- Business coach Cat LeBlanc regularly sees clients whose work is meaningful, but they’re still unhappy in their jobs.
- That’s because meaning alone isn’t enough to make you love a job, she explains.
- Your day-to-day work has to align with your mission, or you’ll still be unhappy.
It seems like everyone is talking about meaningful work lately.
Having a sense of meaning at work is listed as one of the top three factors to engagement and employee satisfaction, studies are done on the most and least meaningful jobs, and a great deal of attention is paid by upper management to bringing purpose to work.
But there’s a growing proportion of people who come to me for business coaching who on the surface appear to already be doing meaningful work – and they still have low levels of job satisfaction and are searching for alternatives.
Often these people are in the medical or teaching professions, the very professions supposed to have the most meaning.
So why are people in supposedly meaningful jobs still experiencing low job satisfaction?
It’s not because having purpose in work isn’t important – it’s because meaningful work isn’t enough.
What I’ve discovered through speaking with many of these people is even if your work is aligned with your values and you believe in the mission, it doesn’t matter if your day-to-day job is not suited to how you prefer to work.
This is because you need to show up and perform your tasks on a daily basis, and if those tasks are grating against your personality, you can’t do your best work – and you certainly won’t feel satisfied.
I have spoken with doctors who feel they are unable to truly help their patients because of the way they are forced to organise their schedule.
I’ve spoken with occupational therapists who love their work but want to be able to try more innovative approaches and can’t.
I’ve honestly lost count of the number of teachers I’ve spoken with whose restrictive work environments takes all meaning out of their role.
Oprah hit the nail on the head when she said:
“Align your personality with your purpose, and no one can touch you.”
Your individual patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving matter, and if you are working against your natural work style, even with meaningful work, you are still going to be unhappy.
What can you do?
If you are in a corporate environment with little flexibility, look at where there is freedom within your role to work to your strengths.
If you work better on single tasks at a time, can you batch certain tasks so you work on one thing before the next?
If you are problem-solving and are someone who prefers using proven processes, can you find existing methodologies rather than feeling under pressure to come up with something on the fly?
If you are in business you will have more freedom over your environment, but don’t automatically think that everything is going to just fall into place just because you are the boss!
It absolutely is possible to reconcile your work style with a meaningful role. The key is to be aware of how you work best rather than operating on autopilot.
In order to achieve your goals and be satisfied in your work you need to feel good on a day-by-day basis.
When you approach purposeful work deliberately and work with your natural work style rather than against it, you will be infinitely more satisfied and truly get the best of both worlds.
“Meaning” might sound good, but it isn’t the full picture.
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