PURPOSE AND MEANING. Have you ever wondered what your purpose is? What are you here for?
Take your job, for instance
The problem is that what we think matters most in our jobs and our lives often do not align with what will really make us happy – in alignment with our values. Even worse, we don’t notice that gap until it’s too late.
Good intentions are not enough—you’re not implementing the strategy (if you had one?) that you intend if you don’t spend your time, money, and talent in a consistent way with your intentions. How are you going to decide which of those demands gets resources? Many people fall into the trap to allocate their time to whoever screams loudest and their talent to whatever offers them the fastest reward. That’s a dangerous way to build a strategy.
As it turns out, the three most essential qualities that make our work meaningful, agreed on by most professionals and creatives, are:
It’s crucial to have a good level of authority and a clear amount of responsibility for your work. Forcing yourself or your employees to work harder will never work if there is no freedom provided for you or them to own the work.
That’s why the current model of extrinsic motivation in the workforce failed miserably. This is the tendency to force people to work with a sweeter carrot or a sharper knife.
If the deal is to do nothing for five years for a million dollars, most people will go insane before they get their hands on the money.
Overly simple and easy work will break us, just like overly difficult work. For us to consider our work as something that matters, it has to come with the right balance of complexity. It needs to make us feel challenged and engaged at the same time.
The clear connection between effort and reward
This part is easily understood by most people. The connection between the input—time, energy, money—and the reward—money, reputation, recognition—has to be clear and at least predictable. No one wants to spend their entire life working on something that neither makes them money or makes them feel good.
When we see our work as something meaningful, it becomes effortless for us to feel motivated and to want to hustle harder for it. Hard work is a prison sentence only if the work has no meaning to you. Once it does, it becomes a thing that drives you forward without you noticing.