Finding meaning in what you do in your personal and work life is a critical factor in not only well-being but also performance. For one person, this meaning may be spiritual, for another, family, or a goal. But in each case, it rests on a set of values and a purpose – looking for the personal meaning in all situations. By aligning personal meaning and doing what matters most, you can create a focus and source of energy that can help you cut through much of the chaos around them. A purpose-driven motivation also results in higher levels of sustained energy, increased interest and confidence, as well as greater persistence and creativity. People who make meaning for themselves by using concrete goals and strong value systems protect themselves from being overwhelmed even in the most extreme sorts of adversity.
Here are a few tactics you can consider using to create meaning in your day to day life:
- Focus on your personal values
A good way to start is to ask yourself what values is so important to you that you would teach it to your children as the basis of a happy life. Define these values, write them down and tell others. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, recommends asking yourself, “If I inherited $20 million, would I spend my days the way I do now?” and “If I knew I had only 10 years to live, would I stick with my current job?” Once you know what your values are, explore the links between your personal and your workplace’s values and see whether they are aligned.
- Have a plan for the future
It is easier said than done, but try to orchestrate your life around meaningful things. Take the time to think about the next phase of your life and how you will imbue it with meaning. Identify the direction your life has taken and make course corrections to get you where you would like to be.
- Connect with your sense of purpose
Remember that you cannot do it all – prioritise so that you can spend time doing what matters most. Be intentional about building in opportunities to reconnect with what is meaningful to you. Regularly choose one thing in your life that does not matter and that hinders you and discard it. Know your strengths – identify the things you do best, those you enjoy most, and those that give you the most energy at work, and capitalize on these strengths. Experience your work as an expression of your creativity and find ways to use the strengths and abilities that are unique to you
- Spend time developing relationships
Build deeper relationships with people. Identify your most meaningful relationships and devote time to them – reconnect with important people from the past, especially those with whom you engaged in meaningful activities. Ask people how they are doing and really listen to their responses; find out what motivates them and ask about their values and concerns.
- Take it easy
Learn your limits. Pay attention when you feel that you had enough and do not exceed your limits without rest and recovery. Take regular breaks from work, eat or drink something nutritious or take a short walk. Make time for yourself to reflect every day and make this time away from the needs of others.