Why does everything have to make sense
Why your job doesn't have to make sense!
"If we permanently violate our own values in our job, we become unhappy!"
So far, so good - sounds plausible - and probably each of us has read it somewhere in one way or another. When I dealt with this sentence, I thought it had made a “click” again - but a much bigger “click” was waiting in secret.
Sure, my work has to make sense!
And I had missed meaning for a long time with my previous work, between reports, meetings and annual planning. That's it - we all want to do something meaningful in our lives, right?
“I also mow the lawn for A13 (salary class for civil servants)! I would just like to do something useful " was one of those sayings that are still in my ear.
It must make sense!
Back then I wrote a total of 14 values on my whiteboard that seemed important to my job. Meaningfulness was one of them, authenticity another, and family also played a role. I never wanted to violate these values again.
Because to find out which value is the most important for me, I used a simple prioritization method from coaching or project management: Compare each value with each other and always choose exactly one of them that you would prefer to the other. For example, if you had to choose between “prosperity” and “advancement,” what value would you take?
So I compared each of my values with each other (instructions at the end) and always put a line behind the winner and at the end counted out which value has the highest number.
It just left me speechless!
The last value was with zero dashes: "Meaningfulness".
At first I thought I had made some mistake, I was even a little ashamed
... but then the penny finally fell once and for all!
It doesn't have to make sense!
What I do - what you do - doesn't have to make sense.
You don't have to do anything sensible - "sensible" what is that anyway - there are other things that are much more important than that!
You don't have to strive for meaningfulness ... Meaningfulness arises - just like happiness or flow - out of situations when you do exactly what is your thing - when you act out of yourself and when you are in harmony with yourself and your values.
You don't make sense - meaning arises.
Do what your thing is and you will make sense of it and automatically become happier.
Conversely, just thinking you are doing something useful does not necessarily make you happy.
Isn't that pretty selfish?
Doesn't the world need a lot more people doing something useful?
Yes, of course. But the way there is completely different.
A thought experiment: Imagine someone comes and pays you € 4000 gross a month so that you can build something with dominoes 30 hours a week. Otherwise there are no conditions! That would be totally pointless, wouldn't it?
But what would happen?
Over time, my constructs would get bigger and bigger. Since I enjoy doing that, I would certainly be super creative. My children would help build and, after a while, their friends too. We'd build a chain of dominoes down the driveway and later down the street as well. In time, many people would stop by and enjoy my constructs. I would soon have my own YouTube channel, a small fan club, and maybe even my own domino brand.
Of course, I would have the motto “knock down the first stone” protected. Thousands of children would enjoy my activities, watch less TV, learn something about wood and statics and be more in the fresh air. I would soon no longer need the 4000 € per month and I would voluntarily and without my noticing it, certainly “work” more than 30 hours a week.
Would that make any sense? Most certainly!
Because meaning arises when you do what your thing is. And I like dominoes - for you it might be the most boring job in the world. You would sit in your little room for months and your meager constructions would produce everything, just no point!
I know - an extreme example - and probably a utopia, but that's not the point.
It's about you doing what is your thing and what corresponds to your values.
Then the sense arises all by itself.
- As a nurse who helps the elderly and the sick.
- As a teacher who loves his job so much that despite the system he does great lessons for his children.
- As a stonemason who doesn't speak a word all day, but whose sculptures inspire thousands of people.
- As a software developer who develops apps or websites that enrich our lives and make them easier.
- As a development worker who is there for the poorest of the poor.
- As a banker who sells “good” financial products to her customers that deliver real added value.
- As a policewoman who treats people with respect and is really a friend and helper.
- As an online marketer who promotes products that make our world a little better.
The meaning arises when you act according to your values and do not have to violate them.
And which values count for you now?
I don't know - but I can tell you mine.
My top five values were authenticity, fun, family, justice, and excitement.
In good German:
If I am allowed to do what I enjoy - and that can be a lot of different things - if I can be there as I am, if the whole thing is compatible with my family life, if it is reasonably fair and I break new ground, then will make sense out of it.
This blog, for example.
I don't write montagsfieber.de because it makes sense, I write because I enjoy it. The point is not the goal, but the result!
What's left for you
Act more according to your values and less against them. If you are dissatisfied, find out which values you are currently violating or which you are ignoring. Then you can develop step by step in this direction.
And you also release yourself from the obligation to have to do something "meaningful". The meaning arises on the way but it is not the goal!
You don't have to make the world a better place! You will make the world a better place if you act according to your values.
And how do you find out what is important to you?
- Write down at least 10 - better more - values that are important to you right now.
- Then compare each value with each other and always give the winner a line (the first of the e.g. 15 with the other 14, the next with the other 13, etc. - do not think twice, just come up with the decision - it takes 5 minutes) . This gives you an approximate benchmark as to which values are really important to you and which are not quite so.
- Which values do you violate most in your current situation and what makes you dissatisfied about them?
- What can you do (short term / long term) to change that?
- What can you do today and tomorrow to live more according to one of your important values?
- It doesn't matter if you've forgotten a value or if two are very similar. Firstly, you can make improvements at any time and secondly, as is so often the case in life, it is not about right or wrong, but about getting the rough direction right.
You won't be able to change everything at once, but you can always pay more attention to what is really important to you.
What small steps can you take in the right direction today? Which tomorrow and which big step might be in the making for the future?
If you violate (have to violate) your own values less, then you will become happier over time - inevitably.
If you act more according to your values, meaning and satisfaction will come naturally over time. Because you will become more satisfied in your current job and live your purpose again or because you switch and find something else that fills you more.
No matter what it is, it will make sense. Not because it has to, but because it is created.
Cut down the first stone and write down your values. They are the key to greater satisfaction.
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