Does the thought of Monday morning affect your Sunday afternoon? Have you outgrown your position and no longer feel challenged? Do you feel that your presence isn’t making an impact? These are potential signals you need to find a new sense of purpose in your career.
Our Lives at Work
Studies show that when contributing to a higher purpose, people are more likely to have a better outlook on life and be more resilient to stress. And yet, here are some common characteristics of today’s workplace:
- Lack of communication
- No job security
- Feeling overworked
- No opportunity for advancement.
Much of corporate America values a model that is largely centered on maximizing shareholder value over purpose. On the other hand, we all like our 401(k)s to increase in value. Many organizations do both—and employees having purpose has a big impact on the outcome. How strong is your bench? Is turnover rising?
We spend about a third of our lives at work, yet just 30 percent of the U.S. workforce reports being actively committed to their work. Trust in corporations is at an all-time low. Shockingly, 67 percent of people trust a stranger more than their boss. There has never been a more crucial time to connect people with their purpose.
Imagine the upside! Increased productivity, cost reduction and talent retention, just to name a few, are critical success factors.
So, what about being happy at work—does that translate to purpose at work? Turns out, maybe not. A large study was conducted considering this very topic. The researchers interviewed 100 people who claimed to be “happy at work”—only 30 claimed to have a purpose. Then another 100 people who characterized their work as “meaningful and having purpose” were asked if they were happy at work. About 70 percent said yes. Purpose matters.
Your Sense of Purpose
The research data shows that only about four percent of us can state a clear, concise purpose of our work. Try it—sit down and write out your purpose. I think you will find it’s not an easy or brief task.
Purpose, of course, varies by individual. Here are a few questions I found regarding purpose in life—they may be helpful in your workplace as well.
- Describe two unique qualities about yourself.
- If your organization was functioning perfectly, how would you describe what that looks like to a stranger?
- If someone forced you to leave the house every day for everything except for sleep, how would you occupy yourself? Now pretend there is no internet, video games or TV. Where would you go and what would you do?
- What activity makes you forget to eat and take bathroom breaks? When are you in “the zone” or experiencing “flow,” what does that look like?
Refocus on what’s important and leave behind whatever is sidetracking you from finding purpose at work. You don’t have to rebuild the entire company—just find a problem you care about and start problem solving. You can contribute and make a difference. That is important, and importance equals purpose.
You deserve a career which brings you a sense of purpose. Don’t wait until next week or after the big project is complete. Don’t wait for your boss. Let’s change the battle cry from “TGIF”—“Thank God it’s Friday”—to “TGIM”—“Thank God it’s Monday!” PM
Chuck Rice, CEO of BRIO Employee Development, is passionate about improving the employee experience within organizations through purpose, self-awareness and trust. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org