When your work feels like Groundhog Day again

“What would you do if you were stuck in one place AND everyday was exactly the same AND nothing you did mattered?” -Phil Connors, Groundhog Day

Ever had that feeling? I mean really, who hasn’t?

A study on wellbeing conducted by the CDC in 2010 confirmed that it’s happening to a lot of us. Twenty-five percent of Americans, about 100 million people, do not have a strong sense of what makes their lives meaningful, keeping us stuck in Groundhog Day over and over again.

Meaning is at the heart of this matter.

WHAT’S MEANING?

 

Meaning is the degree to which your life has purpose, value, and impact. It’s both the thought and feeling that what you are doing is making a difference.

When things never change or tasks are stuck on repeat, your efforts feel pointless making it hard to find meaning. Recurring crises, persistent busy work, and never-ending issues top the list.

Since a good amount of life and work does involve repetitive tasks, where do we find meaning?

A MEANING MINDSET

 

First of all, it’s important to remember that meaning is a mindset. Mindset is any attitude you take toward work that dictates your experience of it. A mindset is a collection of your thoughts and beliefs and with a little work, can always change.

If you have a positive mindset toward work, you’ll expect things to go well.

If you have a growth mindset toward work, you’ll see opportunities for learning.

And if you have a meaning mindset toward work, you’ll be able to see the significance in most everything you do, including the boring stuff.

MEANING IS ALL AROUND YOU

 

According to Emily E. Smith, positive psychologist and author of The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters, there are four pillars of meaning. They are belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence. Meaning can be found in any one of these areas, but a combination of them all will create your fullest life. Let’s look at each one.

Meaning is found in quality relationships. These are the kind of connections in which there is mutual care as well as frequent positive interactions. Shared experiences and personal revelations with others lead to more meaningful relationships at home or work.

Meaning is found in purpose. When you take the time to consider the reason for your activity, like who it serves or how it makes life better, you’ll see meaning in the mundane. Asking yourself questions such as What strengths am I using?, What would happen without this work?, How am I helping my whole team? will give you eyes to see deeper meaning.

Use this Mining for Meaning worksheet to uncover meaning in your work.

 

Meaning is found in storytelling. When you can look at the chapters of your life and make sense of what has happened to you, you’re tapping into meaning. Storytelling involves making sense of suffering, finding the good in the bad, and seeing your story as one of redemption. Instead of thinking that some life event has happened to you, meaning is found when you can explore the way it has occurred for you.

Finally meaning is found in transcendence, the connection you have to something bigger than yourself. Transcendence involves awe and mystery and for many of us, faith in God. Faith is the ultimate trust in meaning. When you experience meaning in this way, you are able to rest easy knowing that everything that touches your life has been sifted through the hands of a loving and intentional God. You may not understand why things happen, but the connection to faith in God, gives each event or experience meaning, as you accept it and at the same time embrace the awe and mystery.

HOW TO GET A MEANING MINDSET

 

In addition to developing the four pillars in your personal and professional life, there are a few more things you can do to adopt a meaning mindset.

1. Notice your emotions. 

Whenever you feel proud, important, hopeful, appreciated, respected, confident, intelligent, worthwhile, valuable, or satisfied you are experiencing one of the powerful emotions. Powerful emotions signal significant work. These are your moments of meaning, and they are probably happening more often than you know. Download the Feeling Wheel to learn more about your emotions.

2. Hire your job.

In his book, The Happiness Advantage, positive psychologist Shawn Achor, describes a quick and easy way to find meaning in your work: pretend you have to hire someone to do it. This way you get into sales mode, looking for the good in what you do, and ultimately tapping into the meaning of your work.

3. Write your eulogy.

It’s not easy to think about the end of your life, but if you have the courage to go there, you’ll find out what is truly meaningful to you.

Start by thinking of all the people you want to be at your funeral: your spouse or significant other, your parents and children, your friends and extended family, your neighbors, co-workers, bosses, and employees, as well as those that you were sent here to serve.

Next, decide what would you like each one of these people to be able to say about you and your relationship with them. What did you do for or with them? How did your actions or your words impact their life?

Finally, reverse engineer your discoveries by clarifying the actions you can take now to make those eulogies come true. These become the most meaningful goals you could ever set.

DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS THAN MEANINGFUL

 

You were designed with strengths, gifts, and purpose. There is meaning in your personality and what you uniquely have to offer our world. There is meaning in your areas of gifting and the contribution only you can make. And there is meaning in your purpose, the very specific mission you are here to complete in pursuit of the vision you have for our world.

When life feels boring or overly busy, go deeper. Never settle for a surface level understanding of your work or, as often happens, your value. You are here to make a difference, whether for one or for many. You matter. Your meaning matters. Don’t rest until you are clear what that is.

 

For extra credit, check out the resources in our Fullest Life Essentials. And if you’d like more support, I would love to talk to you about turning your purpose into your fullest potential. Book a call today.

 

In your corner,

 

 

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