Meaning in the Mundane


Every job has that list of pain-in-the-neck things that you hate to do.  If you are like me, you have a natural tendency to just avoid doing them.  This could be true at work, home, or wherever.  And no matter how hard you try to psych yourself up or force yourself to do it, you still lack the motivation and energy, and you still dread it and procrastinate.  Sound familiar?  

Instead, try this exercise. Make a list of things that you are passionate about.  Then, see if you can tie this pain in the neck activity into any of those areas of passion.  An example for me is staff meetings.  I have always hated attending staff meetings at work…boring, wastes of time, either no discussion at all or unproductive complaining.  (No offense if you are a previous boss.  I’m definitely not talking about your meetings!)  As a Director I realized that monthly staff meetings were inevitable, so one day I had a flash of good attitude and really dug into the idea.  I am passionate about education.  I love learning, and I love helping others learn.  It didn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that a well-done staff meeting could directly support that passion of mine.  So, I got inspired to do the staff meeting right.  Since then I have been able to take more time and give more attention to the staff meeting.  This has made it better, at least marginally, and it has been less of a dreaded activity for me.

Maybe for you it’s dishes.  You love serving your spouse.  And you love a neat, orderly home. But you hate doing the dishes.  HATE.  Well, try to see yourself not as doing the dishes but rather as serving your spouse by making an orderly home.  Or maybe the bedtime routine with your kids drives you nuts.  But you love investing in them each day.  Try to look at the wind-down to bed as a daily opportunity to cap the day off right.

 This simple exercise helps you to find meaning in the mundane. If you change your perspective, your attitude will follow! 

What pains-in-the-neck do you have to deal with routinely?  How can you tie them into something you love?

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2 thoughts on “Meaning in the Mundane

  1. Ruth says:

    This is great food for thought! I always get more of a passion for something mundane when I can figure out a way to organize it or make it more efficient…that always makes it more fun…kind of like a puzzle because there’s always a way to make something even more efficient! Not that I always actually make it more efficient but it’s fun to brainstorm while I’m doing it at least 🙂 I agree that almost anything in life can be made more enjoyable when we look at the deeper purpose behind it and can then get a passion for it verses just suffering through it!!!

    1. Nate says:

      Thanks Ruth, good point. It adds a challenge or competition element to the task. Sometimes I use a stopwatch to time the kids when they get ready for bed, and that always makes it more fun, and much faster.
      Your comment also made me think about a slogan in healthcare: “Improving our work IS our work.” It is pointing out that every day we should be improving the way that we do things.

      Thanks for your comments!

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