Hi there and welcome. My name is Kerstin Jatho from 4Seeds Consulting, a transformational coach that assists organisations and individuals from shifting from languishing to flourishing. In this audio, I want to share with you why it matters to find meaning in your work. We as human beings are meaning-making machines.

We always need to understand why we do something, who benefits from it, and why it matters. This is one of the key features that sets us apart from the animal kingdom who do not need to understand why they do certain things. The millennials and the generation Zs who have entered the workplace in the last 10 to 15 years have an immensely high value on me.

It’s something that is extremely important to them, that they want to know how their work impacts on another person, on an organisation, on the team, on the environment, on the community. And so it goes. It’s something that is extremely important to us. And perhaps for some leaders, not something they are accustomed to share.

And meaning has many benefits. So, in a working environment, if you have found meaning you are way more resilient, you enjoy your work, you perform more, you go the extra mile, you’re way more productive, and you volunteer way more in a personal capacity. If you have found meaning, you’ve got enhanced life satisfaction.

Optimism is happiness. And it also buffers against stress or mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, or even overwhelm. So, finding meaning in your life and in work is immensely important. And I’m sure we’ve all heard stories about people who’ve gone into retirement and have suddenly lost meaning and purpose because everything has been about work.

And now work has been taken away from them because they’ve retired and they go, ‘I don’t know what to do anymore.’ They feel rudderless, and they sink into a deep hole of not feeling valued or appreciated. And that is where you can see how important meaning is to us. We really need to, in a working environment, separate meaning in work and at work.

So meaning in work is the concept where you find meaning in your tasks and in your goals and have value alignment with them. And meaning at work is where you have meaning with your social connections and the community and your team members and your peers. So really being connected as one with them.

And I’m sure we can all relate to when the pandemic happened. We found meaning in areas of our lives we had forgotten about. And that was rekindled with suddenly being placed into lockdown situations where we had time. And we got familiar with things we had forgotten about in a work environment. What very quickly diminishes meaning in our work is routine.

Doing same old, same old, quite quickly diminishes that. So, it is very important that we bring in certain strategies in a working environment that raises meaning again. And six of these strategies I want to share with you for using your strengths, really tapping into what naturally is good for you comes easily to you.

1. What’s energising them and bringing them into your tasks?

That just brings in a lot of meaning and being clear on who is impacted by your work.

2. Who benefits from your work?

And it could be a colleague, it could be a peer, it could be a client. It could be a process in a system. So, who really benefits from that and being very clear on that.

3. What do you really value about your work?

The third one is understanding what you really value about your work. What’s really important for you in your working environment?

4. Goal setting

The fourth one is starting to set goals. So yes, you will have goals set to you by your line manager, but it’s also setting goals for yourself where it’s learning to take your tasks and play around with them, make them adventurous. Like, I wonder if I could do this faster or what would happen if I do it differently, or if I do this task backwards or if I approach it from a different angle? So really being in a lot of curiosity and shifting your goals around a bit. So, removing that level of boredom and just changing the challenges.

5. Getting feedback from others

The fifth one is trying to get feedback from others. What meaning your work has on them and what impact it has. So, get feedback from others.

6. Be you in your tasks

And the sixth one is bringing your own personality into tasks. We all do it differently. So, we might come or arrive at the same task destination or the task outcome, but we all approach it from a different perspective and angle, and that really makes it quite exciting.

So bringing in more of your own personality into your tasks. What I would like to encourage you to experiment with is to sit back and assess what tasks really excite you. What are tasks that you look forward to doing that are always the first ones that you do, and what are tasks that you find quite boring?

You know you have to do them, but they don’t energise you that much. See how you can bring in more meaning in the tasks that you always put last on your to-do list and that you perhaps see as a little bit of a chore. Try and see if you can change them around, increase the speed, reverse engineer them bringing your personality, bringing strengths, like what can you do to spice them up a bit?

And change the order and see what happens and see if that brings in different meaning again into a task. The benefit of that is you would minimise the aspect of seeing this task as boring because if we see tasks as boring, they take us longer to actually complete over and above that. They zap a lot of our energy and they’re very draining, and it’s not our best performance. So sometimes it’s really just trying to see if we can reverse engineer things.

Thank you for listening. And I look forward to connecting with you in the next audio.

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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