Graduating with a degree in Anthropology, I never pictured myself working in the private sector, and definitely not in manufacturing.
But life happens, and I found myself in the business world. And for a long time I struggled with finding meaning in my work.
What’s the point, I thought?
Why am I working so hard at something so mundane? How is this benefiting the world?
What saved me was realizing that my work as a manager made an impact every day. Maybe I wasn’t going to change the world by making digital projectors or truck parts, but I could change how the people in my charge felt about their work. I could change how they spent their time, how they engaged with each other, and how successful they were in their careers.
I realized my job was about helping people.
Yes, I had operational goals as well, but the beauty of well-rounded, motivated employees is that they have a practical value: they perform better. A positive work experience that helps individuals achieve their personal goals benefits the whole organization.
So when you’re looking for meaning, struggling with the “why am I here?” question, try this:
Refocus on your team.
How can you help them grow their skills, or meet their personal or professional goals? Is there an outside project someone is meaning to pursue? Perhaps you can help them through networking, planning, or encouragement.
Think about how you can better meet their needs and maybe you’ll meet more of yours in the process.
How about you? Have you struggled with finding meaning in your work?
Revised from original post – August 21, 2013