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Can Your Job Make Your Life Meaningful?

Many people struggle to find meaning in their daily life. Ever wondered why people who seem to have everything are still not happy with their life?

One of the reasons could be that they lack meaning in their life. 

Finding meaning in life is about being of service to people in society. As famously said by Mahatma Gandhi, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” 

Finding meaning in life is about looking to serve a greater purpose, it is about contributing to something larger than yourself. It is about making the world a better place. One of the easiest ways to understand your purpose in life is to ask yourself - “How do I want others to remember me when I am gone?”

Research has found that many people experience a lack of sense of purpose in their life when they retire from their job. Suddenly they have nothing to look forward to and that seems depressing. 

When it comes to finding meaning at work, do all jobs give a sense of meaning? I mean yeah, it would be meaningful to be a doctor and save people’s lives, but what about the people who hate their jobs? Can they also find meaning at work?

Well, it turns out that the answer is yes.

No matter what your job title is, you can still experience meaning at work, through job crafting. 

Let us understand what job crafting is with the help of a story. The origin of this story is unknown. It goes as the following -

One day, as a man was walking on the road, he saw three people working at the construction site. They were building a cathedral. The man walks up to the first bricklayer and asks him “What are you doing?”. He answers, “I am laying bricks.”

He walks up to the second bricklayer and asks him the same question. He replies “I am building a cathedral”. He then walks up to the third bricklayer and repeats his question. The third bricklayer says “I am building a house of God”.

What is our takeaway from this story? The first person sees his work as a job, just something that he has to do to get paid. The second person sees his work as a career, something that he needs to do to get better opportunities and move up the career ladder. The third person sees his work as a calling. For him, it is something that serves others and something that adds meaning to his life. 

A research conducted by Amy Wrzesniewski, the Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Yale School of Management, found that people can find meaning in their work, regardless of what their work is.

In her research, she studied hospital maintenance workers to know how job crafting affects their morale and work experience. As defined by Amy Wrzesniewski and her research team, “Job crafting captures the active changes employees make to their job designs in ways that can bring about numerous positive outcomes, including engagement, job satisfaction, resilience, and thriving.”

During her research, she formed two groups of these workers. One of them followed the job description and the second one followed the process of job crafting to change the way they perceive their jobs. Her findings suggest that the second group of workers was able to find meaning at work. They found a greater purpose concerning their daily tasks. 

This research is important because it points out that no matter what your job is, you can still find meaning at work. 

In her research, she met doctors who saw their job as a daily chore and janitors who saw their work as meaningful. They told about how they found meaning in talking to and taking care of patients. They were able to contribute to the happiness of the patients and found meaning in being of service to them.

No matter what your job description looks like, you can still find meaning at work.