How to Find More Passion and Purpose in Your Workday

Meaning is key to boosting happiness and preventing burnout, and it starts with small steps.

Valentin Casarsa/ Getty Images
Valentin Casarsa/ Getty Images

We all go through times when we don’t feel passionate about what we’re working on. When you feel unmotivated, small steps can help you recharge and reframe, so you can find purpose in your work and show up as your most effective and passionate self.

Here are four simple strategies that can help you feel more passion and purpose during the workday:

Reframe your story

Research shows that our self-talk affects the drive and passion we bring to our work. In Quartz, Cassie Werber writes that our feelings about our work often stem from “career cartography” — the maps we write of our professional paths. To reframe a task you’re working on, try focusing on the skills you’re learning, the people you’re working with, and even what the end result will be. As Werber puts it, reframing can “transform the way you feel about what it is you already do.” 

Start “job carving”

Job carving, explains Tim Herrera in the New York Times, means slowly shifting our responsibilities within our position from what drains us to what energizes us. Herrera encourages people to write down what they love and loathe about their careers, and identify the hidden clues about what feels meaningful, and what doesn’t. “This exercise gives you a road map about how to focus your time and energy on the things that get you excited,” Herrera writes. To start, try talking to your manager about shifting responsibilities and finding other projects that could help you grow in your career. Chances are, they’ll be happy you’re thinking long-term about staying engaged in your work. 

Reach out to co-workers to check in

The people we work with can have a strong impact on how we feel about the work we’re doing. If you’re not feeling passionate about what you’re working on, ask a co-worker what they’re up to. When you approach someone to ask a simple question, you’ll build a deeper relationship that can help bring more joy and meaning to your daily work.

Focus on a bigger purpose

Experts say finding meaning has nothing to do with our job titles, or where we fall in our company’s hierarchy. In The New York Times Magazine, Charles Duhigg cites a study in which researchers found that some janitors at hospitals seemed happier than others – and the reason why was simply because they felt a sense of purpose in their work. “Some members of the janitorial staff saw their jobs not as just tidying up but as a form of healing,” Duhigg explains. “If you see your job as healing the sick, rather than just swabbing up messes, you’re likely to have a deeper sense of purpose whenever you grab the mop.”

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