Day in, day out. 9 to 5, 24/7. The daily grind has a way of wearing you down and making you feel listless. On bad days, it might even have you questioning the meaning of your life (or at least, the meaning of the work you do.)
Pop culture is abound with nuggets of conventional wisdom like following your passion and injecting purpose into everything you do. But when you’re on a crowded peak-hour train headed to a job you’ve been at for the past four years without making much headway, it can be very difficult to see that in practice in your real life.
Here’s how to change all that and start deriving meaning from the work you do.
Job crafting provides an opportune way for you to build purpose and meaning into your work over time instead of waiting for it to find you.
According to Yale’s Amy Wrzesniewski, job crafting refers to the process of employees redesigning their jobs in personally meaningful ways. In other words, it’s about tailoring different aspects of your job to suit your core values and desires at work. Interestingly, while the term itself is relatively new, Wrezsniewski says that people often engage in some form of job crafting whether they call it that or not.
In this case, you need to figure out what your core values in the first place. If you love gardening, for instance, think about why. Is it the process of nurturing that gets you? Or is it the part where you get to reap what you sow and watch your flowerbeds blossom beautifully? It might even be the process of researching and experimenting to find out what works best for which types of plants. Once you’ve figured out exactly what it is, you can channel this core value into your work.
Love to nurture things? Find ways to help nurture and provide mentorship to new hires. Like tinkering around and experimenting? Get involved with innovation processes at work, or start experimenting on yourself with things like personal productivity and motivation techniques.
The point is to do the things you find personally meaningful, without neglecting your existing duties and responsibilities.
According to MOM, the average Singaporean spends almost 9 hours at work daily. That’s 40% of your day spend in the office. Having transient or superficial work relationships can make it harder and harder to come to work.
Sharing a strong sense of team spirit, bonding, and togetherness in and of itself can provide a strong sense of meaning for you. Even if your superiors always get on your nerves or the work itself calls for high endurance, knowing that you can fall back on the support of your co-workers can make a huge difference.
Spending a few minutes at the start of every day to calibrate yourself and get into the right mindset can do wonders. If work really is that monotonous, it’s even more crucial that you do this. As mentioned before, each person derives meaning from different sources.
Without constantly revisiting these sources, you run the risk of becoming jaded and burnt out at work. Job burnout, in particular, isn’t just about being overworked. At times, it also comes down to feeling disconnected from meaningfulness at work, especially if you can’t see how your work in particularly contributes to the larger picture.
In fact, even if it’s not something you do in the mornings, it can provide you a great sense of meaningfulness and motivation at any time of day. If providing for your family is the reason why you work so hard, put reminders of that on your workspace where it’s highly visible. For example, pinning up a drawing your daughter did for you can give you that boost of meaningfulness you need to get through a particularly drab workday.