

  • Does my work present any obstacles for them (e.g., a bottleneck, lack of communication, etc.)? What can I do to remove those?
  • Does how I interact with them create frustration or friction? What can I change about that?
  • What problems do they have? Can I help solve any of them?
  • How can I make this person’s work less frustrating?

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How you show up

Think of the most positive, uplifting person you have ever worked with. Now think of the most negative, pain-in-the-ass person you have worked with. What impact did each of those people had on your everyday experience of work?

There’s an enormous opportunity to make a difference in your work simply by how you show up. Are you positive? Are you supportive? Do you acknowledge people’s work? Are you free with your sincere compliments?

How you show up and the impact that has on the people around you is one of the biggest areas of potential impact because a) it’s happening the entire time you’re at work and, b) it’s one of the few things you have complete control over.

Helping people outside your organization

Beyond your co-workers, you can look outside the organization for how you make an impact. Two common constituencies here are customers/clients and business partners.

The exploration process is the same as for your co-workers. How can you make things better for them or remove something that’s not-so-hot?

Helping the organization

Keep your eyes open for opportunities to help the organization move towards its goals. These might be directly the result of your work, or it could be coming up with ideas the organization can implement to, for example:

  • Make money
  • Save money
  • Serve the customer better
  • Do things more efficiently
  • Foster a positive and productive culture

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Again, the list is practically endless. Some things you might implement yourself. Other things you might be a catalyst for.

Supporting greater-good efforts

Keep your eyes open for opportunities to either instigate or support projects and programs that make a difference beyond the organization. For example:

  • Get involved in your organizations volunteer program, if it has one.
  • If it doesn’t have one, be a catalyst for creating one.
  • Start a sustainability program.
  • Organize a food drive.
  • Get your co-workers to bring surplus food from their gardens and deliver it to homeless shelters, food banks, etc.

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Ultimately, you can create an opportunity to feel more meaning in your work by seeing your job less as a monolithic source of meaning (that comes from the end difference you make) and more as a playing field where you’ll find many different opportunities to have a positive impact.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

Make your work meaningful: Find the difference you’re already making

 

meaningful work - the difference you already make

Do you make a difference at work?

One of the key pieces of the meaning puzzle is the feeling that we’re making a difference. And while some people are fortunate enough to have the difference they make in their work as a clear and integral part of the job description (e.g., a teacher, or a firefighter, or a therapist), for others it’s not so obvious.

If you fall into the latter category, fear not, buckaroo! There are more ways we can make a difference than the obvious outcome. And as luck would have it, that’s what I’m going to explore in this post.

In a nutshell, this post in my series about making work meaningful is about identifying the difference you’re already making so you can focus more of your attention on it. What you pay attention to plays a big role in shaping your experience.

Start out by taking a look at different potential areas of positive impact. Two great places to start exploring are:

  • The outcome of your work
  • Your impact on the people around you.
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The outcome of your work

First things first, take a look at the outcome of the work you do. It can help to look at it from several different angles.

Direct impact

Let’s start with the simplest and most obvious. What direct difference does your work make? What is different as a result of your work?

Who your job helps (directly or indirectly)

Another way to look at the impact your job has is who it helps. Does it help an end user or customer directly? Does it help someone else in your organization do their job better, more effectively, or more easily? Is it a component that someone else builds on?

If you’re in a leadership role, part of the outcome of your work is how your reports experience and perform in their jobs. Does your leadership have a positive impact on the people who work for you?

Expanding the scope of how you look at making a difference, does your job help anyone indirectly (e.g., does it help someone help someone else)?

What your job enables

Yet another angle on the difference your job makes is exploring what it enables. We already saw some of this show up in the exploration of “who your job helps.”

Does your job create anything that is used toward a final outcome? Is it an important piece of a bigger puzzle? Does it support an effective flow? Does it create connections between people that enable better communication or more opportunities?

People

The impact you have on the people around you can be an enormous part of the difference you make in your work, whether or not it comes from your official job duties. Some areas to explore include:

Helping people

How do you help people? In addition to the job-specific ways discussed above, are there ways you play a helping role? Are you a mentor (formal or informal)? Are you good at helping people solve problems (whether work-related or not)? Do people know they have an open and compassionate ear with you? Do you have an intuitive understanding of how to navigate the company culture that lets you give people advice?

If you’re in a leadership role, how do you help the people who work for you? Do you empower and enable? How? What is the result of that?

Interaction

Some of the difference you make might simply be from the way you interact with people. Do you have a generally positive outlook in your interactions? Do you try to leave people feeling better than you found them (even if they were feeling good to begin with)? Do you show an interest in people? Do you make it a habit to share compliments and positive observations? Do you contribute to a positive environment to work in?

If you interact directly with the people your organization serves, does your interaction contribute to a positive experience for them?

Inspiration & motivation

Do you leave people feeling inspired or motivated? Do you help people see a bigger vision and believe in themselves?

Role model

Sometimes the difference you make in people’s lives doesn’t come from the advice you give or the problems you solve. It comes from the way you show up. Are you a role model? Maybe it’s a model for effectiveness and productivity. Or possibly you model positive problem-solving. Or it might be the fact that you show up with a determination to work through the challenges while seeing the good in people. People might see something to aspire to in the results you get and the goals you achieve.

How do you show up that might be a role model for others?

Community-building

Some people are natural community builders. Do you reach out and find ways to bring people together? Do you create opportunities for people to connect?

Putting it to use

That’s not a complete, exhaustive list of possible ways you might be making a difference at work, but it’s a good start. Once you have your initial list of ways you’re already making a difference, it’s time to put it to use.

Notice: Part of the value of making a list of ways you’re making a difference is that it makes it easier to notice them. Each day, pay attention to the things in your list are showing up. Use it as a way to start directing your attention to the positive impact you have.

The more of your attention that occupies, the more it colors your experience. Not only that, when you make a concerted effort to notice the difference you’re making on a regular basis, you start to notice more. It’s a virtuous cycle.

Savor: It’s not enough to just notice the difference you’re making. Take the time to let it land. Stop and savor it. Let it soak in. The brain is wired to absorb the negative much more readily than the positive, so it takes extra effort to get the full benefits of positive experiences.

Once you take stock of the difference you’re already making, the next step is to explore more possibilities to make a difference (which, by some miraculous coincidence, is the topic of my next post!).

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

20 questions to help you make work meaningful

meaningful work

Much as I would like to offer it, there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for finding meaning in your work. Meaning is a custom job. What feels deeply meaningful to you might feel just so-so to your neighbor.

The goal of this series of posts on making work meaningful is to help you consciously, purposefully find a greater sense of meaning in your work. I want to help you take an intentional approach to building meaning into your career, rather than just guessing or lucking into it.

Since what feels meaningful is such a unique and individual thing, it stands to reason that the first and possibly most important thing is understanding where meaning comes from for you.

Rather than leaving you staring at a blank canvas in a mild state of panic (“How the hell do I know??? They never taught me that in school!!”), I’m kicking off the series with some questions to prime the pump on your personal exploration of meaning.

There is a bucketload of questions here. Don’t overwhelm yourself by feeling like you need to answer all of them (and possibly not answer any of them). Just scan through and see which ones catch your eye and start from there.

  1. What does meaning mean to me? (You can start out with this post offering a definition of meaning and build your own from there.)
  2. What feels meaningful to me? Why? (Just make a laundry list to start with – you can sort through it later to find the key themes.)
  3. If I could wave my magic wand and create a path chock full o’ meaning, what would I be doing? Why?
  4. What do I care about in my work? Why?
  5. What do I care about in my life? Why?
  6. If I could make one difference in my job, what would it be? Why?
  7. If I could make one difference in my life, what would it be? Why?
  8. Are there specific areas of focus that feel most meaningful to me? (e.g., social justice, environmental issues, helping people thrive.) Why do they feel so meaningful?
  9. Whom or what does it feel compelling to help? Why?
  10. What is more important to me than anything else in my career? If I could only pick one thing as my central focus, what would it be? Why?
  11. What is more important to me than anything else in my life? If I could only pick one thing as my central focus, what would it be? Why?
  12. If I didn’t get paid in money, but in the feeling I get from the impact my work makes, what would I do? What impact/difference would feel most compelling? Why?
  13. What, if any, meaning do I get from relationships and connection with others? What kinds of relationships and connections feel meaningful? Why?
  14. What kinds of interactions with others feel meaningful? Why?
  15. What is my current why? (Why do I do what I do? Why does it matter?)
  16. What is my ideal why? (If I had my ideal job, why would I do what I do? Why would it matter?)
  17. What do I value? Why?
  18. When do I feel most alive? Why?
  19. What lights me up? Why? (Check out this post to help you find your energizers.)
  20. When am I most motivated? Why?

You’ll notice that each of those is followed by, “Why?” Asking why is one of the best ways to unpack what’s there and get a deeper insight into what your initial answers mean.

Don’t expect to be able to come up with a crisp, clean picture of what meaning means to you. Think of it as sculpting your awareness out of clay. The first thing you need to do is get a lump of clay to start shaping. That’s what you’re doing with the initial exploration.

From there, you can continue exploring and refining. You can also use your everyday life as a learning laboratory, continually asking, “What feels meaningful here? Where does meaning feel like it’s missing? Why?”

Bit by bit, you’ll create a more deeper understanding of your own personal version of meaning. And the more clarity you have, the more potential you have to recognize both how it already exists and opportunities to bring more into your life.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

 

How to make your work more meaningful (even when it isn’t)

dancing figures

Does your work feel meaningful? Would you like it to feel more meaningful?

The goal of this blog is to help people create energized, impactful, heart-based careers. One big piece of that puzzle is making work meaningful. But how?

Recently I wrote a series of posts looking at how to feel more juice in your job. Today, I’m starting a series looking at how to weave a greater sense of meaning into both your job and your entire career (and with a little luck, into your life overall as well).

This is the main page for the series. Over the next couple weeks I will be writing more extensively about the ideas below and adding links in the relevant sections.

What is meaning?

In my last post, I offered this simple definition of meaningful work:

Meaningful work = Work that matters

What makes that work matter could be personal (energizing, growth-inducing, inspiring), interpersonal (relationships and community), or focused on a benefit beyond yourself.

In the posts in this series (which I will add links to as I write them), I will explore different ways to bring more of what matters into your work to create a greater feeling of meaning.

So let’s dive in!

Know thyself: Practice the art of self-awareness

Yeah, I know, I’m a bit of a broken record on this one. This is where I always start. And there’s a good reason for that. The more you know about what makes you tick, what you respond to, what feels meaningful, what feels compelling, the better equipped you are to both recognize and actively seek out opportunities to incorporate more of that into the picture.

Awareness empowers. Without that self-awareness, the only way to develop more meaning in your work is to luck into it.

[Get started with 20 questions to help you make your work more meaningful.]

Know thy world: Practice the art of external awareness

Here again, awareness empowers. The more aware you are of the possibilities that surround you for experiencing more meaning, the more potential you have to integrate it into your work life.

Make it a habit of doing a 360-degree scan in your work to look for opportunities to make more meaning. You can use the areas below to guide your scan.

Find the difference you’re making

When people talk about wanting to experience more meaning in their work, they’re often talking about wanting to make more of a difference.

Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably already making some kind of difference. In this step, you identify all the ways you can think of where your work has some kind of impact, whether direct or facilitated (where your work allows someone else to make a difference).

[Get started with find the difference you’re already making.]

Find a difference to make

Once you take stock of the difference you’re already making, you can start looking for opportunities to make more of a difference. This might be part of your job, tasks and projects you take on that aren’t directly related to your job (like spearheading an office recycling program), or it might be simply through how you show up at work.

[Get started with finding more ways to make a difference.]

[Energize your work by making a personally meaningful difference.]

Cultivate relationships & community

Don’t underestimate the power of relationships and community to create a sense of meaning. Humans evolved as social critters. The connection we feel with the people around us can feel deeply meaningful.

As I mentioned earlier, my focus is on helping people create energized, impactful, heart-based careers (and lives). It’s in our interactions with other people that some of the biggest opportunities to bring our hearts to work appear.

[See how relationships can make work more meaningful.]

[Try these 11 ways to bring your heart to work.]

Look for learning & growth

Another potential source of meaning is the opportunity for learning and growth your job present. Whether that is about adding more tools to your toolkit in pursuit of a longer-term goal, stretching and challenging yourself, or reaching for mastery, learning and growth can add a fulfilling dimension to your work.

[Check out how learning can make work more meaningful.]

[Discover how to make work more meaningful with a learning plan.]

Put it in the context of a big picture vision

As I’ve described before, I like seeing things in the context of a 10-year vision. Regardless of the specifics of your current job, what is your vision for the next ten years?

Having a bigger picture context takes you out of the micro-view of the present moment and gives it a bigger perspective. Even if your current job is a complete and utter grind with few redeeming qualities, it can be meaningful as a step toward that bigger picture vision (through the knowledge and skills you’re developing, the money that is allowing you to meet your needs while you work on the side toward the vision, etc.).

[Learn how a 10-year vision makes work more meaningful.]

Shape your perspective

Part of making more meaning in your work is simply choosing to focus on more of what feels meaningful. This is about selective focus, choosing to strengthen the attention you pay to what feels positive, rewarding, and enriching and loosen your attachment to focusing on what you don’t like.

[Find out how an intentional focus makes work more meaningful.]

Make work your spiritual practice

If there is a spiritual aspect to how you experience the world, this represents an enormous reservoir of potential meaning. Imagine using your work as your spiritual practice. How many opportunities do you have any given day to practice aligning yourself more closely to your path?

One of the richest and most interesting conversations I sometimes have with clients is some variation on the theme, “How do I live my faith (or my spirituality, or my values)?” It’s in the day-to-day action of the real world that those things lose their abstractness and gain substance and solidity.

Here again, the opportunities to think in terms of bringing your heart to work are endless.

[Explore how to make your work your spiritual practice.]

[Learn 10 ways you can make work a spiritual practice.]

Authentic expression

Feeling in the groove of who you really are can add a significant sense of meaning to your work. The first step towards this is the first item in this list – developing self-awareness.

At its best, work can be a vehicle for showing up in the way that lets you thrive, tapping into what energizes and inspires you and allowing you to use your inherent gifts and abilities.

Even when your work feels out of synch with an authentic expression of who you are, it can have value as a learning laboratory to help you better understand where your sweet spot actually is.

[You can start by identifying your energizers.]

[Explore more on how to align what you do with who you are.]

Find the meaning – all day, every day

I don’t know that I believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe that whatever happens, we can find value if we’re willing to look.

Whether what you are experiencing is positive, negative, or neutral, there is potential to find meaning in the events and activities of your day, all day and every day.

Maybe the meaning is what you learned. Maybe it’s an opportunity to practice cultivating a virtue you desire (e.g., patience). Maybe it is the opportunity to interact from the heart in what doesn’t feel like a heartful situation.

Whatever it is, planting the question, “Where is the meaning here?” and asking it continually will open the door to meaning ever wider.

[Ask 19 questions to find more meaning in your work.]

Recognize work as a facilitator

Finally, you can find meaning in what your work facilitates – even the mundane things. Does it allow you to feed your family? Does it meet a need for social connection? Does it create the financial space for you to be able to move toward your longer-term vision?

As you look at all these options, I encourage you to jettison any black-and-white thinking about having meaning vs. not having meaning. Look at it as more of a continuum. The more opportunities for meaning you explore and cultivate, the further on the spectrum you shift towards meaningful work.

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

What makes work meaningful?

meaningful work

What gives your work a sense of meaning?

I’m about to start a series of posts aimed at finding meaning in your work (update – here’s the main post). Before I do, I want to explore this idea of meaning, which can be a tad slippery and ambiguous. Ask any ten people what meaning means, and you’ll probably get ten different answers. There is no pat, standard definition.

One way to think about finding meaning is answering the question, “Why does this matter?” Why does this matter to you? Why does this matter to others? Why does this matter to your company? Why does this matter to society? Why does this matter to nature?

As you explore the answer to that question, don’t fall into the trap of believing that meaning only comes from being Captain Save-the-Planet. Making a difference can certainly be a source of meaning, but it’s not the only one.

What matters might be the joy you get from the work you do. It might be the sense of connection you get with others. It might be the learning and growth that comes from it.

If you want a short, handy-dandy definition, it’s this:

Meaningful work = Work that matters

And what, you may well be wondering, makes work matter? I’m glad you asked.

What makes work matter?

What makes that work matter can fall into several broad categories, including:

Personal

This could be doing work that energizes you and makes you feel alive. It could be work that challenges you and helps you constantly learn and grow. It could be working in a specific area that matters deeply to you (e.g., health care, or working with at-risk youth). It could be making work an expression of your spirituality or values, whether through what you do or how you do it.

Interpersonal

Simply put, this is about relationships and connection. It might be directly related to the work you do, or it might be the friendship and community you experience overall in your work.

Benefit beyond you

This is what people typically think about when think about meaningful work. It’s about making a difference. Creating a benefit for something beyond you and your immediate little world.

This isn’t just about being a stereotypical do-gooder (though it might be, if that’s your authentic path). It might just as well be about benefiting the people you work with, or your employer, or the market you serve.

Make your personal definition of meaning

So there you have it. A simple way to think about what makes work meaningful. It’s not THE definition of meaningful work (there are a million ways to slice that one), but it’s a functional one that offers a framework for consciously making meaning a part of your career.

But don’t take my word for it. Try it on for size. See if it resonates. If something is missing, add it. If something is there that doesn’t work for you, give it the heave ho.

Ultimately, what feels meaningful for you isn’t mine to define. It’s a unique and individual thing. Treat this post as a starting point as you set out to discover both your personal definition of meaning and how to incorporate that into your career.

In the coming posts I’ll be doing a deep dive into a variety of ways to bring more of a sense of meaning into your work. Stay tuned!

Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

How a make-a-difference mindset energizes your work

make a difference

One of the fundamental characteristics of being human is a desire to make a difference. We want to feel that what we do matters. You can use that to your advantage in your efforts to add juice to your job.

Far too many people get caught on the hamster wheel at work, spinning around and feeling like little more than a faceless cog in the works. Hardly an inspiring source of energy.

One way to change that is to change your context. Step back and ask questions like:

  • Who is this benefitting?
  • How does this help?
  • What is better because of what I’m doing?
  • What does this enable?
  • Whose life is easier because of what I do?
  • Whose work is more productive because of this?
  • What is the end result that this contributes to?”
  • What opportunities does this create?.

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When you’re dissatisfied with your work, your focus can collapse down to me, me, me. “This is boring me. I don’t like this. I’m unhappy here.”

Focusing on the difference you make takes your focus out of that negative spin cycle that keeps leading back to your dissatisfaction and places it somewhere else. The goal is to shift your context out of your own small story into a bigger story about how what you do makes a difference.

Questions like the ones above are a great way to expand the scope of your awareness of where your impact reaches. You might even make it a point to ask them on a regular basis (maybe weekly, or even daily) to make a habit of aiming your focus in a positive direction.

If you want to go wild and take it a step further, you could reach to the people who benefit from your work (if you are able to) and ask them how it helps them. Ask them why it matters.

Even in my work, which is based around helping people, it can make a world of difference in how I feel about what I’m doing when somebody gives me feedback on the impact the work we did together had on their life. That positive feedback can be a great energizer.

The more aware you are of the impact you have, the stronger your make-a-difference mindset.

[If you want to go deeper into this idea, download my free audio course that guides you through the process, or check out my e-book The Occupational Adventure Guide.]

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Want to energize your career? Make a personally meaningful difference

make a personally meaningful difference

Woven through all the work I do is a simple question: “How do I bring more of what energizes me into my career, and my life?”

In my work with clients, that frequently boils down to two lines of inquiry:

  • What are my sources of energy?
  • How can I create opportunities to experience more of those energy sources, more often?

Over the last thirteen years of my Passion Catalyst work, I have spent a lot of time thinking about where that energy comes from.

One source of energy that is frequently overlooked is making a difference. Not just any ol’ making a difference, but what I call a “personally meaningful difference.”

A different look at making a difference

To tap into this one requires a little different way of thinking about what making a difference means.

Here’s the thing. All work is inherently about making a difference. Something is different when you’re done than when you started. A product was created, a customer was helped, the peace was kept, a burger was served. Whatever.

So if you’re going to be making a difference anyway, doesn’t it make sense to figure what kind of difference has the most juice for you? Put another way, what kinds of outcomes have the most charge for you? What do you find most compelling?

Because I’m willing to bet that all kinds of differences are not created equal. Some will leave you feeling engaged, while others will leave you ambivalent.

When the difference you make energizes you and feels compelling, it’s what I call a “personally meaningful difference.” 

My own personally meaningful difference

To make this a little more specific, I’ll use myself as an example. For me, one outcome that has a huge charge is seeing the light bulb going on as someone gets clarity. On the other hand, if I work all day to create some sense of order in my office space, I might find it satisfying enough, but there’s not much energy to it.

If I explored why the first has such a charge, I would say that it’s really about two things. First, it’s specifically about helping people. Making a positive impact on the environment, or helping a company improve its bottom line are outcomes I know intellectually are important, but they don’t have the deep resonance for me that helping people does.

Second, it’s about creating clarity, and the doors that insight opens and the possibilities it creates.

No, it’s not about joining the Peace Corps

Note that in this context making a difference isn’t necessarily the do-gooder activity we typically think of. It could be, but it might also be the executive assistant who feels completely energized knowing that the order he or she creates is making it possible for someone to do more and achieve more.

So it’s not inherently about changing the world in the stereotypical way.

And it’s not about what anybody else thinks is important. Identifying an outcome as energizing isn’t a value judgment of whether or not it is important in the scope of the world.

It’s about noticing how you are wired as an individual.

What anybody else thinks is important has zero, zip, nada relevance.

Find your personal meaning characteristics

Ultimately it boils down to this. What are the characteristics of the kinds of outcomes you find particularly compelling?

If you could wave your magic wand and work toward any outcome you wanted, what would that look like? Would it be about helping people? Would it be about the environment? Would it be something that had a clear, immediate impact? Would it be something that has a bigger picture strategic impact? Would it be up close and personal, or would it be making a difference at a large scale? What else?

You might start by just paying attention to your current work. What do you find compelling about the outcome of what you are doing now? Why do you find it compelling?

You can also look at the outcomes other people are working towards (not the actual work they are doing, but the outcomes). Make a list of outcomes that make your heart say, “Yes! That’s important!” Then dig into why each of the scenarios on your list has such a charge.

The more you understand about what a personally meaningful difference looks like for you, the more consciously you can look for opportunities to tap into that energy.

Otherwise, your best hope is just to luck into it. Not the best career planning strategy.

 

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

7 reasons you should bring your spirituality to work

candles

When I talk about getting Wild About Work, what I’m really talking about is creating an energized, impactful, heart-based career.

One thing you can do that touches all three of those is bring your spirituality to work.

Before I go any farther with this idea, let me be clear about two things.

First, I don’t mean going to work and proselytizing. In fact, in all likelihood nobody will even know that you’re bringing your spirituality to work. This is all an inside job.

Bringing your spirituality to work means using your spiritual perspective as a lens through which you look at everything. It means using it as a guidance system, “If I were in perfect alignment with how I see the world spiritually, what would I do here? How would I behave? What decision would I make?” It means using the events of your workday as a spiritual practice.

Second, I have no idea what spirituality means to you. It might be intimately tied to religion. It could be “spiritual but not religious.” It could even be completely secular, for example, blending your values and a focus on the interconnectedness of life.

When I say bring your spirituality to work, the meaning is inherently broad. Before you read the ideas below, ask yourself, “What does spirituality mean to me? How do I define it? What role does it play in my life?” Then interpret everything accordingly.

The idea of how to bring your spirituality to work merits a post of its own (which I’ll write sometime soon). But for now, to take it out of the abstract, I’ll give a couple examples.

Bringing your spirituality to work might entail cultivating a service mindset, looking for both opportunities to serve and ways you already are. It might involve practicing mindfulness. It might include saying a silent prayer at various times throughout your day. It might be continuously asking the question, “How do I lead with love and compassion” or, “How can I come from love and compassion in this interaction?” Or any one of a bazillion other ways it could show up.

And now, without further ado, here are seven benefits of bringing your spirituality to work.

#1 – It has a grounding effect

One of the big ways we get ourselves out of the Wild About Work zone is jumping on the hamster wheel and running full tilt. We get spun up in our stories and create unnecessary stress for ourselves. Coming back to a spiritual perspective can have a grounding effect, creating more space for the juice to flow.

#2 – You feel more alignment

One of the ways I think of being Wild About Work is like being a pipe, a channel through which the energy of work that lights you up can flow. When we’re out of alignment with what’s fundamentally important to us, the inside of the pipe gets gunked up and the flow of that energy gets blocked.

Bringing your spirituality to work helps you de-gunkify your internal pipeline so you can experience as much of the rich fullness of your work as possible.

#3 – It puts things in perspective

Related to the grounding effect, bringing your spirituality to work puts things in a less constricted context. One of the ways we jump on that hamster wheel is obsessing on me, Me, ME! A spiritual perspective can help you get out of your me story and see things in the context of a greater whole.

#4 – It helps you make better decisions

Jumping out of the spin-cycle that me Me ME creates gives you a broader, more objective perspective. That in turn can help you make better decisions, because you’re in less of a reactive space and more holistic in your outlook.

#5 – You actually get to live it

One of the most fascinating questions I sometimes explore with clients is, “How do you live your faith? (or, your spirituality, or your values)?” There’s a big difference between “what do I believe?” and “how do I live that?”

Most of us spend a big chunk of our waking ours at work. Bringing your spirituality along with you means you actually get to live it, rather than relegating it to the odd pocket of time here are there. Rather than an add-on, your spirituality becomes a framework within which everything else unfolds.

#6 – It provides a vehicle for growth

Let’s face it, no matter how capable you are, things are going to go sideways. You’re going to fail. You’re going to experience conflict. You’re going to show up in ways that aren’t in alignment with the person you want to be.

Bringing your spirituality to work gives you a vehicle to use any experience for growth. One simple question, “How does this help me grow on my path?” can change the meaning you assign any situation.

#7 – It gives you a sense of meaning

Last, but not remotely least, bringing your spirituality to work weaves a sense of meaning into the fabric of your day. It gives you a way to experience your day to day work in the context of something greater than yourself. It uses your day-to-day work as a means of connection with something greater than yourself (however you perceive that). It creates a way for you to feel like an instrument of something greater, rather than just a random cog.

Bringing your spirituality to work can help you take a more grounded and expansive view. It creates more space to fully experience what energizes you. And it carries with it an inherent sense of meaning.

If your goal is to create an energized, impactful, heart-based career, that sounds like a pretty valuable addition to the mix!

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

One simple way to make a difference at work (or anywhere else)

bullseye

A big piece of the Wild About Work puzzle is Energized Work, feeling energized by what you do for a living. As I talked about a few days ago on a post about energy management, feeling energized at work comes from both maximizing the energy gains and minimizing the energy drains.

One powerful source of energy in your work is feeling a sense of meaning.

There are numerous things that contribute to a sense of meaning. One of the most common is feeling like you’re making a difference.

Usually when people talk about making a difference at work, they’re referring to the outcome of the job itself – something like a teacher, or an environmental activist, or a doctor. But that’s not the only way to make an impact.

There are a bazillion ways to make a difference at work. This article on Psychology Today takes a look at one of them: strengths-spotting.

Strengths-spotting, as you may already have surmised, is simply noticing people’s strengths, and letting them know what you see.

Think about it. Imagine a co-worker came up to you out of the blue and said, “You know, I just want to let you know that I have been noticing how good you are at ________. That’s a real gift. I can see why you’re good at what you do.” And let’s say it’s an authentic, accurate reflection.

How would you feel? Think it might give your mood a bit of a positive bump? Think you might come away feeling a little more self-confident?

The article offers some ideas for getting better at strengths-spotting.

    • Practice observing people. At your next social event, emphasize listening and looking over speaking.
    • Put on “strengths goggles” by listening/looking for strengths in the people around you. It might be helpful to have this list of character strengths in front of you.
    • Label the positive in a precise way (e.g., “I see bravery in you”)
    • Offer an example or rationale for the strength you see (e.g., “I see fairness in you because you always seem to stick up for other people”).
    • Make your feedback to people genuine and honest.
    • Keep your feedback relevant to the situation you are in.

Try this: For the next week, just start paying attention to your co-workers and see what strengths you see. Practice developing a strengths-spotting mindset. If you feel so inclined, pick a co-worker to share your observations with. How does that seem to make them feel? Just as important how does it make you feel?

We each have an amazing amount of potential to make a difference, just by the way we show up day in and day out. Strengths-spotting is a simple, yet potentially profound, way to do that.

[Want to get Wild About Work? Take the first step with my FREE audio course.]

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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM

Time for a career change? Start with
The Occupational Adventure Guide

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