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The 3 key factors to create a meaningful job

Recently, I read a study while on a plane that stated that new employees already know after about two weeks whether they will remain with a company for the long term. And still the average person doesn´t quit until two years later, due to unhappiness. Conversely, it´s similar. The companies usually know after about three to six months whether they want to keep a new employee. But even if the answer to this question is no, they usually don´t fire him until an average of three years. The reason for this irrational behavior? Plain and simple, fear. Fear of not finding a better job. Fear of not finding a better employee. Fear of a possible conflict. And so we would rather deal with the alternative, which leads inevitably to one condition: Discontent.

The sure way to discontent

I experienced myself, a couple of years ago, what consequences such triggered behavior can have when I gave a speech about employee motivation to a well-known retail company. Actually, everything went as it always did, until I got a call from my speakers’ bureau a few days later. Because the audience was very enthusiastic after the speech, I was looking forward to positive feedback from the customer. But I was mistaken; instead I received a complaint, because two branch managers quit their jobs the very same day. The fingers were pointed at me because I spoke about the meaning of your own work, the power of motivation 4.0 and active change during my speech. And I admit this accusation ate away at me back then because I was pondering about if and how I could have prevented it.

What helped me was a conversation with an entrepreneur that I was friends with, who told me the following: “What kind of company is this that´s afraid that their employees are going to run away, as soon as the focus shifts to company values and conditions? Personally, I would be more scared that they will stay, even though they mentally quit a long time ago.“ Right he was. Way too many compromises are being made by employees, as well as by the companies.

Find a job that challenges you, satisfies you and that you are grateful for

These circumstances always break my heart, because such an unhappiness driven by fear should not even exist. Because we spend the majority of our waking state at work, nothing should be of higher priority than working in a job that challenges us, satisfies us and that we are grateful for. And companies of any size should also make a conscious effort to make their employees feel welcome and help them reach their full potential. Visionary entrepreneurs have long realized this fact. If people can introduce their abilities, talents and strengths into the right work environment, then they are able to offer extraordinary contributions.

Said that: If you should feel the slightest inkling of unhappiness at work, I would like to invite you to promise yourself to actively change something about it, right here and right now. What do I mean by this? I´m talking about the responsibility to yourself to turn your boring and frustrating profession into a meaningful occupation that you complete daily with high motivation, not just once, but every single day.

Remember: A job is only an ordinary job if you decide to value it as such. Instead, nearly every occupation imaginable offers you the opportunity to express your unique talents and skills. But this is only possible if what you do eight (or more in many cases) hours a day has a deeper meaning and fills you with satisfaction in the morning and gratitude in the evening.

The three key factors to create a meaningful job

So, let us take a look at three possibilities to use the power of a useful occupation to considerably increase the degree of personal responsibility, success and satisfaction. Nothing stifles the feeling of fear like purpose-driven thinking and acting, because suddenly you start to act out of a state of certainty that supplies you with a huge amount of courage and determination.

Key factor #1: Notice the existing meaning

I keep noticing how much of a knee-jerk reaction people have to things at their place of employment that they cannot influence anyway. The unfair supervisor, the lazy colleagues and the way-too-demanding customers bother them. They complain about conditions, company politics and wish back the good old times. While doing that, they forget to look on the bright side of things, at what´s working fine and what makes their own place of employment something special.

I am wholly convinced that truly every job can have its good sides and a deeper meaning—yes, truly every one—but only if you are willing to notice them. So have a close look. Look at the values of your company, the parts that you love about your job and the many little things that fill your heart with joy as soon as you think about them. With such a focus, your ordinary job will turn into a meaningful occupation shaped by satisfaction that offers you the change to express your own greatness.

Key factor #2: Create your own meaning

If, after a thorough search, you absolutely cannot find anything meaningful about your current job, please stifle the impulse of taking on the role of the victim. Start getting active instead. I recently read a nice quote on Instagram: “The world is full of wonderful people. If you can´t find one, be one.“ This has a point, doesn´t it? And the same goes for the question about the meaning of our job.

Even your company, your working place and your job description are full of meaningful aspects. And if you cannot find one, you will just have to create some yourself. There are countless opportunities to give meaning to seemingly unimportant things—accounting, telephone conversations with customers, conversations with co-workers or on the subway ride to your company.

“But, Ilja, what kind of meaning could these things even have?“ I can think of a few possibilities; for example, because it is important to a specific customer, because you are contributing something to the team, because your industry serves an important social purpose or because you want to be a role model to your colleagues. And sometimes the biggest meaning simply lies in a single aspect: What you do is the right thing to do. Because you signed a contract, you said you were going to do it or because someone is relying on you.

Key factor #3: Stop doing things that have no meaning

I can guarantee that you can turn your ordinary job into a meaningful profession with these two options in over ninety-five percent of all cases. But what if you cannot manage to find or create even a little spark of meaning in your job, no matter how hard you try? Then you should try to find a meaningful alternative as soon as possible and follow the notorious wisdom of change: Love it, change it or leave it.

Always follow the old wisdom: „Love it, change it or leave it.”

The thought alone scares you? But what is the alternative, that you keep doing things that frustrate you, restrict you and make you unhappy for eight hours a day? That brings it to forty hours a week, 160 a month and 1,920 a year that you are spending at a job that you don´t like, despise or even hate. Shouldn’t this fact scare you a whole lot more? Face this fear, tear down the mental walls and create a living and working environment that has meaning. You will not regret it.

Let the change begin!


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