What is the one thing that you wake up feeling excited about? What are some of the simplest things in life that bring you so much joy?
What attracts you to your current career path? What are
the things that you look forward to coming home to at the end of every day? What are some of the most important calling or achievements that you really want to accomplish in this lifetime? What does it take for you to say that you have lived a life with no regrets?
The answers to these questions are some the sources that has the utmost meaning for you, something that you attach personal signiﬁcance to. They can be anything and are deeply personal to every individual. In the ﬁeld of positive psychology, they’re often called meaning markers. They can be something as simple as the feeling of comfort you feel when you’re sharing laughter with your family, the contentment you feel at the end of a productive day, or the peace of mind you feel knowing that you’re having a share in making this world a better place in one way or another. These are what guide us towards our choices and our goals.
We might of might not have realised it, but every goal we set in our lives are built around these meanings. The more a goal is imbued with our meaning markers, the more we care about the it, and the more likely we are to achieve it. Why is this so? Because as human beings, we’re wired to channels our resources (time, energy, effort, drive, emotion and intelligence) to the things that matter to us. Researches have demonstrated that people experience up to three times higher levels of motivation, productivity and engagement when the work we do is centered around our meaning markers. And the opposite is true: people who don’t ﬁnd their jobs meaningfuls have higher stress levels and blood pressure during the workweek, compared to their counterparts who do ﬁnd meaning at work.
Now this is important because that means whatever task we’re faced with, if we can ﬁnd a way to connect and to sprinkle it with our meaning markers, we are bound to ﬁnd more joy and peace working on it, and thus be more successful. The good news is that this holds true for just about anyone, regardless of what profession you are in, because it’s you (not our job) who create the meaning. We all have the power and the ability to ﬁll our professional and personal lives with more meaning.
Whenever you’re feeling down or demotivated about the tasks that’s in front of you, stop for a while and take a moment to connect that work with your meaning markers. Ask yourself, “How will taking this action get me closer to my meaningful goals?” Even if it’s a work that you have to do anyway, highlighting and appreciating the fact that you’re doing something meaningful will train your brain to be more adept at seeing the good in your surrounding, providing you with just the much needed motivation powerbank. The more you do this, the more you’ll be able to ﬁnd the joy and the fun in your work. Sprinkle that meaning markers generously!