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4 ways to find meaning in your job
When you do the same thing, day in and day out, just for a paycheck, it might make you feel unfulfilled and that your life is meaningless. Here's how to turn that around. - photo by Sarah Anderson
We dont always get the dream job we want. But that doesn't mean you can't find meaning in the work you are doing.

Before you confuse finding meaning with finding happiness, know that the two are not the same. A recent Stanford research project found that almost 400 Americans, when asked if they thought their lives were happy and/or meaningful, associated happiness with what one gets from others and meaning with what they gave and sacrificed for others, according to

A distinction to keep in mind as you consider these four tips to infuse more meaning into your work life.

1. Its not about the money

There is no income level at which people are not desperate for meaning, David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, told The Atlantic.

That said, blue-collar workers could be more satisfied with their jobs than higher-paying white-collar workers because its easier for them to appreciate their accomplishments, an article in noted. Most office work is digitized and therefore hard to appreciate as a product, the article continued.

Furthermore, most companies use what a person earns for the company as a measure of value. But a narrow focus on this figure detracts from a sense of a deeper purpose in work, Time noted.

Look for what your job provides for you besides a paycheck, Time stated.

2. Redefine whats meaningful

Most of us arent doing work thats as altruistic as helping the poor or saving lives, so youll have to find a way that says your job is meaningful to you, noted.

Your meaning could be as simple as providing for your family, or maybe youve found happiness acting as leader to other employees, it continued. Or you might be able to find a way to weave in something youre enthusiastic about into your workplace. gave the example of setting up a company recycling program if youre avid about the environment.

Purpose can be found in the simple moments of life, and that moment can be as small as holding a door open because you want to help out, noted.

And remember that searching for meaning isnt a one-off, but a lifelong process. The purpose you find in providing for your children may end once your children are grown and supporting themselves in their careers, said.

3. Be social at work

Find a sense of community and belonging at your place of work, advised. It can complement or even be a substitute to other communities in your life.

In a society where people increasingly are bowling alone, people crave a place where they can forge friendships and experience a sense of community, noted. suggested never leaving a room until you do something to contribute, make a difference, or leave it better than when you entered.

Through giving insight, a compliment or a friendly ear, you can find purpose. And if you can find purpose in just a room, imagine what kind of difference you can make throughout the next week, the next month, or the next year, it continued.

4. Remember, you have a life outside of work

If the job pays well enough, you probably dont want to quit just because you struggle finding meaning through your work. Instead, find something outside of work that gives you purpose, such as volunteering or tutoring, advised.

You need to balance your life portfolio between four things, Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, told The Atlantic. Faith, family, community and work.

Otherwise, youll wind up with an unbalance portfolio, Brooks said.
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