66. Finding Meaning at Work Part 1: Harnessing Your Values

A key to finding meaning at work lies in your ability to align your daily tasks with your values. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do, it only matters that you, personally, know what you care about and express those values in your job. When you find meaning, or purpose, at work you are more productive, healthier, resilient, and more fun to be around! 


In Part I of a two part series on finding meaning at work, our hale and happy hosts spend some time diving into what meaning is, why it is important and the backbone of meaning – identifying your values.

What are we talking about when we say meaning?  Meaning is the connection between two or more things or ideas that together fulfill a higher purpose, create esteem or admiration, have a positive impact, transcend our instincts or our view of what we can achieve or makes sense (aka lofty goals).  This is according to Kirsten and The Meaning of Life (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Meaning is not happiness, it is not good character.  It is the connection between ourselves and one of those “lofty goals.”  Sometimes we find meaning because we are providing for our families, or helping someone else, being of service, discovering something new, solving problems, protecting the environment etc . . .


“People who live their purpose at work are more productive than people who don’t. They are also healthier, more resilient, and more likely to stay at the company. Moreover, when employees feel that their purpose is aligned with the organization’s purpose, the benefits expand to include stronger employee engagement, heightened loyalty, and a greater willingness to recommend the company to others.” Help your employees find purpose–or watch them leave

Simply put – meaning is good for us and good for the workplace. Meaning at work makes us:

  • 2.5 times more likely to be free of dementia
  • 22 percent less likely to exhibit risk factors for stroke
  • 52 percent less likely to have experienced a stroke

And if this wasn’t enough, individual purpose benefits organizations, too… People who find their individual purpose congruent with their jobs tend to get more meaning from their roles, making them more productive and more likely to outperform their peers.  Igniting individual purpose in times of crisis.


Ideally, work is a place where you can express your values – it is a calling.  There are external factors – the work and the workplace that affect this and well an internal factors.

As always, the good and bad news is that we have more ability to affect change when it comes to our internal experience.  

  1. Identify Your Values

Values are the things that are most important in our lives.  When values and goals are aligned, we are much more likely to motivate ourselves towards action and success.  

According to Simon Senik values need to be actionable  Here is his terrific TEDTalk: Honesty is NOT a Value | Simon Sinek Values are not nouns, but actions.  He gives these great examples:

Honesty vs “tell the truth”

Innovation vs “allow for experimentation”

Humor vs. “laugh everyday”
Most of us have a sense of our values and can list our values.  However, it is interesting to move past your assumptions and reflect on them from an independent source.  For example, The Values Project is a decades-long effort to get people in touch with their values.  Click on the link to test your assumptions about your values. The Values Project | Let’s reveal what matters to you.  Getting clear on your values is the first step to finding meaning at work.