Monday, December 22, 2008

Should I be finding meaning in my work?

One of the more common gripes from otherwise successful senior businessmen (and, yes, they are men) was that they lacked meaning in work. Yes, they earned a small fortune, their children were all at expensive private schools but they lacked a sense of purpose. It gnawed away at their soul.

Well good riddance to all that says Lucy Kellaway in her article in the Financial Times. She writes, "Over the past decade, the rich, professional classes have developed an increasingly unhealthy attitude to their jobs. We took our jobs and our fat salaries for granted and felt aggrieved if our bonuses were not even bigger than the year before. We demanded that the work be interesting in itself and, even more dangerously and preposterously, that it should have meaning."

It's a valid point though not one I entirely agree with. It's quite right that those of us working salaried jobs for a living should not expect to encounter a perfect cocktail of flow / bliss / engagement / purpose - call it what you will. We have to endure hours of painful meetings before something interesting, even fun happens. But if it never happens, if indeed by design of the job it never could happen, then we have a depressing state of affairs.

If your work has no point, no meaning, nothing engaging about it, then I challenge you to do something about it.

Tough questions:

1 look back at your calendar for the last week. Notice where you were truly absorbed; look for moments when you really got things done; find the hours that you let drift by. What can you do to redesign this week and next?

2 Do you have truly SMART goals designed for each project (S = Specific M = Measurable A = Attainable R = Realistic T = Timely)? Write them down now. How do you need to change them to make them smarter?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't part of what went wrong in the financial markets that the meaning got divorced from the money? That profits were possible (for a while at least) without underlying economic fundamentals?