About 90,000 hours of your life will be spent on the job.
Which means it’s inevitable that you may find yourself in a rut at times and disengage from your work.
But pushing through and staying engaged has rewards. In fact, research shows that finding meaning in work can increase an individual’s motivation, engagement, empowerment and personal fulfillment.
If that sounds appealing, here are five specific ways to get started.
1. Go beyond what is asked of you.
Any employee can do the bare minimum. Many squander their time doing just that.
Going beyond what is expected of you, however, can transform you – as well as the trajectory of your career.
But to do that, first make sure you understand the expectations.
Take time to review your job description. See if you’ve been handling all of the items your position entails or if there are some aspects you’ve been overlooking. Reach out to your supervisor to ask what his or her expectations are for your current position.
Once that’s defined, look for ways to go above what’s being asked.
For example, if you’re working in the sales department at a local business, you may notice that most prospective clients seem to ask the same five questions.
Using this knowledge, you could develop a sales sheet or brochure detailing those questions and the answers you provide.
You could then expand the reach of that information by sharing it with your company’s marketing team or posting on the company’s website.
Small things like this go a long way toward growing your expertise — and your engagement — at work.
2. Quiet yourself.
We live in a world full of distractions, even in the workplace. Case in point:
- Americans check their phones about once every 10 minutes, says new research by global tech care company Asurion.
- Responding to emails accounts for three-plus hours of work every day, according to a 2019 study on email usage from Adobe.
- One study from the University of California, Irvine, states that it can take up to 25 minutes to get back on task after a distraction like a popup email notification or checking your phone.
So if you want to be productive at work – which can also influence how much meaning you experience from your job – find a way to remove distractions.
There are a number of approaches you can take, including the five tips we shared in How To Eliminate Distractions In Your Small Business.
However, quieting yourself largely boils down to working on one task for at least 25 minutes.
To do this means you may need to turn off notifications on your computer, including popup email notifications! You may even need to store your phone outside of your office since its mere presence can reduce your cognitive capacity.
If you practice working in focused intervals at home and at work, you’ll quickly notice a change. You’ll be able to finish tasks faster, focus better and get more things done.
And you’ll also feel far more engaged and more accomplished at the end of the day, giving a deeper sense of purpose and meaning to each day of work.
3. Ask about educational opportunities.
Just like your muscles, studies have shown that your brain needs exercise to stay healthy.
So check with your supervisor or human resources department to see if there are opportunities to continue your education, or if the company provides reimbursement for outside classes.
If that’s not an option, seek out free webinars, online lectures and TED Talks relevant to your career or industry. Subscribe to work-related publications or newsletters.
Even reading a book from an industry leader or business expert counts as exercise for your brain. (Bonus: A 2009 study at the University of Sussex showed stress was reduced up to 68% just by reading for six minutes.)
If you’re interested in digital marketing and advertising, here are some of the newsletters our team subscribes to:
4. Set specific goals for for your job this year.
One great way to decide which goals to set personally and professionally is to ask for guidance. Feedback from coworkers, leadership, and friends and family will often reveal specific areas where goals are needed.
One goal could include taking an online course to receive a new certification. Or it may mean reading a few books about effective communication skills to improve your work relationships.
Just remember to keep it SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.
As the great Zig Ziglar said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” If you’re not creating clear goals – and a clear pathway to getting there – your goals will most likely fall to the wayside.
Get more great insights on how to set up goals in seven steps here.
5. Practice gratitude.
Practicing a grateful disposition may protect against burnout in your career, according to a white paper titled “The Science of Gratitude.”
Gratitude may also benefit people with medical and psychological challenges. For example, one study cited within this white paper found that more grateful cardiac patients reported better sleep, less fatigue and lower levels of cellular inflammation.
So take a few minutes at the end of the day to jot down 3-5 things you were thankful for from the day.
It could be sharing a laugh with coworkers or finishing a complicated project. Or it could be as small as being able to see the sunshine from your office window.
Whatever it is, expressing gratitude for a few moments can attach a deeper sense of meaning and significance to your job.
Get More Out of Your Job This Year
Your work this year can be fulfilling, meaningful and empowering.
But only with intentional choices that keep you engaged and focused every day.
Get the most you can out of your job this year by going beyond what’s expected of you, removing distractions from your workspace, seeking out learning opportunities, setting up SMART goals and practicing gratitude.
Remember, you’re spending 90,000 hours of your life at work. Choose to make each moment significant and worthwhile, starting today.