This is part two of a 3-part series where we get real about what people most want from their work: money, meaning, and impact.
What is meaning? Merriam-Webster defines it as: significant quality especially : implication of a hidden or special significance
Is meaning this big, grandiose, mystical thing that I eventually find or discover? Or is it right here in front of me and I am overthinking it like I do most things? Sidebar: if overthinker describes you or anyone else in your life, you’ll love this book !
It’s been my experience that meaning comes from living a life in alignment with my values. Meaning comes from doing stuff I care about with people I care about. Meaning comes from choosing to be a decent human when I can and encouraging others to do the same. As one of my former managers liked to say, “This ain’t rocket surgery.”
For me, there is meaning in the little things. Like talking on bananas like they’re phones at breakfast with my kids. Or wearing a funny t-shirt or socks that make me smile. Or greeting a stranger at the grocery store and chatting for a few minutes.
Maybe those things don’t seem meaningful to you, but they are to me. Quality time with my family and friends. Remembering not to take life or myself too seriously. Extending kindness to another human because we all need more of it.
It’s the special significance in each day that makes life meaningful. I could just as easily bury my face in my phone and check emails at breakfast, but why in the world would I give up a chance to talk on a banana phone?
So what about at work? Does my work have meaning?
Yes. I love teaching, coaching, and helping others get unstuck. I love sharing my enthusiasm and inspiring others to take positive action. I am using my strengths in service of others daily, and more importantly, it helps them get where they want to go. I transform careers so others can work authentically and experience joy on the regular.
The meaning I get from work is the same as the meaning I find in life: quality relationships and laughter and kindness.
We don’t accident into one giant meaning-filled existence. We intentionally choose to create it one tiny piece of special significance at a time.
#PositiveAction Not everyone has meaning in their work today, so please don’t feel like a failure if that’s you. Instead, I want to encourage you to think about what is the smallest thing you could change to create a small piece of meaning. And then add on another one. And another.
Want to dive deeper? Here’s a few of my recommended books on meaning (affiliate links):
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl
The Art of Living by Epictetus (Sharon Lebell translation)
Photo by me, banana phone conversation not included.