Inspiration to Make the Most out of a Meaningless Job

motivational speakerMost people have had the experience of participating in mind numbing work. Waking up every day resenting your alarm clock screaming at you just so you can drag your butt into work.
In most workplaces people vacillate between boredom and anxiety throughout the day. Studies show most people at work don't want to be there; less than 50 percent of people are satisfied with their jobs. Voluntary choice is part of it, at work we are forced to be there which takes some of the joy away. Any way that you can create your own sense of control at work helps restore balance. One of the things we can always control no matter how bad the conditions- is our attitude.
And as a senior leader recently reminded her staff in a humorous motivational speech, this is why they call this a job, this is why we pay you.
If you are in a job situation you don't like, here is some inspiration to keep you engaged:
  • Remember every job has some sort of meaning, if you are struggling, remind yourself who you support. I remember a payroll clerk once shrugged her shoulders while describing her job to me and playfully said... yup, somebody has to do it! 
  • Make something meaningful out of your interactions with others or become really good at performing certain tasks at work, no matter how menial it may seem
  • Keep track of your progress, even on small things. Make it a game to get better, faster or more proficient at certain tasks, always aim to match or beat your best. Measurement creates momentum.
  • Keep a mindful attitude about your job. When you find yourself bickering about colleagues, roles or policies, stop yourself in your tracks and rewire your thoughts to focus on a positive aspect. This mindful practice over time actually rewires the neural pathways to creates more long term happiness. Also, in the moment, a positive thought boosts feel good endorphins and boosts oxygen levels to the brain along with a plethora of other health benefits.
  • Add play to your work. Don't take yourself too seriously at work and your dislike for your work will no longer take center stage.The value of play is it puts you in the present moment where you won't feel fear, resentment or negativity. This heightened sense of awareness manifests moments of flow where you lose track of your doubts and lose yourself in your work. If you can lighten up with others you will also deepen relationships and stress levels will decline.
  • Focus on the rest of your life. If your job provides little gratification, you may need to focus on getting fulfilment and balance outside of work. Strengthen relationships with family and friends, develop a hobby that challenges you, exercise and focus on taking care go yourself. This way you know every day you are taking steps forward.
  • Focus on being a positive influence on others. Many people around us struggle, if you can positively influence one person, you've made a difference.
Above all focus on the things you can control; that may be finding your way out of a miserable job to find something more rewarding. Grumbling over a dead end job is a dead end.

I was a motivational speaker at a healthcare leadership summit last year where they hosted a lively motivational talk about why people are motivated to work.  A larger than I expected portion of the audience agreed that when it comes to work- what people really care about is money.

I think this is a very simplistic, narrow view of why people work and I know it is not true.

For instance, there are some strange things people do that have nothing to do with money. Some very motivated people climb mountains, do yoga, volunteer and none of this is linked to money.

People are motivated to work for many reasons not related to money. In fact, to be strictly motivated by money would be not very exciting at all. I think the more that anyone in a leadership position spends linking work to meaning, the more powerful a leader they will be.

If you think the essence of meaning in your work is unimportant to the work itself-  your leadership will not make an impact.

Every job, no matter how menial has relevance. To kick of the new year I'd like to suggest everyone in an organization have a strong contemplative look at the kind of contribution they make through their work.

 Here are some activities to get you started:

Search out:

- Individual Customer Feedback. To get the ball rolling, you may need to call up past customers and beat a compliment out of them. Eventually though, you will start to see  patterns of how individuals have been impacted by your work.

-Team Contribution. Ask yourself, If you didn't show up for work for a week ( and nobody else did your job), how would the team function?

-Community Contribution. Now, link how your job impacts the larger community. Not just individual customers but there workplaces, friends, families, how they do business, etc.

Be Specific. Instead of saying you make life easier for others, dig deep and outline how.

See the final product. If your job entails contributing one  part to a bigger product, it's important to go out and see how the final product engages others.

Go back to the Basics. Break down everything you do and think about how it can be improved.

 Notice Improvements. Think back on the last year and notice how you have improved your performance.

 When you first enter work you have enthusiasm and lust for the work and over time it is beaten out of you. Remind yourself why you chose your line of work in the first place.

I enjoyed being a motivational speaker at a healthcare leadership summit. I started off the motivational talk by discussing the myth that money motivates!

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