Finding Meaning in Work
I have been reflecting on what work means to me and how grateful I am to have a fulfilling work life. Even so, there are times when I forget how much of an answered prayer my job is and how lucky I am to serve people on a daily basis.
Work is such a big part of all of our lives, and it's easy to lose sight of the value of our work and why we do what we do. There’s so many things we can get caught up in, especially as young professionals, whether it’s the pressure to prove ourselves, meet the demands of the job, or navigate the workplace.
We focus so hard on getting to where we think we need to be that when we do reach our goals or significant milestones, we often forget what it took for us to get there. We’re all susceptible to losing our gratitude and perspective in the daily grind and mundane moments of work. But even in the toughest work setting, there is value in our work. Work helps us cultivate our skills, create, build, and contribute to products, ideas, and work cultures that have lasting impacts we don’t even realize. If we are ever so lucky, we may even enjoy the work we do and be given opportunities to stretch and grow.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work, to be given space to learn and make mistakes, to discover my strengths and weaknesses.
Whether you’re completely satisfied with your work life or dreading each day you head into the office, there are two things that can help you find meaning in your work no matter the circumstances:
Integrity: Work hard even when no one is looking. Pursue excellence in your work for the sake of excellent work, not just so that people can acknowledge your value and abilities. You may have difficult coworkers, a supervisor who belittles you, or unfulfilling work responsibilities, but if you do good work, somehow the right people will come to recognize and respect your work, whether it’s at your current job or where you end up next. It may take some time but if you value your own work product and have integrity in your work, your reputation will follow.
Gratitude: In addition to taking pride in your work, it’s important to have gratitude in your workplace, even for the simple fact that work allows you to sustain yourself and you have been entrusted with responsibilities. Recognize the skills you have and the time and energy it took to develop them and apply them to your work. If having gratitude at work does not come naturally to you, it may help to write a list of things that you are grateful for at work (to remind yourself that it is not all bad communal coffee and awkward small chat with coworkers ;)).
These are some examples of what your list can look like:
I am blessed to connect with people in times of need.
I am blessed to have meaningful relationships at work.
I am blessed to be challenged by the volume and complexity of my work.
I am blessed to be entrusted to make decisions that impact others in my work.
Having integrity and gratitude in our work lives helps us find meaning and value in our work. And it’s worth the work, because the world desperately needs what you have to offer.