I wanted to share a follow up to the idea of finding meaning in your work. Specifically, I wanted to comment on some of the feedback I received about the gap between formal performance evaluations and ratings – and the intrinsic satisfaction that comes with finding meaning in your work.
Many people find meaning outside the day job, and that is, perhaps, more important than an endless search for meaning in the day job.
We live in a time of great change. Decades ago, the pundits predicted that by this time, we would live a life of leisure. Advances in technology would give us more leisure time and we would all be enjoying more time with family, in nature, and free from financial concerns.
It seems that the opposite might be true. We are shackled to our mobile devices, constantly checking work status.
However, this same technology has helped liberate us and make us more mobile. While we may not be free enough to find a full time job pulling lilies in Monet’s pond, we may be able to leverage mobile technology to cut out early from work to lead a docent tour at our local gardens, or to attend a child’s sporting event.
Our annual performance evaluation captures an assessment of our “day job”, but is not an assessment of who we are as human beings. A part time or volunteer job weeding Monet’s garden is still something that can speak to our soul as human beings.
Managers are busy with the day to day tasks at hand. Individuals are caught up on the treadmill. It’s hard for either to step back and see the big picture. HR professionals can look at the overall health of the organization and help people find meaning – if not in their work – then in their lives.
Finding balance in life is something that goes back to the Stoics, if not earlier – and has shown up in work life throughout history.
Weeding Monet’s Garden is not an all-or-nothing gig – we can all find elements of meaning in our work, and we can stitch that together with work we do outside our day job – outside the scope of our annual performance evaluation – to bring our human strengths to make a difference in the world….
I like to think that HR professionals have a unique perspective and can offer advice to help organizations and their members find balance, find meaning, and make a real difference in the world.
In response to comments on the Weeding piece, I realize that it’s not about finding meaning in your work, it’s about finding meaning in your life – even if that means your pulling weeds in Monet’s garden on your day off from your accounting job.
Having an impact is what matters.