4 Ways To Find Meaning In The Job You Supposedly Hate

by Andrew Davidson

I’ve been reading a bunch of articles lately about Millennials quitting unsatisfactory jobs to find work that makes them happy.

I read about one woman who gave up her $95,000 salary to scoop ice cream on a tropical island, and I saw another about a guy who said he’s setting himself back in his career in favor of a happier life.

I must admit, I could relate because I’ve thought about quitting my job many times myself.

When I read those articles, I had just started a new job at one of the largest sports television networks in the United States.

I was pretty certain this was going to be my dream job, but like many people my age, I quickly realized it was not exactly what I thought.

Within just a few short months, I found myself stressed and exhausted, and I was suffering from anxiety attacks that landed me in the emergency room one evening after work.

I knew something needed to change, but I wasn’t sure where to start.

I began by asking myself, "Why are so many Millennials setting themselves back in their careers in search of happiness?"

"Is it necessary to set yourself back in order to find happiness?"

"Is it really impossible to be happy within a so-called boring, corporate job?"

"If we do change our jobs, will it even make a lasting difference, or will we find ourselves unhappy again in six months to a year?"

After about a year and a half of reading, questioning friends and mentors and much self-reflection, I have arrived at some conclusions about happiness at work.

I hope some of my thoughts may help you make up your mind about whether or not to leave your job.

Don’t quit your job to find happiness.

There was a movie I watched recently called, “Hector And The Search For Happiness.”

The movie is about a man named Hector who is unsatisfied with his job and life.

Hector leaves to travel around the world to learn what makes others happy, and in turn, he find happiness himself.

He returns from his journey with the realization he had everything he needed to be happy the whole time.

Victor returned with a new perspective on life because he realized he had been searching for happiness, not for purpose and meaning.

Victor’s new perspective helped him change the lens through which he saw the world.

Shawn Achor says,

[I]t’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And If we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, but we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.

How would our jobs and daily lives look if we changed the lens through which we viewed them?

It’s easy to get the lens of our minds defocused.

We come out of college so passionate and fired up to make a meaningful impact.

Then, we enter a corporate job that discourages individualism and encourages busy schedules and 60-hour work weeks, as if the amount of hours you work is somehow equivalent to the importance of what you do.

I believe it is possible to find happiness in your work, but if you leave your job in search of happiness, you will never find it.

Don’t chase an artificial high in hopes that because you changed your scenario you will somehow magically become happier.

So, what's the cause?

So many Millennials are leaving their jobs because we have created a society of consumerism: out with the old, in with the new.

Apple must create a new iPhone each year, or we view them as slacking off or as a failure.

We have created a society that is so focused on the next thing that we fail to focus on what’s right in front of us.

We ingest and discard things so quickly that we have begun to believe our jobs should be no different.

We are addicts — glued to our phones and screens so we don't not miss a thing — but we fail to realize we are missing precious moments of our already short existence.

Remember that we don’t pay for these devices with our money, but with hours of our lives.

So many Millennials leave their jobs within six months because they forget work isn’t about making money so we can buy things to make our lives easier and happier.

Our work should be about creating meaning and value in other people’s lives.

By creating value in other people’s lives, you will find your purpose, and in turn, you will find lasting happiness at work.

The only way to find happiness at work is to find a way to create meaning and purpose in your own life.

Stop searching for happiness, and begin to search for meaning and purpose.

I have found ways to create a purpose for why I go to work each day, and in turn, this has caused me to become happier with not only my work, but also my personal life.

Here are four basic steps to transform your views towards work:

1. Encourage one person each day.

Work should be about creating value in other people’s lives.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a customer, but it could be a coworker.

You should remember that if you are feeling unsatisfied and depressed about your work, there is a good chance one of your coworkers is feeling the same way.

This could be a great chance to speak to some of them and share encouragement.

2. Write down what you’re grateful for every day.

We so quickly forget how good things actually are, and how much worse things could be.

There is always something we can be grateful for, and by forcing ourselves to see those things each day, we will eventually do it automatically.

3. Invest in yourself.

Take an hour each day to invest in yourself.

We get so caught up in our work that we forget we need time to rehabilitate ourselves.

If you have a long ride to work, this would be a perfect time to listen to an audiobook.

Spend at least 15 minutes each day just meditating, relaxing and reflecting.

You should exercise daily.

When you’re not healthy, it’s pretty hard to be happy. I know from experience.

Heath equals happiness.

Give yourself positive affirmations.

Force your brain to stop complaining about what you don’t have, and focus on what you do.

4. Get some perspective.

Force yourself to watch or listen to things that will cause you to respond.

This could be as simple as reading a good quote, listening to an interview with someone you respect, reading a chapter of a book or watching a documentary on a subject you feel passionate about.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you should stay in a crappy job.

Some of you may need to change your jobs, and you probably will because our lives are constantly changing and growing.

However, I encourage you to try these four simple steps first.

If you already have a crappy job, you don’t have much to lose.

Simply do work that matters and makes a difference in people’s lives.

That's when you will find happiness.

Zig Ziglar says,

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.