Core motivations are the things you are uniquely and naturally motivated to do. These are the things that energize you, and that give you a sense of meaning and fulfillment because they express something central to your identity.
by Todd W. Hall, PhD • Rosemead School of Psychology
I’m sure you’ve been there. You work hard, and grind through the daily tasks. You’re productive. But something is missing inside. If you’re like me, lurking in the background is the question: “At the end of the day, week, month, and years, will it add up to something meaningful?”
Create Meaning in Your Work
We all want to do meaningful work—work that contributes to the well-being of others in a way that uniquely expresses and defines who we are.
The problem is we often expect meaningful work to be given to us—to come from outside ourselves. If only the boss would give me the right project. If only the right job would land in my lap. Even if you get a job or project that has a direct line of sight to meaningful outcomes, you can still approach it in a way that doesn’t create meaning.
In short, we often give away our responsibility to create meaning in our work.
Meaningful Leadership is a Work of Art
Meaningful work isn’t given to us. Meaningful work is a work of art. We create meaningful work day in and day out. Or, put differently, we infuse our work with meaning. It involves what you do and how you do it. If you take small steps each day toward creating meaning in your work, you will express and define who you are in the meaning you create.
If you have a formal leadership position, your job is to create meaning for your team and organization. Even if you don’t have a formal leadership position, you can still create meaning for your team through your contributions and the way you approach your work. There are two compelling reasons why you should do this.
- Meaning contributes to the well-being of your co-workers and your team as a whole, which is intrinsically valuable.
- Meaning has market value.
In their book, The Why of Work, Dave and Wendy Ulrich document the market value of meaningful work. Employees who find and create meaning in their work develop their competence more than those who don’t. They are more committed and productive. They stay longer and experience higher levels of job satisfaction. More engaged employees, in turn, leads to increased customer commitment.
Two Big Ideas to Help You Create Meaning at Work Today
Here are two tips to help you create meaningful work starting today…
Todd W. Hall, PhD is Professor of Psychology, Director of the Institute for Research on Psychology and Spirituality, and Editor of the Journal of Psychology and Theology, at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University, in the Los Angeles area. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Biola University, and a doctoral specialization in measurement and psychometrics from UCLA. Using his expertise in clinical psychology, spirituality, leadership, and organizational development, Dr. Hall helps leaders and organizations maximize their potential and effectiveness.