Your alarm goes off – too early, much too early. As you struggle your way out of your warm comfy nest, you say to yourself: “Another day, another grind,” and off you go, to the land of work. It doesn’t matter what kind of work, whether in an office, a factory, a home or on a space ship, you’d love (no, let’s rephrase that), you’d be utterly passionate about being able not to work. Get off that work treadmill. Forever. But life, it seems, just isn’t going to let you get away with that one. You’re years away from retirement (if that ever becomes a reality…) and somehow you don’t think the bill collectors are going to make nice and forget to collect the rent.

It’s not that you have a bad job, you don’t. It’s not that you’re not grateful for the income, you are. It’s not even that you don’t like your boss or your co-workers/customers. They’re fine. So why, you ask, do you feel like you’re being dragged through your 9-5 one weary day at a time, your only relief that magic moment when you call it quits for the day?

Why? You’ve lost your sense of purpose. Work has become something you do by rote, because you have to. When your nose sticks too close to the grindstone, your very soul gets ground.

Take a step back. Look at the bigger picture. Work, your work, has a purpose in the larger scheme of things. Your work impacts other people. When you recognize and appreciate how your work allows you to matter in the world, you see your work with new eyes. Work ceases to be a daily slog, and becomes a source of pride, accomplishment and joy.

For example, you’re not just an engineer who designs commercial air conditioning and heating systems. When you step back and take the long view, you realize that you’re making environments comfortable and healthy for people who work in the buildings with the systems you design. Your work contributes to the overall well-being of people, helping them be more effective and happier.

As a homemaker, you’re not just cleaning house, making meals, and picking up after the kids, you’re contributing to your family’s health and happiness. You’re also contributing to the overall health and happiness of your community and your nation, since healthy and happy individuals make for a more viable society. Your work gives you this opportunity. When you look at it this way, you understand your work from a larger, more meaningful perspective, from which you can draw pride and a deep sense of self-worth.

Or let’s say you’re a bookkeeper or accountant. Your purpose is to help individuals/ companies keep their financial affairs in order, so they can budget and spend wisely, which greatly minimizes their stress, and contributes to their success and well-being.

Any work can be appreciated in this way: from running a mom-and-pop business to manual labor, from fundraising to waiting tables, from recording a song to inputting data. It doesn’t matter what you do, your work has purpose in the larger scheme of life.

When you look at your work through the lens of the bigger picture, you recognize your value, your contribution to the whole of life, to our world. As you become aware of your purpose, you focus on a common intention with your co-workers, bosses and customers, and your work acquires an ease or flow. With a sense of purpose, work ceases to be drudgery and instead supports and enhances your life. Work brings you joy, and in the process, brings joy to others.

So get your nose off that grindstone and enjoy the song your soul will sing!

Author's Bio: 

Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D., known as "Dr. Noelle" to her clients, is a respected psychologist, consultant and author. Her most recent books is "The Power of Appreciation: The Key to a Vibrant Life" (with co-author, Jeannine LeMare Calaba, Psy.D.; Beyond Words, 2003). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives with her "compassionate psychotherapy." Dr. Noelle welcomes your comments via email ( You can visit Dr. Noelle anytime at