Finding meaning through mentality in work

Finding meaning through mentality in work

by Vanessa Ng 07 Jun 2018

We are often led to believe that landing the “perfect” job leads to success, achievement and ultimately, happiness. As a result, anything that falls short of our definition of perfection puts us in a position of wanting. We end up finding our jobs menial and purposeless, leading us to simply work through the movements as though we were more machine than person. We strive to derive meaning from our jobs, when very often the same can be achieved if we change the way we view the time spent at work.


If your purpose in life is to simply be happy, changing your mentality at work instead of the work itself is important. For example, while advancing up the corporate ladder is important and should be an integral part of one’s professional attitude, the truth is that it only provides short-term happiness on the whole. Our mind is quick to adapt to this new benchmark, and before long it becomes a case of “so what’s next” stuck on repeat. Sure – the bump in pay scale is always enviable, but it always comes at a price. Is taking in an extra $1,000 a month going to make that much of a difference if you dread heading off to work each morning?


Another point of contention is the issue of work-life balance. Theoretically, having shorter working hours would provide you with more free time to pursue social and personal activities, which should make you happier. However, research has shown that we are not very apt at using our free time wisely. It is how you spend your time, rather than how much time off you have, that plays a huge part in determining your happiness. If you look at busy entrepreneurs who barely get two hours to themselves on a daily basis yet are still able to remain driven and positive, you can clearly see this rational at work.


Too often do we adopt a mindset that positions our work as a hindrance to lifelong fulfilment or something to get over and done with. When we view something as constant as having a job as an obstacle, our lives instantly become much harder. People are very good at defining their own reality – what you get out of work is entirely dependent on you. While it is unrealistic to expect everyone to be able to enjoy their job, it is not impossible for people to come to terms with it on a positive level. A 10-hour shift job done six days a week is brutal, but is it in service of a greater cause?


In order to have a positive mentality at work, connecting your work to service may be helpful. Understand how you are helping and impacting society at a micro and macro level can grant you a whole new perspective that will shift the way you approach work. You can also invest in relationships within your workplace. Throw the term “networking” out of the window and focus on building meaningful and long-lasting relationships with fellow colleagues instead.


Ask yourself why you are working. Is it to afford a certain lifestyle or to fit some loosely defined mould of success? Think about the emotions that come with that. Now imagine yourself having fulfilled that reason; what would you be doing now? Purpose is built and not magically discovered, so you must take it upon yourself to create your own meaning through introspection instead of expecting it to be delivered to you on a silver plate.