Times columnist Ryan Windsor: Defining work, defining ourselves

PUBLISHED: 14:00 14 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:28 14 November 2017

Times columnist Ryan Windsor. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Times columnist Ryan Windsor. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2015

Even though you might not feel unhappy about your day job, or burnt-out, many of us end up in an autopilot state of mind at work.

Some of us certainly feel satisfied at work, as their occupation fits a particular interest, but this might fade over time.

We are usually pulled along by the momentum of our job rather than by the intentions we have.

Understanding what our job means might help with setting the right expectations, deciding whether it is the path we want to continue on, and capturing satisfaction.

Most of us define ourselves by ‘what we do’ and ‘where we work’.

One of the most popular questions upon a first contact is ‘What do you do?’, and not without reason.

Our occupation is an important part of who we are as a person and knowing what our job means to us is critical in living a satisfied life.

To identify if you are indeed on autopilot ask yourself how you value your current work and assess if the meaning of your occupation is true to yourself and meets your expectations.

To help you through this process, experts have described three levels of ‘meaning’. These are:

■ Work as a job - you are working for the pay at the end of the month, there is little to no personal satisfaction.

■ Work as a career - you have a desire to succeed, progress and achieve. Many people in this category are looking for status, a promotion or a title.

■ Work as a calling - you feel like you have been called upon to do a specific type of work, either by God, the community, or internally.

This is the form of work that is done out of a sense of personal obligation and duty. It is often driven out of personal experiences and a deeper understanding of oneself.

Whether you are working for the paycheck, for career progression or for a calling, it is useful to reflect on where you stand, and whether this is enough for you.

You might upon reflection realise you are quite satisfied or you might want to undertake actions to become more fulfilled at work, and in life more generally.

Take some time to think and act. We spend almost half our lives working, it would be a shame not to enjoy what we do.

To ask Ryan Windsor a question, email

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