Studies have shown that individuals who find purpose in their jobs have higher energy and focus, and less stress, depression, and anxiety. Having a job that provides purpose – and is more like a calling – can also help you live longer. Zach Mercurio, Purpose Expert and Author of The Invisible Leader, says purpose is your usefulness – the unique contribution that you and your job makes on others. But what if you’re a temporary employee who goes to a different job every week? Does your “purpose” need to change every time you have an assignment? Fortunately, the answer is no.
Know your values
As a temporary employee, you can find purpose and meaning in your work regardless of the assignment. First, you should know your values – what means the most to you. For example, you might feel the most energized when you are helping others, either through good customer service or directing people to the right location or person to meet their need. In this instance, your value could be service. If you can’t live without personal contact and communication with others, your value might be connections. Or perhaps your value is to be a good provider, having the money and means to buy food and housing for your family. Once you know what you value, you can find it in any position you’re assigned.
In fact, there’s a wonderful story about bricklayers which explains how different people might look at their purpose. It starts with Christopher Wren, the architect who was commissioned to rebuild St. Paul’s Cathedral after the great fire that leveled London in 1666:
One day in 1671, Christopher Wren observed three bricklayers on a scaffold. He asked all of them the same question, “What are you doing?” to which the first bricklayer replied, “I’m working.” The second bricklayer, responded, “I’m building a wall.” But the third bricklayer, when asked the question, “What are you doing?” replied with a gleam in his eye, “I’m building a cathedral to The Almighty.”
The first bricklayer was the provider – he was working in order to provide for himself and his family. The second bricklayer saw how his work fit in with everything else and how his task was vital to the completion of the project. The third bricklayer was the combination of the first two, but with his personal purpose applied. He wasn’t just working, or contributing to a portion of the project. He was building a place of worship for his Almighty.
Apply your purpose
Regardless of what tasks you’re given as a temporary employee, you can apply your purpose. Striving to do a good job so that you build your reputation as an excellent employee who is requested for assignments will help you meet your purpose of providing for your family. Asking questions about how your task fits in with the overall process will help you see how performing it is contributing to the completion of the project. For example, if you’re supposed to trim a part, understanding what happens down the line if the part isn’t trimmed gives you a bigger picture and shows how you fit in and the vital role you play. Finding joy, even in the smallest of tasks, can bring you fulfillment regardless of the position or job assignment. Steve Errey, a confidence coach, says purpose shows in your attitude and comes down to this: The choice to engage with all you’ve got rather than struggle with everything you’re not.
So, examine your values. Then look for how each job assignment helps you to demonstrate those values and you, too, will find your purpose, even as a temporary employee.
Hear from some people who took this philosophy to the max and began loving their jobs!