5 Steps Toward Meaningful Work

Can you engage in meaningful work right where you are? Here are 5 ways to begin.
Christi Hegstad May 11th, 2023

“I’m just a cog in the machine. A trained monkey could do my job.”

A client expressed this when we first started working together. His disconnect from his work had begun impacting his performance, attitude, relationships, and more.

By the end of our brief work together, he had replaced the above statement with, “My job actually saves lives!” He hadn’t changed jobs, hadn’t even changed most of his tasks and responsibilities.

So what had changed?

Finding Meaning In Work

A fair amount of research on meaningful work, mattering, and the like has been conducted in recent decades. It’s fascinating and important, and as leaders, we can do a great deal to create an environment of greater meaning and purpose in the workplace.

And as individual achievers, we have the power to bring meaning to our work, too. We can define what makes work meaningful to us, then take action to bring that to fruition. This article offers five ways to begin doing this.

Let’s take a look.

5 Ways To Bring Meaning To Work

1. Celebrate your wins.

Maybe you get acknowledged for the large, noticeable win – you land a big client or your proposal results in the grant funding, for example. (And maybe you don’t experience such acknowledgment, which is another article for another day.) Regardless, we need to celebrate our successes and wins along the way, not just when we reach the completion point. A few simple ways to begin this practice include keeping a Success Journal, recording a Daily Delight, and starting a Celebration of Triumphs list.

2. Connect your core values to your work.

One of my core values is growth, so when I can support my clients’ growth, or grow my own skill set in some way, my work naturally feels more meaningful. Discern your 3 to 5 core values, then look for ways to connect them to your work. (If you need help discerning your core values, contact me – I have a special one-time Core Values Coaching Session where we can do this.)

3. Dream big, and support others’ big dreams, too.

When you can connect your daily tasks to the bigger picture, you’ll benefit in all kinds of ways. Similarly, consider how your work supports others in achieving their dreams, too. Whether you are a banker or a chiropractor or a grocery store clerk or a museum docent or a (fill in the blank), you can play a role in supporting people on their path – and that feels fantastic!

4. Decide your ‘unofficial’ role.

One of my favorite tips for networking is to assume the role of ‘assistant host’; in other words, pretend you’ve been assigned to help people who look alone or uncomfortable feel more welcome. At work, you could decide you’re the one to bring the smile, to share an inspiring quote at the weekly staff meeting, or to ask thoughtful questions. Remember your values (#2 above) and personal strengths, then consider ways you could bring them into your every day.

5. Remember your ripple effect.

Whether or not you receive the feedback or see the impact your work makes, trust in the ripple effect – and that you are making a difference beyond what you even realize. Let’s say you take a phone call from an angry customer, talk them through the issue, and they leave the call feeling heard or cared for or at least a little less angry. Your actions could then change their interactions for the rest of the day, or how they handle their next call from a disgruntled customer. You just never know how far and wide your reach extends – but trust that it does.

You matter, and your work matters. I hope this article reminds you of that and helps enhance your experience, too!

Which of these tips will you begin implementing? What other ideas did this article spark for you? Share your thoughts below!

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