Meaning at Work Is Key During the Holidays

Find ways to stay focused on what matters at work during the holidays!

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This time of year, instead of thinking about meaning, we are bombarded with emails and messages about material things. Emails and ads remind people over and over again of the importance of monetary gifts for happiness. This same mentality can be applied to work. What will your holiday bonus be? Will you get a raise in the new fiscal year? Of course, it is important to have your basic monetary needs met. But, focusing on non-monetary rewards can improve your well-being even more this season. Here are my tips for making sure that you are keeping what is really important on your mind.

Finding Intrinsic Meaning All Day Long Is Key

Interestingly, research shows that focusing on intrinsic AND extrinsic reasons for doing your job has positive effects on your well-being. This is even more true if you think about these reasons in the morning. So, it’s a good practice to think about the reasons you love your job overall in the morning. You can also think about some of the perks and benefits you get as well. Use the time you might otherwise fill with needless activity while you’re on the way to work to do this. See it as a way to get yourself prepared to face a new day with positivity.

As the day goes on, thinking about intrinsic reasons that you love your job continues to have a positive effect on your well-being, while focusing on external reasons for doing the job starts to have the opposite effect. The more you are drained from your day, the less likely it is that your salary or other benefits are going to be the reason you’ll keep going. Instead, the fact that you love your coworkers, enjoy your work schedule, or feel you are making a difference to others is what pulls you through. So, if you want to think about your salary or benefits when you start your day, that’s fine. But, it’s best to keep the other reasons you like your job on your mind all day, if you want to truly be satisfied and energized.

meaning morning
It’s a good idea to use your morning commute to focus yourself on why you love your job!

Don’t Give Most Bonuses Meaning

In most workplaces, a holiday bonus is a “thank you” that doesn’t really have much to do with your individual performance. Companies often give these bonuses to everyone or they don’t give them to anyone. Sometimes they depend on the company’s performance overall. In other words, your own performance isn’t determining how much you’ll get or if you get one. Research shows that focusing on extrinsic rewards that don’t have much to do with your performance can make you less productive. Even though it’s hard not to take it personally, it’s better for you to think of a bonus as something nice to have. In other words, don’t focus on it so much that it will make or break your spirit.

On the flip side, you should focus on intrinsic motivators when extrinsic rewards are less clearly linked to your performance. So, instead of worrying about your bonus, try to think of ways to enhance camaraderie with your coworkers. Interpersonal rewards will actually have a stronger impact on your motivation to perform than your bonus in the long-run. You often have to buy a lot of gifts during the holidays, so more money is certainly a nice thing. But, if you focus more on meaning at home and at work, those gifts will become less important to everyone.

meaning in money
Try not to focus too much on whether you get an extra check this holiday season. Focus on how you continue to make a difference at work!

If You Don’t Like Your Job, Find Meaning in Your Family

Some people find themselves in positions where there isn’t much to like. While your job may be lacking in intrinsic motivators, you can focus on what it provides for your life. Maybe you aren’t going to get a bonus or a raise this holiday season. But, you are still getting something out of your position. Maybe you are able to provide shelter and food throughout the year for those you love. Perhaps you are able to take a small vacation with loved ones that create memories that last a lifetime.

Past researchers have found that you can replenish your energy for your job, even when you don’t like it all that much, by focusing on the ability it gives you to live a better life with your family and friends. However, one word of caution! If you truly don’t like your job, focusing on family won’t decrease your stress. It will only make you feel more energetic and refreshed, but will not decrease your perceptions of your job as stressful. So, focus on family for now, but try to find a job you love in the meantime!

We have talked about the power of intrinsic motivation before, but hopefully these tips will help you to get through the holiday season by focusing on meaning, instead of money. What are your tips for staying focused on what matters during the holidays? We would love to hear from you below!!


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