"There's nothing that says that you have to quit your day job to cultivate meaningful work. There's also nothing that says your day job isn't meaningful work - maybe you've just never thought of it that way."

 We have all heard of people who are not happy at their jobs. "It's just a paycheck", they say. Gallup found over 70% of people unhappy and disengaged at work. Why does it have to be that way?Why do we all want to quit our jobs and start our own businesses? It is these same businesses that grow and hire other people who then feel unhappy. So what goes wrong between when it starts of as a one person show and when it gets to the stage of hiring people? While tackling the problem from an organizational perspective is a mammoth problem, we can tackle it from an individual perspective.

There are a few alignments to look for:

  • Are you playing to your strengths in your job? It is highly important that we are all doing work that employs our strengths. Relying on our strengths helps us feel better and gives us the confidence to do the work. We don't have to spend time mustering the will-power to work as we already feel competent in it. Competence and strengths go hand in hand!
  • Are you doing work that you love? Not all of us fortunate enough to be in our dream jobs pursuing our passion. But there are definitely elements in our dream job that we can bring into the work that we are in. For eg: If you love to play music but don't have the opportunity to make a living doing so, what elements from that job can you bring into your day job? Firstly, identify what elements in your dream job that fuel you? Is it the element of creativity in playing music that you like? Is it the act of working alone? Is it the power of music itself? Based on the elements you identify, there are ways to incorporate that in your day job.
  • According to Maslow's Heirarchy of needs, our basic physiological needs have to be met first before we move on to areas that help us feel self-actualized. This holds true for our careers to. If our careers our not paying us enough to keep a roof over our heads or feed our stomachs, it is very difficult to focus on doing earth-shattering work. There are definitely a few that the world has seen persevere through tough conditions to do the work that they are passionate about, but these are far and few between. Ensure you have your basic needs met first. 
  • When we are past the basic needs stage, we crave for respect, appreciation and a chance to incrementally build up on our strengths at work. At these stages, its not always about the money and benefits. It is about getting the right kind of opportunities, challenging but exciting work and acknowledgement of the value one brings to the table.

As you read through the above bullets, what jumps out at you? What stage are you in your career? What seems to be mis-aligned in your career right now?