Here you go again. Another day at the office. One long loop of meetings and emails with no real goals met. Wake up the next day and repeat. Ouch. The pain of this workday malaise is not just in your head. Your meaningless job is actually hurting you.
Research shows that a lack of mission and achievement can be damaging to your health and well-being. But when you actively pursue purpose, you get an entirely different story -- the health benefits are dramatic.
There is a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Greater likelihood of a long life. And it even seems to lead to an overall commitment to caring for your own health with preventative care, such as cholesterol tests, colonoscopies, and mammograms.
Of course, the concept of "purposeful work" means different things to different people. So let's focus on the work part. Some may realize meaningful value from volunteer work, while others may find it trading commodities or teaching kindergarten kids.
The point is that we all crave self-directed objectives -- the opportunity to strive towards goals that matter to us. For me, it is about creating a high-performing organization that helps other companies reinvent how they innovate and build products. A place with no drama where customers and employees can be their best.
Working towards this together at Aha! stretches each of us, pushing us to create real value for one another. That is one reason that we set clear goals and allow people to work wherever they are most productive. And yes, health is an added advantage. But it is not the only one.
Here are three more ways good work can improve your life:
When you are guided by a purpose, you will get more done. This is because you are not dreading each task that comes in. Rather, you are motivated by your desire to accomplish something real and lasting. Your work environment plays a large role in this. A recent study found that "purposeful leaders" -- defined as those who share a clear vision of the work -- drive the most productive teams.
Research shows that you are more likely to stay with an organization if you derive meaning and significance from the work. And with commitment comes growth. The longer you stay in one place, the more opportunities you will have to build your skills, develop strong working relationships, and move into new roles.
I do not believe there are many honest shortcuts to generating your own wealth. However, most of the world's richest people will tell you that they find meaning in the work they do each day. And then there is the research: One study found that people who reported a greater sense of purpose also accumulated greater wealth.
Purposeful work should not be an unattainable goal. Although I recognize that many people are not able to do exactly what they would like. Maybe you are in a job where you feel stuck -- not working towards anything meaningful. I am not suggesting that you need to quit that job today. But I am saying that you should be aware that there could be long-term consequences to this kind of aimless work.
So, how can you find more direction even when you feel trapped by financial obligations that I know are real? Start by writing down what you really care about. If your current work is aligned with what inspires you, this exercise will give you a sense of gratitude. Grab onto that feeling and use it to propel you forward.
But if this exercise reveals that you are not working towards your true vision, then use this knowledge to try to focus on aspects of your job that do make you happy. Talk with leaders at your company to see if you can find ways to build on those areas in your current role. Or maybe work on a plan that will give you the skills you need to move closer to what you are truly passionate about.
You deserve more than an endless cycle of "another day at the office."
How do you find meaning at work?