Finding meaning in a meaningless job

I have heard many people tell me how much they hate their job or how they have a difficult time finding meaning in their work. The idea of spending most of our “working” hours in jobs that intrinsically have deeper meaning and purpose is an inspiring idea. Yet most of us will spend at least a share of our life in seemingly meaningless jobs. But are they truly meaningless if they do not engage our deeper emotions or humanitarian visions? Have we failed to live up to our potential as a human being? Or is there something of value still to be found?

a purpose in enablement

When I realized the primary (or maybe only) reason I was keeping the job I had was for a paycheck, a red flag was raised. I found no passion in my work, no healthy challenge. Many of my friends in large cities seem to wrestle with this. They achieve a career goal of position or salary, then find their free time or quality of life to be almost non-existent. This is not a good place to remain in life but it could be an important step in enabling other goals. For example, provides enough money for hobbies outside of working hours, pays your rent and feeds your family.  Maybe this salary can enable the NEXT STEP in life. Starting your own business, trying to write and publish a book, taking an extended travel around the world or finding other interesting ways to give back to the world around you?

A Meaning in change

Maybe your 40hr workweek is spent doing a job that you find intrinsic meaning in. If you are one of these people that have the opportunity to quit your “day job” and work in something that you are passionate about and it provides enough money to feed yourself and put a roof over your head, better yet. As a musician and writer, I am very fortunate to finally be focusing on my creative pursuits. This moment didn’t arrive without many years (appx 10) of working on some business projects I had very little passion for.

frozen identity

There can be a real struggle to leave our jobs behind. Frequently, even if we hate our work, our identity is tied closely to the position we hold or the money we make that even the thought of quitting would totally undermine our image of ourselves. (a professional or economic success for example) Learning how to divorce who we are from what we do can be a painful, yet worthwhile practice. (click HERE for a previous article I published about this topic)

a question of value

It all comes down to what we value. Money is very valuable if we have little to none of it. If there is a sufficient amount of money to cover basic living expenses, then our emotional well being, stress, and self-development start rising in value.  Maybe you are a person who really likes brand name clothes or more expensive cars and furniture. If so, you will likely need to sacrifice more of your time, effort and potential well being to have them.  (Sacrifice is a very uncommon path in a world where we are accustomed getting what we want NOW!) There is nothing wrong with appreciating quality possessions. As long as you are aware where these things belong within your value system.

Well done

Sometimes I overlook the value simply in doing something well. Especially when doing menial tasks. When I think about it a little deeper I have new thoughts…Why would I want to be the type of person that does work less than my potential? The Hebrews had some wisdom recorded in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”

Final steps

We won’t always enjoy what we do. But with a little awareness and intention, seemingly meaningless jobs can provide purpose and potential for goals not yet grasped. I hope after reading this article you may see the 5 steps between where you are and where your goal is may very well contain a “meaningless” job. Maybe you feel like you are almost at the peak of a mountain. You have been climbing hard for quite some time. Now you feel the fear of uncertainty, what lies on the other side? Some parts of the unknown can only be discovered by “going” (read MORE). Fear not, step forward.

…the unsettled settler