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Defining Meaningful Work: What Does it Mean and How is it Valuable?

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Over the course of your lifetime, you will spend an average of 90,000 hours at your job. In other words, the work you do will have a sizable impact on your quality of life. People who are passionate about their work will find that these tens of thousands of hours are well spent and contribute to their life’s purpose.

On the other hand, those who do not feel this affinity for their positions may find themselves more prone to increased stress and mental health struggles. When people find themselves faced with this burden, it does not stop when they leave their workplace. The stress and exhaustion from an unfulfilling job can easily carry over into the rest of life, with people feeling more overwhelmed while managing household tasks and responsibilities. Friendships and their personal lives may also suffer when people feel weighed down by their occupations.

Purposeful work, however, can be a positive factor in life. Finding a career that aligns with your personal values and goals can offer a number of benefits, not just for yourself but your business as well. Let’s explore some of the benefits of finding an occupation with this deeper connection.

What is meaningful work?

Meaningful work helps people feel a part of something larger than themselves. They feel motivated by the tasks set before them and inspired to do their best possible work. 

When people have a position that feels significant, it helps them feel an authentic link to their career and society around them. These types of positions help to contribute to their idea of a purpose in life.

Humans, generally speaking, like to know that the effort they put forth matters to the greater community. This might include the team they participate in, the company as a whole, or even their entire city or state. What this type of work involves will be highly individual, combining what matters most to a specific person with their unique mindset. When a person cares about their assignments and has an attitude for finding value and realizing the potential they have in this particular position, they set the stage for a rich and fulfilling career.

 In order to accomplish these goals, however, people need to understand the value that this consequential work might offer them as well as some places where they might find such an occupation.

What value does a meaningful job offer?

People have long studied the importance and value of creating an environment of meaningful occupations. They have found that when people feel a high level of attachment to the tasks in front of them, it helps to contribute to positive well-being in a variety of ways.

Improved mental health

People who feel bonded to the duties that they perform, and report that they feel as though they contribute to the greater good of the world around them, also indicate lower levels of depressive symptoms. People with lower levels of depressive symptoms can also be more productive. Studies have indicated that higher levels of depression are linked with more work absences and poor performance.

Depressive symptoms can also make it harder for people to accomplish fundamental life tasks, such as maintaining their home environment or even enjoying the company of friends impacting their overall quality of life.

Creating a strong sense of purpose

When people find value in their occupation, it can also help them feel more connected to the task at hand. Feeling attached to the position and belonging to the team can also contribute to an incredible boost in tangible benefits for the business, with 50% less turnover and a 56% increase in job performance.

 Those who feel a strong affinity for their trade and workplace become more likely to recommend it to others and work harder for the group’s success. This benefits the organization and gives the employee the satisfaction of knowing that their efforts contribute to the good of everyone involved.

Make new acquaintances and find new friends

People who uncover beneficial professions will also find it easier to make new connections and friends. A career that resonates with their sense of self and significance in the world will help them link with others who have similar interests. They will have a greater chance of meeting other people at work and through their professional networks who share these ideas, enriching their relationships.

When people feel bonded to their organization and coworkers and can see that the effort they put forth has value, it improves their mental and physical health. The employees themselves also feel happier, which boosts their productivity and efficiency, helping the organization thrive.

Deepen your faith

While work can be challenging and rewarding, it can also provide a great opportunity to deepen your faith. Showing integrity, exhibiting ethics, and offering encouragement are practical ways to help create a positive work environment. As you make decisions in the workplace, lean on God and listen to His guidance. 

Dr. Ben Ries, ACU Online’s Associate Dean for Vocational Formation, trusts that God longs for the world to be a place of human flourishing and therefore recognizes that work is connected to the life and mission of God. “Meaningful work is not just found in personal and communal connections, it is also found in the ways our work embodies God’s longing for a more just, peaceful, kind, loving, and whole world.”

If you are looking to advance your education so you can find meaningful work, ACU Online offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate degrees that you can earn from the comfort of your home. Visit ACU Online to learn more about our degree programs. 

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