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Want More Meaningful Work?

Want More Meaningful Work?

BY Michelle McQuaid

With work demanding more and more of our time, perhaps it’s not surprising more than fifty percent of us crave a sense of meaning in our work.

Let’s be honest, from time to time most of us have thought about chucking in our soulless corporate jobs and heading off to a developing country or a run down neighborhood to see if we can make the world a little better.

But is having a sense of meaning at work a luxury most of us simply can’t afford?

Can Meaning Be Found In Any Job?

Associate Professor Michael Steger and his colleagues have found that when we have a sense of meaning in our work our level of job satisfaction, career commitment and organizational commitment all go up.

Their studies also suggest it improves our wellbeing with an increased sense of life satisfaction and decreased feelings of hostility, stress and depression at work.

Research evidence and case studies testify to the reality that understanding how people approach work and what they get from it is vital to learning how to achieve the best possible outcomes for individuals and organizations.

But can meaning be found in any job?

Even if your organization isn’t proactive in providing meaning around what you do each day, the good news is there’s plenty you can do to make your work more meaningful – no matter who you work for or what your job description says.

Michael suggests we can find more meaning in our jobs by taking five simple steps: Finding our Strengths, Personalization, Integration, Resonance and Expansion. Referred to as SPIRE.

In this episode of Chelle McQuaid TV, I’ll show you exactly how you can apply these steps to make your work more meaningful.

Can You Find Meaning In These 5 Steps?

Michael recommends we SPIRE our jobs to create individual meaning.

When I completed my Masters in Positive Psychology I was working in a marketing role for a large accounting firm where finding meaning didn’t come easy. I wanted to start using what I had learnt to make the world better, not making rich old men more money. But my family needed my salary.

As a means of preserving my sanity and finding more meaning in what I did I decided to play with ways to SPIRE the role I had.

The first thing I did was take the free Values In Action Survey to discover my strengths and find ways to start using my curiosity, my creativity, my hope and my gratitude in the way I went about my work.

Secondly, while the marketing work didn’t give me much reason to get out of bed, the chance to bring out the best in the team of people working for me helped me personalize the role in a way that provided more meaning.

Thirdly, being passionate of the belief positive psychology can help improve our wellbeing, I decided I could integrate these ideas into my work activities in the ways I’d manage and nurture my team.

Fourthly, when I dug through the company vision and mission statements I found a corporate intention to “unleash the potential of our people” that aligned with my personal mission.

And finally, I tuned into the stories my staff started telling me about how the approaches I’d introduced were improving their own lives and those of their families to expand the sense of meaning about what I was achieving.

I wasn’t saving the world, but I genuinely felt I was making my little corner of it a little better and this made a huge difference in the way I felt about, and performed, my work.  This sense of meaning also gave me the confidence and financial freedom to be able to later leave this job and create the kind of difference I’d longed for.

So how could you play with some of these approaches to reframe the sense of purpose you currently have in your work?

You can take Michael’s free survey to see how much meaning you’re finding at work or watch him talk about the value of meaning at work and what organizations and individuals can do to make jobs more meaningful.

How could you SPIRE your role to create more meaning at work?

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