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The first requirement of any job is that it should pay.
But almost as important yet much less commonly recognized, is that a job should feel full of meaning.
Yet, how does a job get to feel meaningful?
What even does it mean to say that a job has meaning?
There seem to be three things that imbue work with meaning.
Firstly, a meaningful job taps into the deepest, most sincere and talented parts of us.
So different people will necessarily find different sorts of work meaningful according to what's inside their deeper self.
For some, meaning might emerge from baking bread.
Others will feel their deep self engaged by computer science.
For others still, they'll feel most fully themselves, most fully alive when investing money
or teaching kids a foreign language.
Secondly, a meaningful job is one which to some extent helps others, which fixes a problem that humans have.
A job which in ways, large and small, serves humanity.
Meaningful work provides a service to others.
And thirdly, a job feels meaningful when the person doing it can viscerally sense, day to day, the impact of their work upon an audience.
Not only is the job theoretically meaningful, it actually feels meaningful as one does it in a course of an average day.
Why should it be so hard to find meaningful work?
Why are we in such a danger of doing work that brings in money but doesn't fulfill the meaning side of us?
Three big reasons stand out.
Firstly, because it's perilously hard for us to locate our true interests
in the time we have, before simply paying the bills becomes the imperative.
Our interests don't manifest themselves spontaneously.
They require us to patiently analyze ourselves,
and try out a range of options to see what feels as if it might have the best fit for us.
But unfortunately, schools and universities, as well as society at large, doesn't place much emphasis on this stage of education,
on helping people to understand their authentic working identities.
There's far more emphasis on simply getting ready for any job than a job that would particularly well-suited to us, which is a pity not just for individuals but for the economy as a whole, because people would always work better, harder and more fruitfully when their deep selves are engaged.
Secondly, many jobs are relatively meaningless because it's very possible, in the current economy,
to generate profits from selling people things that aren't really helping them in any way,
but are more hoodwinking them, or preying on their lack of self-command.
Most of us have a dangerously loose hold on what really brings us satisfaction long-term,
which gives room to entrepreneurs to build huge and profitable businesses
selling stuff which no one's particularly proud of at the end an average day.
Those working in these businesses know in their hearts that they haven't really helped anyone have a better life.
The job pays. That's why they keep doing it, but there's sadly very little meaning.
Thirdly, a job may have real meaning may genuinely be helping others, but it may not feel like this day to day, because many organizations are so large, so slow-moving, so split up over so many continents
that the purpose of everyone's workday gets lost amidst endless meetings, memos, conference calls and admin.
If you're one of the 10,000 people on four continents working towards a product that will help humanity in 2022,
you may well lose the thread of what the real purpose of it all is.
No wonder people who work in large organizations often fantasize about throwing it all in
and working in a job with more tangible sense of the end result.
For example, running a small B&B or landscape gardening firm.
The very scale of modern enterprise has sapped a lot of work of a sense of meaning.
This diagnosis helps to point the way to what we might begin to do to make work more meaningful for people.
Firstly, pay a lot more attention to helping people find their vocation, their real working authentic selves
through moves like career psychotherapy, extended work placements and changes to school and university curricula,
so as to allow students to start to analyze their identities and aptitudes from a much younger age.
Secondly, the more we as customers can support businesses engaged in meaningful work, the more meaningful jobs there will be.
Consumers have an enormous power over what kind of lives we can have as producers.
By raising the quality of our demand, we raise the number of jobs there are which can answer to mankind's deeper needs.
Thirdly, in businesses which should do meaningful work but on too large a scale over too long a period for it to feel meaningful day to day,
we need to get better at telling stories of what the business is up to.
We need to give work some of the intimacy of a small B&B even if it's a giant multinational.
Ensuring that work is meaningful is vital. It's not a luxury.
It determines the greatest issue of all in modern economics and politics:
how hard and well people will work,
and therefore, how successful and wealthy our societies can be.
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人生好難,到底要如何找到有意義的工作呢? (How to Find Meaningful Work)

29797 分類 收藏
Sally Hsu 發佈於 2018 年 5 月 28 日    Sally Hsu 翻譯    Evangeline 審核
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